Jazz Guitar Improvisation on Minor II-V-I

How to Improvise on the Minor II-V-I Progression

Minor II-V-I mini-guide for jazz guitarists

The minor II-V’s and II-V-I progressions are troublesome for most players. I found out that even fairly experienced musicians have some difficulties coping with this basic cadence in the midst of jazz guitar improvisation.

This article is aimed towards the typical intermediate jazz improviser. The goal is to make you to discover a few ways to finally play as easily on the minor II-V as on a good old Dm7 to G7. Wouldn’t that be great?! (-:

First, I will propose a simple and somewhat “wrong” solution for approaching the minor II-V-I progression. In fact, it’s a little secret shortcut. Then, we’ll dissect all the most used chords / scales relationships for the IIm7(b5) the V7 and the minor I. Those three chords have multiple opportunities for sounds and textures. Some options are better than others, depending on the situation!

Lastly, from all material covered in the article, we will select exactly one scale for each chord in the minor II-V-I and from there I will propose the best solution for jazz guitar improvisation on this progression. If you can cope with most minor cadences using this last solution, you will always be playing the right notes in the right place and have continuity in your melodic ideas.

If you’ve been reading on JazzGuitarLessons.net a little bit, you’re already familiar with my thoroughness. I’m presenting a lot of material and it’s a good idea to have some reference for this kind of jazz theory information. All this material can be applied in virtually an infinity of beautiful lines. As always, it’s all yours to discover.

I’m barely presenting the theory here, you deal with making music! (-: If you want to skip to the playing right away, go straight to the last page, where I created a cheat sheet for you to print out and use in the practice room. Enjoy!

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Minor II-V-I mini-guide for jazz guitarists


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