These jam tracks use the same, or similar, chord progressions as well-known songs. While not exact replicas, these are “in the style of…”

Song Style: Chameleon

Artist: Herbie Hancock

Progression: B♭m7 | E♭7

Improvise using:

  • B♭ minor pentatonic
  • B♭ Dorian
    • …same as E♭ Mixolydian
    • …same as A♭ major, so – any A♭ major CAGED shape

Song Style: Wonderful Slippery Thing

Artist: Guthrie Govan

Progression: Bm7 | D7 | Gmaj7 | F#7(#5)

Improvise using:

  • B min pentatonic
  • B Phrygian (G major)
  • Over the F#7:
    • F# diminished half-whole
    • F# altered (F# super Locrian, G melodic minor)
    • F# Phrygian dominant (B harmonic minor)

Song Style: Sunny

Artist: Bobby Hebb

Progression:

Am7 |  C7 | Fmaj7 | E7
Am7 |  C7 | Fmaj7 | E7
Am7 | Gm7 C7b5 | Fmaj7 | Bb13
Bm7b5 | E7#9 | Am7 | Bm7b5 E7#9

Improvise using:

  • A minor pentatonic
  • A blues
  • A minor pentatonic with chromatic approach
  • E half-whole diminished over the E7 chords
  • Dominant arpeggio over the Bb13

Song Style: Jessica

Artist: The Allman Brothers

Progression:

[A] SECTION:
A | D (32 bars)

[B] SECTION:
G | G | A | A |
G | G | A | A |
G | G | A | A |
G | G | E | E |

Improvise using:

  • Over the [A] Section:
    • A major arpeggio, major pentatonic, and major scale
  • Over the [B] Section:
    • D major arpeggio, major pentatonic, and major scale
    • Over the final E chord – back to A major arpeggio, major pentatonic, and major scale. Emphasize the G#.
  • Always target chord tones for any note you hold out and when chords change

Song Style: Starship Trooper

Artist: Yes

The chords in this jam track linger twice as long as the Yes song so that you have more time per chord.

Progression:

G | Eb | C | C

Improvise using:

  • Major arpeggios
  • Major pentatonic
  • Major scales

Song Style: Bust Your Windows

Artist: Jazmine Sullivan

Progression:
Fm | Fm | Db | Db | Bbm | Bbm | C7 | C7

Improvise using:

  • Fm pentatonic / F blues
  • Fm (F Aeolian, Ab major)
  • F harmonic minor

Song Style: Don’t Know Why

Artist: Norah Jones

Progression:
[A]
Bbmaj7 Bb7 | Ebmaj7 Daug | Gm7 C7 | Eb/F Bb
Bbmaj7 Bb7 | Ebmaj7 Daug | Gm7 C7 | Eb/F Bb
Gm7 C7 | Eb/F
[B]
Gm7 | C13 | F7 | F7
Gm7 | C13 | F7 | F6

Improvise using:

  • Bb major pentatonic
  • Arpeggios (F# note on the Daug sounds great!)

This is a good example of the chords going by too quickly (in the A-section) to play chord tones on every chord. Stick with the general mood of Bb major pentatonic, but treat the Daug chord as something special. For the B-section, the chords go by slowly enough to milk some arpeggios or chord scales.

Song Style: Stray Cat Strut, Hit The Road Jack

Artist: Stray Cats, Ray Charles

Stray Cat Strut is originally in the key of C and starts with a dominant 7 chord (C7) rather than a minor chord (Cm). Hit the Road Jack is originally in Ab minor. This backing track borrows the general chord progression of these songs – which is a common progression. The first three chords are diatonic while the final chord (the E7) is outside the key. That means you can exploit it to get some outside sounds.

Progression:
Am | G | F | E7 | [3x]
Am | Am | Am | Am

Improvise using:

  • A minor pentatonic
  • Over the E7: arpeggio, diminished, altered scale

Song Style: Lone Star State of Mind

Artist: Nanci Griffin

This song by Nanci Griffin has a mid-tempo bluegrass feel in the key of D. Both D major and D major pentatonic work well.

Progression:

G | A | D | D  (4x)
Em | A | D | D  (2x)
G | A | D | D  (2x)
G | A | D Em | (2/4) G A |
D | D D G A

Improvise using:

  • D major (all five shapes).
  • Major pentatonic of each chord
  • Arpeggio of each chord

Song Style: Big Me

Artist: Foo Fighters

Almost diatonic. Stay in C major or C major pentatonic. The E chord is out of the key, so hitting a G# note here sounds great. The C7 is also out of the key – so aim for a Bb note. Of course, arpeggios are always fair game.

Progression:

C | Am7 | G | F [2x]
E | F | C | C7
E | F | F | G
C | Am7 | G | F
C | G F | C | G

Improvise using:

  • C major (all five shapes).
  • C major pentatonic
  • Arpeggio of each chord
  • E is out of key – arpeggio
  • C7 is out of key – arpeggio

Song Style: I Will Survive

Artist: Gloria Gaynor / Cake

Key of Am, but with an E7 at the end to take us to A harmonic minor for a moment. All other chords are straight from Am (C major). However, in the Cake version, the Bm7b5 is changed to B major, the E7sus4 is just a regular E7, and the D chord alternates between Dm and D major for the solo. Finally, the original version is a little faster.

Progression:

Original Gloria Gaynor version:
Am | Dm | G | C | F | Bm7b5 | E7sus4 | E7

Cake version:
Am | Dm | G | C | F | B | E7 | E7
Am | D     | G | C | F | B | E7| E7

Improvise using:

  • Am pentatonic
  • Arpeggios for each chord
  • C major scale
  • B/D/F/G# diminished arpeggio over the E7

For added fun, try to play the original trumpet solo with the first backing track.