Hey Jazz Guy,
Now that I got the A section of “Rhythm Changes” together, what can I play on the dominant chords in the bridge? –Subordinate in Salem
The bridge or B section changes in “I Got Rhythm” is one of the most commonly found harmonic progressions in jazz. Using all dominant chords, it cycles from III7 to VI7, II7 to V7. Another analysis is to consider each chord the “five of” the chord that comes after it (V7/vi, V7/ii, V7/V, V7 respectively). Here we find ourselves back in Bb, and the progression will be D7, G7, C7, F7. Leaving the bebop vocabulary for a moment, the examples below present some modern ideas for playing over these dominant chords, or any other dominants you might come across. Note that with the exception of the first example, the lines each morph the harmony a little bit, to create interest. In [Ex 1] the focus is on approaching each chord tone from above and below. [Ex 2] uses a hexatonic scale created by a G triad and F triad. Although the lead sheet says G7, now you’re playing more of a G7sus sound, or F/G stacked triads. The augmented scale is used in the third example [Ex 3] and the harmony becomes C7+ chord. Lastly, in [Ex 4] we are using the B major pentatonic scale to highlight the notes of F7 Alt (resolve to ‘d’ at the end for BbMaj7). Don’t forget that just because the music says “F7” you are not confined to only F mixolydian! A dominant chord is like an open book, and a series like this invites exploration. So play on, intrepid harmonic traveler, and you shall feel subordinate to dominant chords no more.
In-Depth look at Rhythm Changes Bridge:
The bridge to Rhythm Changes is really an exercise in playing over dominant chords. So one way to practice this is to just loop one dominant chord and play over that for a long time. Then practice just D7 to G7 back and forth, transposing what you’ve learned down to C7 F7. That said, the language is very important here. In our example, we used a more modern vocabulary, which is great, as long as you don’t stuff a Charlie Parker line in the middle! The main point is, once you’ve got something down over these chords, continue to evolve it. There are so many harmonic possibilities over dominant chords that you want to study as many options as you can, so that when you’re on your 13th chorus, you still have something to say!
Good luck jazz guy,
Link to PDF Example: HJG – Rhythm Changes Part 2 (bridge)