How To Play A Jazz Blues Chord Progression

jazz blues chord progressionIn today’s free jazz blues chords lesson we’re going to take an in depth look at some jazz chords you can add into your blues playing.

These chords will make your blues sound way more interesting.

Players like Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, Wynton Kelly, Bud Powell, Gene Harris, Ray Charles, and hundreds of other great jazz musicians made this blues chord progression famous.

If they played it then we should learn how to play it too! :)

So, let’s get starting learning this fun jazz chord progression.  The best place to start is to watch the video first (video, free jam track, notation, and lesson below.)

Here is the chord chart for the 12 bar blues played in a normal way. You can also click on the chord chart to expand and print. (Bonus: Free Jam Practice Track at end of lesson).Blues Chord Progression

Here is the chord chart for the 12 bar blues reharmonized with the jazz blues chord changes. You can also click on all the chord charts to expand and print them.

Jazz Blues Chord Progression Chart

Tips To Understand This Jazz Blues Chord Progression

1. As we’ve talked about in many lesson before the #1 jazz chord progression is the II-V-I (2-5-1).

Most of the reharmonizations in this chord progression are just simply changing some of the regular blues chords and adding 2-5-1′s.

2. Don’t be intimidated by all these extra chords. Jazz musicians love to solo over the II-V-I chord progression.

Essentially, what we do is just set up important chords in the blues by playing a II-V right before hand.  It makes the resolution chord more exciting.

3. For example, to set up the IV chord in measure 5 we play a quick II-V-I chord progression of the IV in bar 4.  Gm7 C7 to F7.

4. In bar 9 and 10 instead of playing the normal V, IV, and I chords we substitute a II-V-I instead.  Standard stuff :)

If you want to learn a fun lick to play over this check out this Bud Powell influenced lick, this Charlie Parker Lick, or this awesome jazz lick.

5. To got one step further we set up the Dminor7 chord in bar 9 by playing a II-V before that in bar 8 Emin7(b5) and A7.  Here’s a minor lick you can play here.

Gospel Music Influence On This Chord Progression

6. In bar 6 the F#dim7 chord comes from the influence of gospel music. You’ll see the IV going to #IVdim7 and back to I in old school gospel music all the time.

More Blues Licks and Lessons

The intersection of jazz and blues is really a beautiful sound. There are so many great players who were heavily influenced by the blues and used it as a part of their vocabulary.

Since it’s so important I’ve created a short list of some additional resources for you to explore the blues.

If you want some actual blues licks to play over these chords you can check out this Oscar Peterson lick lesson. Oscar Peterson was a masterful blues player!

If you’re new to the blues sound in general than I also recommend you check out this free blues scale for piano guide. It’s a great place to get comfortable with the most important scale in blues.

If you’re looking for chords to play over this chord progression then also check out this jazz blues comping chord lesson.

how to play jazz blues pianoIf you want to learn more about authentic blues piano than I also recommend you check out the DVD Learning Chicago Blues Piano.

 

Bonus: Here is a free jam track that you can use to practice this jazz blues chord progression. The track is in the key of C and features real samples of upright bass, drums, and percussion. Stretch out, learn, and jam.  

Feel free to come back to the site regularly to practice. Enjoy! 

If you have questions and enjoyed this free jazz lesson please leave a comment below.  If you’re new here be sure to sign up for the free jazz lessons email list on the top left, right, or just below.

Steve Nixon is the proud owner of Freejazzlessons.com. He is a world touring jazz and blues keyboard player and educator.

Steve is the author of Premium Jazz Lessons Elite Membership (A comprehensive all-in-one online jazz piano course.)

He is also the author of the The Jazz Masters Method DVD (A study of 9 legendary jazz piano players).

If you are a blues piano fan you can also check out his popular Learn Blues Piano DVD Course.


  • Arthur Greene

    Thanks for the video! Just one question though. Can the Jazz Blues be used for solo piano in the same way the standard twelve bar blues can? It just seems quite tricky trying to go anywhere with them with both hands tied up trying to fill those chords.
          Thank you.