Playing minor ii-V’s is a typical stumbling block for many jazz guitarists. Most teachers will give a bunch of theory and scales, and usually leaves the guitarist wondering what to actually do with this stuff.
Learning it from a master is a much better approach, so here are 4 ways that Joe Pass approached the minor ii-V in “No Greater Love” from his Joy Spring album. The tune is in Eb major so the minor ii-V’s are all in C minor. All the minor ii-V licks are great to transpose and use all over the neck.
Check out the recording:
The first time through Joe plays really simple arpeggios outlining the 5 chord and descending 1 chord. Great reminder that it really can be that easy!
Sharp 9/Flat 9
The second time through, Joe plays a line using the sharp 9 and flat 9, a common bebop device that leads him to resolve on the 5th of the C minor chord. He then follows the arpeggio down to the 5th of the C minor. Definitely one to put in your back pocket.
This lick shows Joe’s simplicity and how to make it sound great. He’s really only playing out of the C harmonic minor. But it works because he uses a half step resolution giving the impression of the V chord on beat 3 and resolves so strongly to C minor at the end of the lick. Also interesting to note the F minor triad at the beginning of the lick during the Dmi7b5.
Cry Me A River Lick
The “Cry Me A River”-lick has been used for decades with the minor ii-V. Here Joe plays it starting on the #9 of the V chord (Bb in this case). Again, just simple, proven stuff!
Let me know below what are some ways you like to approach the minor ii-V? What are some of your favorite solos with minor ii-Vs to ‘steal’ from?