Jazz Guitar Chord Progressions

Chord progressions can make or break a song. They’re also an invaluable way of learning music theory – when Cmaj7 appears, this indicates an extended chord tone located a seventh above its root-third-fifth triad.

This gives it a more dramatic sound than its major counterpart.

1. 1-5-6-4

I vi IV V chord progressions have long been one of the hallmarks of modern piano playing, making learning them relatively straightforward – particularly for pianists in the key of C. This chord can be found on numerous pop hits from Elton John’s Crocodile Rock to Green Day’s Basket Case to Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. Experiment by altering chord orders; this can add tension and emotion to your playing! This product is only available as digital download; shortly after purchase an email will provide access to your download link!

2. 2-5-1-Jazz

The 2-5-1 progression forms the harmonic basis of most jazz standards. As an adaptable movement that can fit any key and contains many of the essential chord voicings for Jazz Guitar players.

When playing a 2 5 1 progression it is essential to remember that the ‘1’ chord in each key may differ from its counterpart in the original key. A ii-v-i progression allows thirds from one chord to move down half-steps into sevenths on another chord – a characteristic feature of jazz harmony. This process is known as voice leading.

Below is an example of a simple guitar 2-5-1 chord progression in C Major. Notice how the chord voicings allow for smooth voice leading between D min 7 (iii) and V7 (F major 7), an essential aspect of jazz harmony.

3. 2-5-3-Jazz

Learning jazz chord progressions expands your harmonic vocabulary while opening up new musical possibilities. These progressions form the backbone of many jazz standards and playing them can help improve your improvising over them.

A 2-5-1 progression is a chord progression that starts on a minor chord and transitions through four major chords before concluding with one major chord, creating a cadential feel and satisfying our ears.

Blues players frequently create unresolved tension and anticipation that is characteristic of the style by making all V chords in this progression dominant chords, which creates an unnerved feeling.

An effective alternative way of producing similar effects is through secondary dominants. Secondary dominants are chords from outside of the current key which are related to chords in a progression by way of V-I relationships.

4. 1-5-6-4-Jazz

The 1-5-6-4 chord progression can often be found in ballad style songs such as Toto’s Africa or John Legend’s All of Me. This chord progression works great both major and minor keys; don’t hesitate to practice it in either key!

You’ll often hear this progression used in RnB music that draws upon jazz influences. This chord progression works particularly well when combined with chord extensions such as major 7th or minor 9th chords, adding tension to your playing.

When it comes to playing jazz, this progression is an indispensable one that every guitarist must master. It forms the basis for many jazz standards, and can easily be altered for use in different keys using simple substitutions such as backdoor ii-V-I progression mentioned earlier.

5. 1-5-3-Jazz-Jazz

Chord progressions are at the core of all music, including jazz. Learning these short chord progressions is an excellent way to broaden your harmonic vocabulary and develop standard playing. Two five one chord progressions can be found almost everywhere in jazz standards and often form the thematic basis of numerous songs.

The minor two five one is a variation on the major two five one which employs chords from the minor scale. Similar to its major two five one counterpart, it utilizes secondary dominants which provide you with opportunities to temporarily depart from your home key before returning back. Furthermore, voice leading works very nicely as no chord moves more than half step.