Song 14

  1. IIm7-V7-Imaj7 Chord Progression
  2. Too Much
  3. Phrasing - Starting points
  4. Practice : IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7
  5. Session Materials


Song | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | ?? |

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S 14.1 - The IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7 Chord Progression

Hope (in the previous session) is a typical example of a song featuring the complete scale-tone chord progression of the major scale.

Audio 13.2

The most commonly used chord combination in all Jazz music consists of the tail end of this progression : IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7.

The segments used are :

IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7

IIm7 - V7

V7 - Imaj7

in C : Dm7 - G7 - C maj7

in C : Dm7 - G7

in C : G7 - C maj7 (= Perfect Cadence)

Audio 14.1

For improvisation use the :

Audio 14.2

All three modes are derived from the same major scale.
There is therefore no modulation within these chord segments.

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S 14.2 - Too Much

Too Much is a 12 bar blues in F.
It uses exactly the same chord progression as the famous blues Straight No Chaser by Thelonius Monk (see the Blues Book - page 66).
It is obvious that when you have had too many straight drinks without any chasers you arrive at a point where you have had Too Much. The name also spells out the initials T M for Thelonius Monk.

The main feature of Too Much is the third line of the song which replaces the normal blues chord progression (V7 - V7- I7 - I7 , or V7 - IV7 - I7 - V7) by a II - V - I chord progression :

IIm7 - V7 - I7
Gm7 - C7 - F7

The I chord is in this case a dominant chord which is more appropriate for a Jazz Blues.


An additional feature of Straight No Chaser (also included in Too Much) is the IIm7 - V7 (Am7 - D7) in the key of G major in bar 8 which leads onto the Gm7 in bar 9.
Note the E natural in the melody of bar 8 which reflects this chord modulation.

For improvisation over Too Much use :

  • Mixolydian modes over all dominant chords, and

  • Dorian modes over the two minor 7th chords.

Audio 14.3

Blues songs with the IIm7 - V7 - I7 chord progression in the last four bars are called II-V-I blues or Cycle blues (after the Circle of 5ths).
Famous II-V-I blues songs include :

Simple Blues ProgressionMore complex Blues Progressions

Bag's Groove

Blues for Philly Joe

Cool Blues

Now's the Time

Opus de Funk

Swedish Pastry

Swingin' Shepherd Blues

Tenor Madness

by Milt Jackson

by Sonny Rollins

by Charlie Parker

by Charlie Parker

by Horace Silver

by Barney Kessel

by Moe Koffman

by Sonny Rollins

Au Privave

Blues for Alice


Chasin' The Train

West Coast Blues

by Charlie Parker

by Charlie Parker

by Freddie Hubbard

by John Coltrane

by Wes Montgomery

Stumpy's Blues is another II-V-I blues by myself. It is included in the Jazz Theory Course on CD-ROM.

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S 14.3 - Phrasing : Starting Points

Once you get the feel for the length of 2 bar and 4 bar phrases it is time to progress to the next step : starting points.
Rather than starting each phrase of your improvisation on the first down beat of the bar try to select different points.

There are 8 different possible starting points in a bar :

  • each of the 4 down beats : 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 , and

  • each of the 4 up beats : 1+ , 2+ , 3+ and 4+

Phrase A below starts on the upbeat of 1 (1+).
Phrase B starts on the down beat of 2 (2).

Audio 14.4
(Audio plays 2x Rhythm pattern A, 1x Rhythm pattern B)

I have included a page of Rhythm Patterns (RP5) with phrases starting on 1+ and 2.
Write out some phrases yourself selecting different starting points in the bar (1+, 2, 2+, 3, etc.).

Hint : You can use Rhythm Patterns 1 - 5 by simply omitting the first note(s) to your required starting point.
For example in phrase A above replace the notes on the first two beats by a full rest and the new phrase starts on the down beat of 3.

Practise these phrases on the blues and other songs. Use chord root tones to start with, then chord tones and scales until you are confident enough to use them in full improvisation.

Included in this session some tracks swapping fours on the Too Much chord progression.

  • On Too Much 1 - I play the first 4 bar phrase, you play the next 4 bar phrase, I play the following 4 bars, you again the next and so on.

  • On Too Much 2 - You play the first 4 bar phrase, I play the next 4 bar phrase, You play the following 4 bars, I again the next and so on.

  • On Too Much 3 - you can listen to the combined result, where I play the entire solo.

Start some phrases on down beat 1, some phrases on other points in the bar to provide contrast.

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S 14.4 : IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7 Scales

Practise IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7 progressions in all twelve keys. Play the appropriate mode for each chord as shown below.

The Play- a-Long track is in Circle of Fifths order. It starts on the IIm7 -V7-I in C major (Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7). It plays the 4 bar progression in each key twice.

Audio 14.2

Keyboard players play modes in the right hand and accompanying chord progression in the left hand.
Guitar players practise modes and chords separately.
Appropriate chord voicings are included on Treble Clef. Pianists play these chords in the left hand 1 octave lower as written.

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S 14.5 - Session Materials

ItemMidi fileSheet music
Too MuchDemo P-a-L C instr.Bb instr.Eb instr.
Too Much - swapping 4sToo Much 1Too Much 2
Too Much 3 (Demo)
II-V-I modes (in Co5 order) 2 x 4 bars eachp.1p.2Keyboard chords
Rhythm PatternsDemo RP 5Blank sheets

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© 2003 Michael Furstner (Jazclass)