23 March 2013


If you are beginning to play traditional jazz and trying to develop your skills at improvisation, one of the lessons you have to learn concerns the occasional appearance of the chord III7th in bars (measures) 23 and 24 .
As you probably know, in 32-bar songs, it helps to 'feel' the tune as four groups of eight bars.

And in just a few of these 32-bar structures (enough to catch you out), the final two bars in the third group of eight (Bars 23 and 24) are based on the chord of III7th . This means that, if you are in the key of C, for example, then that chord will be E7thIf you are in the key of F, that chord will be A7th  .... and so on. Get it?

In this example, I have highlighted Bars 23 and 24 of It's a Long Way To Tipperary. As you can see, if you are playing the tune in C, then these two bars are based on E7th 
The effect of this chord is usually to provide an exciting mini-climax to the tune, leading to a rapid intake of breath before you motor into the satisfying final eight bars. Incidentally, in these situations, it often happens that those final eight bars (25 - 32) follow The Sunshine Sequence, so that makes improvising through them quite simple. I have written about The Sunshine Sequence before. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

As the use of III7th in Bars 23 - 24 is a somewhat unusual chord development, I have noticed players being taken by surprise by it and producing something that sounds horribly wrong during those two bars.

So when you are improvising, it is important to be aware when this chord is coming up. Look upon it as an iceberg on the horizon: don't let it knock you off your course. You must improvise on that chord at that point in the tune. If you do anything else, the effect can be excruciating.

Here are a few examples of songs you need to be aware of because they employ that device in Bars 23 - 24.

Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll
Alice Blue Gown
All By Myself
Any Time
Barefoot Boy
Beneath Hawaiian Skies
Big Bear Stomp (main theme)
Blame it on the Blues (main theme)
Come Back Sweet Pappa
Crying for the Carolines
Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
Don't Bring Lulu
Down in Jungle Town
Fidgety Feet (main theme)
For Me and My Girl
Heart of My Heart
I Left My Heart in San Francisco
I'm Nobody's Baby
I'm Sorry I Made You Cry
It Happened in Monterey
I've Never Been to New York (the Jonathan Doyle composition)
If I Had a Talking Picture of You
In Apple Blossom Time
Irish Black Bottom
It's a Long Way to Tipperary
Mama's Gone, Goodbye
Mobile Stomp
Moose March
My Cutie's Due at Two to Two
New Orleans Shuffle
New Orleans Wiggle (main theme)
Paper Doll
Red Hot Mama
Roses of Picardy
Running Wild
Salutation March (main theme)
The Breeze
The Curse of an Aching Heart
The Sheik of Araby
The Waltz You Saved for Me
The World is Waiting for the Sunrise
There's a Blue Ridge Round My Heart Virginia
Tishomingo Blues
Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie
When You Wore a Tulip
You Were Meant for Me
You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You