If your set list includes numbers from “The Great American Song Book,” then you’re going to wrestle with the ii-V-I progression in a bunch of keys. Here’s a winsome ii-V-I phrase to help strengthen your chops, develop your ear, and arouse your creative vocabulary as a improviser. Click here to watch the video.
Our goal is to float gracefully over the changes with lyrical melodies and an imaginative approach. As you play, the ideas can flow effortlessly, as if you were chewing the fat with a trusted friend. No stress, no strain, just a candid, joyful sharing of experiences, images, and feelings.
What we don’t want is for our solos to feel as if we’re laboriously slogging through a dense, suffocating swamp of unintelligible chords, gritting our teeth, wishing the ordeal would somehow come to a grinding halt!
Give this recording a listen, and try playing along using the chart below.
As you’re playing, notice how you begin to feel comfortable with the ii-V-I progression in various keys and how your ear is inspired with endless possibilities by exploring those three seminal chords.
Let me know how this approach works for you. (Use the comments section below this post.) Bb instruments start at the top of the chart. Concert key and Eb instruments start where indicated and loop back to the beginning before the coda.
And – if you want to play melodies like this one without a chart as I did – you can quickly learn to play by ear, when you work through “New Ears Resolution.”