Soloing with Chords – Part 2 Minor II V I

The minor cadence is often considered difficult in the beginning when learning jazz. In this lesson I want to go over the chord voicings you need to play a chord solo over a minor II V I and give you some ideas on how to make lines with them.

Voicing sets – Building a chord vocabulary

As I have done in some of the other lessons on this subject: Soloing with Chords Part 1  and Jazz Blues chord solo I have made two sets of voicings covering the length of the neck for each chord in the cadence. The key of the II V I is Gm so the chords would be Am7b5, D7(b9b13) and Gm6.

For the Am7b5 nothing really incredible is happening and most of the voicings are quite straight forward. Since these are meant to be easy to play after each others I do make a some choices in terms of keeping a voicing and only changing a top note here and there.  I also tend to use a lot of triad and drop2 based voicings. SOmething I probably have from playing Joe Pass chord solos.

You will also notice that the middle set are mostly 3 note voicings and the top set mostly 4 note voicings. This is not the only way to do this of course, but it happens to be what I mostly do.

Soloing with Chords Part 2 ex 1

The only note that is hard to harmonize with an Am7b5 in the G natural minor scale is the Bb which I have harmonized with a Cm7 voicing which makes it a Am7(b5) with a b9, it is maybe not the voicing you want to rest on, but in the context it works quite well.

On the D7 I am using G harmonic minor (or what you also might know as D mixolydian b9b13 or D phrygian major etc.) As with other major chords the one note that you need to take care with is the 4th, so in this case the G. Since the D7add11 is not a really useful sound I change the chord to a D7sus4(b9) on that one that works very well in the context and is a more stable sound.

Soloing with Chords Part 2 ex 2

On the tonic I am using G melodic minor. All the voicings are using either some sort of Gm6 or GmMaj7 Only on the 4th(C) I find that if you use Gm6 you get a C7 like sound that works better than using a GmMaj which will sound like some sort of D7.

Soloing with Chords Part 2 ex 3

The exercises I went over here are of course more a demonstration of how I approach this and you will learn a lot more from figuring out your own and practice them since that will help you find the voicing solutions that fit you and also help develop your overview of the neck for this chord type.

Minor II V I examples

In the examples here under I will try to show how I use the exercises above but also demonstrate a few things that make it easier to play chord solos since these “shrt cuts” can open the door to get started with this technically  quite demanding skill set.

The first example is a fairly basic way to use the harmonized scales that I went over in the exercises. Note how on the dom7th chord I basically stay in the same position and have the same base part of the chord on the 3rd and fth strings for the entire chord until I resolve to Gm6/9.

Soloing with Chords Part 2 ex 4

The 2nd example is illustrating how we can use the fact that there is a diminished chord in the harmonic minor scale which is a great tool to make lines over a D7b9 (since that is a F# dim chord with a D in the bass). Dim chords are symmetric so they are easy to move around with fairly little energy which is basically how the line is constructed.

Soloing with Chords Part 2 ex 5

The third example illustrates how there is a set of voicings based on an Am7b5  that can be moved up a minor 3rd to become a D7(b9b13). This is again a way to utilize fingerings that makes it easier to play some riffs with the voicings.

Soloing with Chords Part 2 ex 6

An important thing to keep in mind is that  since it is difficult to play dense 8th note lines with chords (and you have to wonder if that actually sounds good) It is very important to make interesting rhythms. For me it always help to keep big band phrases in the back of my head and use that kind of language. To me it is also a style of phrasing that fits in the places where  you would play chord solos.

I hope you can use the scale and the examples I gave here to make some harmonized lines and chord solos for yourself.

If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here you can do so here:

Soloing with Chords Part 2

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