Jazz chord progressions
Jazz is often played with a 12 bar structure, as in blues, although the 32 bar structure is very common. Presented here are some common blues jazz progressions, mostly in the form of 12 bar. Each 12 bar progression is presented in one key, but an advice is to practice them in various keys. The most common keys in jazz in general are Eb, Bb, F, Ab and Db. Most compositions are written in flatten keys since they are suitable for horns.
Common jazz progressions
ii - V - I
The ii - V - I is the first jazz progression to learn. The roman numerals could for example be translated to Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7.
A way to play Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 with jazz chords and economical movements:
Dm7: X5756X - G7: XX5767 - Cmaj7: X3545X
A ii - V - I progression in another key could be Gm7 - C7 - Fmaj7, with suggestion of chords:
Gm7: 3X333X - C7: X3231X - Fmaj7: 1X221X
I - vi - ii - V
The I - vi - ii - V (turn back progression) is another frequently used progression in the genre. The roman numerals could for example be translated to Cmaj7 - Am7 - Dm7 - G7. It is also referred as the I - vi - ii - V - I progression since it normally leads back to a new section what starts with the I chord.
A I - vi - ii - V progression in another key could be Fmaj7 - Dm7 - Gm7 - C7, with suggestion of chords:
Fmaj7: XX3555 -Dm7: X5756X - Gm7: 3X333X - C7: X3231X.
The turn back progression is also refrerred to as I - VI - ii - V (with a dominant VI chord).
How to read the tables
These tables present the structure in 12 bars that you should read from measure 1 to 12 like this:
Basic 12 bar form progression in G
This is a very basic progression with a 12 bar structure.
You are advice to used suitable jazz chords instead of regular chords. Also, the dominant seventh chords could be substituted by other extended chords like 9th and 13th as well as altered chords like #9.
12 bar progression in G
This is another of the most common 12 bar structures in the jazz blues style, (only the eight bar differ from the previous).
12 bar progression in G with more changes
To the 12 bar progressions above, additional chords and some shorter changes could be added.
|C7||C7||G7||Bm7 / E7 /|
|Am7||D7||G7||Am7 / G7|
12 bar progression in A
Same as "12 bar progression in G" above, but in another key, and with a turnaround on the two last measures.
|Bm7||E7||A7 F#7||Bm7 E7|
Blues jazz progression with substitutions
The same 12 bar as above with substitutions.
|Bm11||E9||A7 F#7||Bm7 E7|
Blues jazz progression with chromatic substitutions
Here is a progression with some chromatic ideas.
|Bm7||E7||A7 F#7||Bm7 E7|
Minor 12 bar progression
Here is a suggestion of a basic minor jazz progression.
A second basic minor 12 Bar progression
Here is another easy minor jazz progression, quite similar with the previous.
The Bm7b5 chord with short notation: x2323X.
A third minor progression
Here is a variation on the above 12 bar, including a turnaround.
Some of the progression presented here were listed in the book Blues Guitar Rules (#CommissionsEarned) in which you can find more on the same subject. For learning famous jazz tunes, you should search for so-called Fake books.
See also The Jazz Guitar Chords ebook over 75 chord progressions including fingerings.
Go back to main section of Jazz guitar.