# The Jazz Blues Progression For the learning jazz guitarist, familiarity with the jazz blues progression is essential. It incorporates a number idiomatic changes that are used in many standard jazz tunes, and is a worthwhile addition to your repertoire. ## The Framework Let's start with the basic framework of the 12-bar progression: I7 / IV7 / I7 / I7 IV7 / IV7 / I7 / VI7 iim7 / V7 / I7 - VI7 / iim7 - V7 If you're familiar with the 12-bar blues, you'll notice a few differences. It begins with the `VI7` in bar 8 (which is `F#7` in the key of `A`). This is followed by a `ii-V-I` in the key of `A`, and a `I-VI-ii-V` turnaround. Note: If this notation makes no sense to you stay tuned for my introductory "Music Theory for Jazz" articles. You can start with learning about the the [diatonic scale](http://my.vexflow.com/articles/2). ## Jazz Blues in A Anyhow, before we proceed, let's translate the above progression to a chord-progression in the key of `A`. I'll add a few chord substitutions to color it up a bit. A7 / D7 / A7 / Em7 - A7 D7 / D#dim / A7 - Ab7 / G7 - Gb7 Bm7 / E7 / A7 - F#7 / Bm7 - E7#5 Here's one way to play the changes. (**Note**: There are some new substitutions here, which I've transcribed at the end of this article.) video http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ti-ZxDmr4tk ## Improvising There are many ways to improvise over this progression, and perhaps the simplest scale to use is A-mixolydian. Consider this your home scale. You can return to this scale if you're not sure what scale to use, or if you lose your place in the tune. Over the `IV` chords (`D7`), you can use D-mixolydian. In fact, you can use the root-mixolydian over any of the dominant chords in the progression. Here's a chromatic descending jazz line in A-mixolydian that you can play over the progression: [Descending Jazz Line](http://my.vexflow.com/articles/40). To make it more interesting, you can use the lydian dominant scale over the `I7` and `IV7` chords, and the altered dominant scale over the `V7` and `VI7` chords. The lydian dominant is simply a major scale with a flat seventh and a sharp fourth. Here's a common fingering in fifth position for the A lydian dominant. vextab options space=20 player=true tabstave notation=true key=A notes 7/4 $root$ 4-6-7/3 $M2,M3,P4$ 5-7-8/2 $P5,M6,m7$ 5/1 $root$ The altered dominant scale is spelled `root m2 M2 M3 b5 #5 m7` and works will over seventh chords that function as a dominant, e.g., chords that **lead** to a `I` chord (or substitute). Here's a common fingering in fifth position for the `A` altered dominant. vextab options space=20 player=true tabstave notation=true key=A notes 7-8/4 $root,m2$ 5-6-8/3 $M2,M3,b5$ 6-8/2 $#5,m7$ 5/1 $root$ Other interesting scales to try out over these chords are: the wholetone scale, half-whole diminished, and the harmonic major. ## Common Substitutions The jazz blues is loaded with opportunities for substitutions. Here's a cliched set of changes based on the jazz-blues. I used some of these substitutions in the earlier video. vextab options font-size=14 space=35 player=true instrument=acoustic_guitar_nylon tabstave notation=true key=A notes !octave-shift -2! notes :h (5/6.5/4.6/3) (5/6.5/4.6/3.7/2) | notes :h (5/5.4/4.5/3) (5/5.4/4.5/3.5/2) | notes :w (5/6.5/4.4/3.7/2) | notes :h (7/5.5/4.7/3.7/2) (5/6.5/4.6/3.7/2) text :h, .-1, A7, A13, |, D7, D9,|, :w, A9/13,|, :h, Em9, A13 options space=15 tabstave notation=true key=A notes :w (5/5.6/4.5/3.7/2) | notes :w (6/5.7/4.5/3.7/2) | notes :h (5/6.5/4.6/3) (4/6.4/4.5/3) | notes :h (3/6.3/4.4/3) (2/6.2/4.3/3) text :w,.-1,D7#11,| ,D#Dim,| ,:h,A7,Ab7,| ,G7,F7 options space=15 tabstave notation=true key=A notes :w (2/5.2/3.3/2) | notes :w (2/4.1/3.3/2.3/1) | notes :h (5/6.5/4.6/3) (8/6.8/4.9/3) | notes :h (7/6.7/4.8/3) (6/6.6/4.7/3) | notes :w (5/6.5/4.6/3.7/2) text :w,.-1,Bm7,| ,E7#9,| ,:h,A7,C7,| ,B7,Bb7,|,:w,A13 Stick around for my follow up articles on jazz blues progressions, where I'll play and transcribe a few lines that work well with it.