Practicing Jazz Improvisation
Lesson 4

Click Here To Download Lesson 4 Files

The files that you just downloaded will be used for this lesson. The folder contains several PDF Files that you may print out and an MP3 Play-a-long file.

Combining Chords-The ii-V-I Progression

You should now be familiar with Major 7 Chords, Dominant 7 Chords, and Minor 7 Chords. We are now going to combine each of those chords into a single chord progression known in jazz as the ii-V-I Progression. This is a VERY common progression found in jazz and popular music. Once you have mastered the ii-V-I progression, you are well on your way to becoming a good improvisor!

Constructing ii-V-I Progressions

If we construct diatonic 7th chords using the 2nd, 5th, and 1st note of a C Major scale, we will have the following three chords:

Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 4.13.10 PM

If you look at all three chords and the scales for those chords, you will notice
that all three chords share the common tonality of C Major. You can improvise
using a C Major scale for all three chords! We have just taken three chord
types and reduced them to one scale! How cool is that?

If you look at your ii-V-I progressions that you downloaded for this lesson, notice that
I have indicated what key you are playing in for each progression. An easy way
to determine the key is to look at the I chord! That is the key/scale that you
will be using for the ii-V-I progression.


Use the exercises from the previous lessons and apply them to the ii-V-I progressions, using the play-a-long to practice with. Make sure that you master every key!

Start to go through your Real Book and identify any and all ii-V-I progressions. There are a ton! It is by far the most popular chord progression in tonal music!

Real Book Tunes

Get The Real Book I Sixth Edition (Available on Amazon) and look at the following tunes:

Tune Up Pg. 418
Lady Bird Pg. 235

Also note that I have provided a chord/key analysis for Tune Up and Lady Bird in the Lesson 4 download files. Study them and remember to think about what key you are playing in at all times!

These tunes contain ii-V-I progressions. Go through each tune using the exercises from lessons 1 and 2. Memorize the head and the changes.

Go to the Real Book Tunes Link and download the play-a-longs located in the Lesson 4 Play-A-Long Folder.

Real Book Tunes Link

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