View Full Version : I need a clearing on jazz chord progrressions

05-09-2012, 10:50 AM
This may sound stupid, if so forgive me. I come to the ukulele from a background in bluegrass and in that I larned and developed an ear for the I, IV, V chords in the various keys, passing chords, etc. I kind of knew where a song was going as soon as I knew the key.

I'm now tryng to pursue the jass playing of a ukulele and I am baffled in the jazz chord progression issue. Do they start with the 1 and end on the 1 after a turn at the 5? I have read and tried to learned the 1ma7, 1ma6, 2m7 57 progression or the 1ma7, 6m7, 2m7 or 57 progression. My question is how are they used? What do I do with them? Do they generally appear as a package in a jazz tune or are they just as likely to be split up and appear singularly or so forth. If that is the case why are they called progressions and why are we encouraged to learn them as progressions, as units? Thanks for your help. Blessings,

05-09-2012, 10:55 AM
Check out Glen Rose's "Jazzy Ukulele".
He has a pretty good (and simple) approach to the standards.

05-09-2012, 10:58 AM
Here is a good place to start.
http://www.jazzguitar.be/jazz_chord_progressions.html (http://www.jazzguitar.be/jazz_chord_progressions.html)

+1 on the Glen Rose Jazzy Ukulele (http://www.jazzyukulele.com/) site.

05-09-2012, 12:02 PM
I didn't know shinola about jazzprogressions until I learned about Glen Rose from the Humbleuker website a few years ago. Now I've progressed a lot.

Go to the Glen Rose's jazzy uke site and buy the first book and go from there. Get the videos. It's not expensive for the treasure you get.

In a nutshell, jazz is built around ii-V-I patterns in major or minor keys often both in the same song. Sometimes the songs are only these paterns. Kind of like doo wop's using C-Am-F-G, which is a I-vi-IV-V pattern.

You see these patterns repeated throughout songs and Glen shows you and gives you tons of practice with these patterns.

Sometimes it's only the ii-V.

And then there is the odd filler chord or transition chord or chords. These patterns are the building blocks out of which jazz is constructed. It's musical architecture

A major component of jazz is that some chords just have a jazzy sound.

Jazz rarely uses majors or sevenths. Why use them when major 7ths,
6ths, 6/9 chords have so much more flavor and so much more melodic richness?

Why use 7ths when 9ths, or 13ths or so many variations of these can be sustituted?

So, learn to read and learn about how to play these progressions in numerous positions. One encouraging note is that the fingering for some very important jazz chords can be easier than your basic major, minor and seventh chords. The movement between jazz chords can be a simple movement of a finger. You'll dig it.

I like alll kinds of music. Not just jazz. But jazz is rich!

05-09-2012, 01:15 PM
ghetto subscribed

05-09-2012, 02:57 PM
Thanks to everyone for you comments and suggestions. Blessings

Ukulele JJ
05-11-2012, 01:59 AM
The trick with jazz harmony is that, yes, you see the II-V7-I progression a lot. But it's not always the II-V7-I of the key of the song! Often, it's relative to the "key of the moment". A big part of "getting" the structure of a jazz tune's chords is figuring out when it sort of jumps into these little temporary keys.

Let's take "Misty", for example. In the key of C, the first few chords, in basic terms, are:


So what's going on there? The first and fourth chords are in the key of C (they're the I and IV). But what about the other two? G-7 and C7 do not occur naturally in the key of C, because they feature a Bb instead of a B natural.

Well, you can think of the song as having a "key of the moment" of F for that part. The G-7 and C7 act as a II-V7 into the Fmaj7 chord--as if the Fmaj7 were the I chord for a moment. The Fmaj7 sort of functions as the IV of the key of C and the I of the key of F at the same time.

(And, of course, knowing that little tidbit, you would also know that to solo over that section, you would probably tend to choose notes from the F major scale instead of the C major scale!)

So yes, II-V7 progressions are everywhere in jazz. But they don't always show up as the same two chords in any given song.


05-11-2012, 02:28 AM
Traveler - If you know a little about music theory already and can read a little music, you might try The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine (http://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Theory-Book-Mark-Levine/dp/1883217040)..... there are several different approaches to learning jazz theory, various ways to think about the song structure and how the progressions function, and Levine presents his take on one of the most popular. I've read a lot of this stuff over the last year and his book is a pretty good place to start - it's pretty clearly written and has a lot of examples in standard musical notation. You do have to be able to read a little and have a basic grasp of theory to get into it, but it sounds like you do. I come from a country/bluegrass/rock background too and had a pretty good hold of the basics and was able to work my way through it.

He starts with the basics and covers A LOT of ground, stuff I won't be able to apply for years, but it's nice to start wrapping your head around the theory as you learn tunes..... and I figured out that's the best way to learn jazz - just start learning tunes. Once you get several chord changes and melodies under your belt, you start to have an easier time figuring out the functional harmony - what's a I chord or a ii chord or a V7? The theory makes a lot more sense once you start learning the songs and have a practical framework to hang the theory on....

For me, this is all slow going, but I'm slowly starting to get it.... might actually try to play some jazz in front of someone other than my dog someday......

Ukulele JJ
05-11-2012, 05:26 AM
Traveler - If you know a little about music theory already and can read a little music, you might try The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine (http://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Theory-Book-Mark-Levine/dp/1883217040)

Levine is the man.

There's stuff I learned from his "Jazz Piano Book" that I apply on literally every single jazz piano gig I play.