Jazz Piano Chords Every Pianist Should Know

Hey there! Welcome to this free jazz piano chords voicing tutorial. We’re going to explore some must know jazz chords today. Happy to have you hear with me!

In today’s video lesson I’m going to teach you 5 dominant jazz piano chords that everybody piano player must know.

These 5 voicings will work in hundreds of tunes. You can use them for solo piano, playing behind a singer, or even in comping situations. They’re versatile and definitely what I’d consider “bread and butter” voicings.

jazz piano chordsI just got home from a 3 week tour. I’m really happy to be home! So, I wanted to share with you a little ‘home from tour’ gift from me. 🙂

Let’s get started learning these new jazz piano chords right now! Once you watch the video make sure you scroll down for some very important tips.

5 Dominant Jazz Piano Chords Video

Take 5 minutes and watch and listen as I demonstrate the chords. I also break down the music theory of each chord and demonstrate them over a simple chord progression too. 🙂

One you finish the video scroll down for some very important tips and the notation.

Jazz Piano Chords Mastery – 9 Starter Tips

1. The vast majority of time basic jazz piano chords will contain a root, a 3rd, a 5th, and a 7th. If you’re not sure how to figure these piano chords in a fast way then check out this beginner jazz piano course.

2. Once those basic notes are in place we’ll add usually add on 1 or 2 ‘spice’ notes called extensions. Those are the ‘money’ notes so to speak and really make your chords sound rich and beautiful.

3. Every voicing in the video above contains at least 1 extension of the chord.  The first 2 voicings contain 1 extension of the chord. The last 3 contain 2 extensions of the chord.

4. Simply put, an extension of a chord is either a 9th, an 11th, or a 13th.

5. The left hand of each of these chords is just a root and seventh. This is pretty much the basic concept behind a  shell voicing. Jazz piano master Bud Powell used these type of chords extensively in many tunes!

6. jazz piano chordsWant to learn how to apply these chords to actual tunes?

There are tons of chord tutorials inside the Premium Membership Course that shows you how to do that.)

7. Notice how the chords that have altered extensions have such a strong need for resolution?

Using altered harmony is almost a secret weapon when trying to create a sense of tension in release in your music.

8. Any of the chords here that have altered extensions will sound great either resolving to a major chord or a minor chord in a V-I chord progression or a 2 5 1.

9. If you want to use these chords in a II-V-I chord progression you’ll need to learn some other chords voicings.

For example, learning more voicings for major piano chords, minor piano chords, and half diminished 7th chords will be very helpful for you.

5 Jazz Piano Chords Sheet Music

jazz piano chords(Click to expand. Feel free to share online. The only thing I ask is you credit freejazzlessons.com with a link back to the site if you do. Thanks.)

9 Jazz Theory Shortcuts For These Jazz Piano Chords

It’s important that you understand the role of each note inside each voicing. That’s how you’ll get really good at throwing these 5 jazz piano chords into tunes and quickly transposing into all 12 keys.

When you can instantly play these chords in any key, you’ve unlocked an essential piece of freedom for yourself at the keys.

So, here are some guide points that you’ll want to be able to recognize as you go through this.

  1. Can you see how each one of these jazz piano chords have the root and 7th on the bottom? If not, start working on this jazz theory skill asap!
  2. Do you also see that the 3rd is the lowest note in the right?
  3. Can you see that the next note up is the 13th of the chord? Sometimes this chord extension is a natural 13th and sometimes it’s a flat 13th (like we discuss in the video).
  4. The 13th is a note that sounds fantastic on dominant chords. For example, check out this 12 bar blues piano tutorial to see how to use the 13th as a sweet sounding decoration.
  5. Can you recognize quickly that the melody note on these chords is either a root, a flat 9, or a regular 9.
  6. It’s important to think about how the melody relates to the chord. As a matter of fact, every chord you learn should be thought of as just a harmonization of a melody.
  7. Want to see the power of learning these type of jazz piano chords on any key? Check out this video now.
  8. 1 of the best ways to begin reharmonizing your piano songs and to learn jazz standards. is to learn voicings for every note of the scale. Even better if you can do it for all 12 notes. Check out this harmony theory lesson to learn more.
  9. Organizing your voicings in terms of scale degrees is how pro pianists think about jazz piano chords and harmony. Still getting used to scales? Check out this 10 jazz scales lesson.

7 Types Of Jazz Piano Chords You Need To Know

In the video for this lesson we’ve explored variations on the dominant seventh chord. This type of chord is the lifeblood of jazz harmony. It’s important to point out though, that there are actually 7 main types of jazz piano chords you need to explore.

Some are more popular then others but it’s important that you start with a comprehensive list like this. Here they are:

  1. Major 7th chords.
  2. Minor 7th chords
  3. Dominant 7th chords
  4. minor 7(b5) chords
  5. Diminished 7th chords
  6. Major7 #5 chords
  7. Minor (maj7) chords

If you’re a jazz piano beginner you’re in luck.

We have lots of courses that break down these chords, the jazz theory behind them, and how to use them in real songs. You can check out a big list of our popular courses right here.

We’re Growing!

jazz piano chordsBefore I sign off here and you go practice these jazz piano chords, I’d like to share something that I think is pretty cool.

Earlier today I looked back at the post I wrote a year ago (Why Do You Play Jazz? Finding Your Motivation As A Jazz Musician).

For fun, I also looked back at some of the website traffic numbers that FJL was getting 2 years ago and than compared them to today’s numbers.

Now, I knew the site had grown but I had never compared it to where we were a year ago.  My jaw dropped when I took a look…

The number of regular readers of  FJL blog has literally grown by over 400% in just 1 year. Also, the # of people who have subscribed to the Premium Jazz Lessons Course has grown by over 500% in 7 months.

I’m simply floored by these numbers and humbled that I have the opportunity to share music with so many people.  You all are amazing!

If you’ve been a regular reader of the site for a long time or  have been a reader for a few months I’d like to thank you for your support!

If you’re new reader or today’s your first day on FJL I’d like to welcome you!

I couldn’t do what I do without you. It’s truly a pleasure to share my love of jazz with you and to help you achieve your goals as musicians.

You guys rock…or.umm…swing 🙂

Have Fun Practicing

On a final note, enjoy the 5 dominant jazz piano chords from today’s lesson. Practice them in all 12 keys, throw them in some tunes, and put them in your music. Applying them to real music is the secret!

Watch for your next email lesson from me tomorrow.

Carpe diem my friends and thank you again! 🙂

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If you enjoyed today’s lesson, have a question, or just want to say hi please leave a comment below this article. It’s always nice to hear from you.  🙂

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