Soloing over chord progressions can be a daunting task. Especially if you get into jazz when you’ve had a rock/metal background. You might know how to solo over common chord progressions such as ii-V-I’s, but what happens when you come across a different chord progression? If you’re like me you can tend to get stuck, or overanalyze the progression – not getting anywhere with the work you’ve put in.
An incredibly effective method to deal with this (but often forgotten) is to listen to what others have done over the same progression. Then steal the phrase and then tweak it to make it your own. I had to write this blog post because I’ve spent years struggling with anything that wasn’t a ii-V-I that everybody teaches you. Or what if the ii-V doesn’t go to a I but repeats or change keys?!?
I recently revisited Charlie Parker’s Scrapple From The Apple and in the second 4 bar phrase there is F / Bb Bdim / F / F (each / separates a measure). It’s also written F / Bb G#dim7/B / F / F. This type of progression trips me up. I see how the bass line moves going from Bb to B to C which could be used to make a line but generally I’m not sure what to do.
So I found a version by Tom Harrell in which Kenny Garrett also improvises. Here’s a nice 4 bar phrase that you can use in your own solos and tweak if you want. I get it up to a decent speed and play it with Band in a Box to see how it sounds.
Here’s the tune. The phrase begins around 36 seconds in:
Of course we can analyze the notes if we want but we don’t need to 😉