Jazz piano – 2-5-1 Lick 1

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Because the 2-5-1 is used so much in jazz music, your improvisation can be a lot easier, if you know a few licks that you can play over this segment, ideally in any key. This will make it possible to play something familiar while improvising, whenever you hit a 2-5-1, or using a lick as a starting point and modifying it on the fly.

Here is a lick in the key of F to get you started or enhance your repertoire of 2-5-1 licks.

251 jazz piano lick in F

Even though the lick consists only of the notes of the F major scale, it sounds quite good if you add bass and drums:

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The 2-5-1 progression with rootless chords

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There are many possible variations of the basic 2-5-1 chord progression using seventh chords. A common one is to play rootless ninth chords for the ii minor seventh and I major seventh chord, and a thirteenth chord for the V dominant seventh chord.

251 piano chords in f_9-13

This is how you create these chords from the seventh chords of the basic 2-5-1 in the key of F:

  • For G minor 9 you just add the ninth A on top of the G minor 7 chord, while removing the root G from the bottom. Remember that the ninth is the same as the second, so it is just on whole step up from the root.
  • Then you only have to move the F down one half step to arrive at C13. The thirteenth is the same note as the sixth, so for the C chord it is the A on top.
  • For F major 9, just as with G minor nine, you add the ninth G on top of the F major 7 chord and remove the root F from the bottom.

While this may sound complicated, it is a rather simple movement on the keyboard:

Gm9 rootless piano chord

G minor 9 (rootless)

c13 rootless piano chord

C 13 (rootless)

fmaj9 rootless piano chord

F major 9 (rootless)

This progression is very popular [...]  read more

Jazz Piano – the 2-5-1 Chord Progression

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The 2-5-1 (or ii – V – I) chord progression is the most used building block in jazz music. It’s basic version consists of the ii minor seventh chord, followed by a V dominant seventh chord and the I major seventh chord. These seventh chords are taken from the diatonic chords for the respective key. So if you are in the key of F major, for example, the diatonic chords are the following:

jazz piano diatonic 7th chords in F

The diatonic seventh chords in the key of F major

If you create the 2-5-1 progression from these seventh chords, it looks like this, with the sevenths marked in blue:

251 piano chords in f

G minor 7 piano chord

G minor 7

C7 piano chord chart

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