Hey Jazz Guy,
How can I turn my cool rock chords into
some sweet jazz changes? –Rockstar in Reno
Reharmonization is one of the hippest
ways to alter a chord progression. Let’s take
some chords and follow their transition from
pop rock to über-jazz. We will start with
a progression using basic guitar voicings
[Ex. 1]. The next thing to do is add 7ths to
each chord [Ex. 2]. Then, substitute chords
based on the cycle of 4ths [Ex. 3]. We’re in
5/4 now to make room for the changes. In
this case we will sub Dm7 for F and slip in
an Em7 before Am7. This creates a cycle of
4ths progression in the bass (E, A, D, G).
At this point we want to break the tonality
of C major, [Ex. 4] by turning some of
the minor chords into dominants (E7, D7).
Now for the really fun part, adding the tensions.
If we just take a sample of the spice
rack [Ex. 5] (season to taste), we get some
cool altered tensions (#9, b13) on the dominants,
and lovely 9ths and 6ths on the major
and minors. Now we have a jazzy sounding
chord sequence, but we can go further by
substituting the tri-tone subs [Ex. 6] for E7
and D7 using Bb13 and Ab7(#11) instead. II-V
progressions can resolve down a half-step,
in the same way dominants can, so next we
can treat the IIm-V as if it were one dominant
chord using Ebm7 and Ab7to lead to
Dm9 [Ex 7]. To go off the deep end, we have
some Coltrane triads over a pedal tone [Ex.
8]. There are infinite ways to reharmonize,
but these ideas should give you a rocking
place to start. Jazz hard!
Jake Hertzog is the jazz ambassador to the
non-jazz world. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Jake’s latest release is