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 how to mix together some jazz chords and some blues piano chords into an incredible chord blend.

This combo of jazz and blues piano 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

7 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 chord progression 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.

6. Always keep in mind that a blues doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact it’s one of those simple chord progression piano sounds that can be dressed up or dressed down.

7. Speaking of dressing down, a blues chord progression, check out this basic 12 bar blues piano lesson to learn more.

Bonus Gospel Music Influence On This Chord Progression

8. 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 piano chords regularly.

More Blues Piano Chords, 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.

It’s also a great scale to build blues piano licks from.

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 blues progression piano lesson and 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.