I'm trying out for a high school jazz band, and on the audition paper it says I need to improvise on an F blues. Can someone explain to me what exactly that is?

I know how to improvise on a blues scale. Also, keep in mind that this is a entry level jazz band, so it wouldn't be something very complicated.

PS: I play alto sax

2 Answers 2


So an F blues refers to the song form over which you'll need to improvise. The good news is, if you know how to improvise on a blues scale, your work is largely done for you. There are infinite ways to improvise over a blues form, but one of the simplest ways that's also very effective is to use the blues scale. So in this case you would use the F minor blues scale, or F major blues scale.

F minor blues scale F Ab Bb B C Eb F

F major blues scale F G Ab A C D

good luck kid.

christ, kid, you're gonna be great!

P.S. For the alto saxophone, you're gonna be using

D minor blues: D F F# G A C D

D major blues: D E F F# A B D

  • 3
    Is that transposed for sax already or in C?
    – Eric
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 21:33
  • ahh ya got me kid. ok
    – pepper
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 23:16
    – pepper
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 23:16
  • 1
    Are you sure about Db ? I reckon on alto it's going to be D to 'transpose' into F concert.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 5:47
  • I reckon you're right
    – pepper
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 7:16

To answer the question of what an F blues is, it is a 12 bar form largely based on dominant 7 chords.

F would be: one bar of F7, 1x Bb7, 2x F7. 2x Bb7, 2x F7, 1x Gm7, 1x C7, 1x F7, 1x C7.

That is a basic form of the Jazz blues. There are many, many ways to augment that progression including substituting some of the chord for dominant 7s that lead up to the next chord or the diminished chord from that 7 that leads down to the next.

  • 2
    @pepper: V-IV-I, right (not VI)? But scrowler referred to a version of a Jazz blues where you usually don't move down from the V to the IV, but instead use a II-V-I.
    – Matt L.
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 8:55
  • Yes you're right about the IV chord, was a typo (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%E2%80%93IV%E2%80%93I_turnaround). A jazz blues will often have that turnaround as well.
    – pepper
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 23:04

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