Jazz Basics Lesson #2: Common Chord Progressions

May 11, 2019

Hello there. Since I've become an admin for this group I'm now gonna try teaching everyone here basic jazz elements. This lesson will talk about common chord progressions in jazz.

Common Chord Progressions:

As @EthanHarris has already stated, the most fundamental progression in jazz is the ii-V-I (in C: Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7). It's also known as a circle progression since it moves through a cycle of fifths. 

Another common progression is the minor ii-V-i (in c: Dm7b5 (or D half diminished) - G7b9 - Cm7). 

Another common progression in jazz is the iii-iv-ii-V or I-iv-ii-V (in C: Em7 - Am7 - Dm7 - G7 or Cmaj7 - Am7 - Dm7 - G7). This is basically another circle progression but extended to start on the iii or iv chord. Often times the iv chord will be turned into a dominant chord making it a V/ii instead (in C: Em7 - A7 - Dm7 - G7). 

Of course, there's also the minor version of this progression (in c: Ebmaj7 - Ab7 - Dm7b5 - G7b9). This one is less common than the other progressions but it's still used in some tunes. 

Almost all tonal jazz is based on these chord progressions.

I hope this lesson was helpful to anyone trying to learn and understand jazz. For those who already understand jazz, feedback about anything I may have missed or gotten wrong would be appreciated. I would also like everyone's opinion about what the next lesson should be. I'm thinking about either doing a lesson on chord extensions or the relationship between chord progressions next. Let me know which one you'd like to see next or if there's a different topic you'd like me to teach next. Hope everybody learned something with this.