Great Chord Sequences And How To Use Them In A Solo

There is a great way that you can create new lines over a chord progression which is a simple way of changing the chords and outline other chord sequences. This way you get more movement in the lines and another logic to the melody. And checking out a few of those options on basic progressions like a II V I or a static chord can add a lot of variation to your solos.

In this lesson, I am going to show you a few examples of this. Some are staying within the key and others add a few outside sounds, and later I will also show you how this works if you open up the rhythm a bit.

The Basic Chord Progression and Concept

To show you how this works, first we need to set up a key and a II V I to work with.

We have a basic II V I in G major: Am7 D7 Gmaj7 and often if I play these chords then I can also get away with these chords: Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7 (see example 2 below)

Using this progression in a solo

If I do that in a solo in a really basic way then that sounds like this:

You can hear that the comping is just playing the II V I, but it still works and a freer solo line that still sounds like this: could be something like this:

As you can see I am still using the super-imposed chords (short rundown of the arps)

A Modal or Static Variation

You can hear that I am using the direction of the “alternative chord progression” to give the line a specific direction that works great, almost as a counter-point to the comping underneath.

And of course, the same concept used on a static Am7 chord works as well:

More Diatonic Reharmonizations

The previous example was moving up the scale, and there is a very easy way to use the same principle and move down through diatonic chords like this:

The Ab7 is there because it fits in the descending motion, but a D7 would work as well, of course.

Strong Triad lines

A good way to clearly use the descending movement on top of the standard harmony is to use basic triads like this:

Adding Chromatic Passing Chords

There are two obvious ways you can add a chromatic passing chord in this context, namely using a side-slip up or down.

The two examples below shows how that might sound:

And if you translate these into solo lines:

Example 10 using a Bbm7:

And example 11 using Abm7:

More Creative Rhythms and Polyrhythms

Until now the chord progressions have been used as if the chords are placed on the heavy beats of the bar. This is of course what you usually find with chord changes, but when you solo you can be a lot more open and have more fluid barlines.

These 3 examples have a more open approach to the rhythm and also make use of polyrhythms.

A loose Bbm side-slip

Example 12 is a more loose way to quickly insert a Bbm7 line (actually just a Db major triad) and here it almost sounds like an added Eb7 in the context.

The triad is introduced by moving up the preceding C major triad a half step.

Dotted Quarter note arpeggios

The example below uses the Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7alt chord progression, but the melody uses a 3 8th note long melody for each of the chords.

Another great 3 8th-note grouping

Again triads are a fantastic resource to create melodies. This example is using the basic triads of the chords and spelling out the Cmaj7 Bm7 Am7 Ab7 chord progression. The last two beats are covered with a quartal arpeggio that is essentially an Ab7(13).

Level up your Jazz Lines with Bop Embellishments

Another great way to add more variation to your jazz vocabulary is to use more interesting phrasing:

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