How to play JAZZ on the mandolin

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 The IIm7  V7  I Maj7 Progression

Tune Up


Miles Davis jazz

The chord progression IIm7  V7  I Maj7 is probably used more often in Jazz than any other, especially tunes of the 1940s and 1950s.  Being able to negotiate this progression both comping and soloing in every key is essential.  The Miles Davis piece Tune Up uses this progression in three keys and uses IIm7 V7 in one other.  It is a good piece to begin your journey to understanding and using this progression. 


Download and print out the chord progression to Tune Up HERE.

Miles playing Tune Up is HERE.


There are many variations of the middle and last few bars of Tune Up.  For the sake of this study, use the chords written in the PDF progression.  Tune Up starts with the chords        Em7   A7    D Maj7     or       IIm7  V7  I Maj7         in D Major.  Learn to play them here. 

mandolin jazz chord voicings


The next set of chords is exactly the same thing 2 frets (1 whole step) lower.  Dm7 G7 C Maj7 or IIm7 V7 I Maj7 in C major. 

jazz mandolin chord voicings

The next set of chords is musically the same thing  with one additional chord a step lower again.  Cm7 F7 Bb Maj7 Eb Maj7 or IIm7 V7 I Maj7 IV Maj7 in Bb major. 

Jazz mandolin chord voicings


The only othe voicings needed for the tune are F#m7 and B7.  Y+As they will be the same voicings as used above, they will not be written here.  Download a PDF file of all the needed chords HERE


For those that want to look deeper into this subject, the PDF of chord voicings has a second page of 3 string rootless voicings.  Rootless voicings came into common Jazz use in the late 50s and early 60s.  Pianists such as Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly used them on recordings and the practice was quickly picked up on by other Jazz musicians.

Bill Evans Jazz

Best of luck and have fun learning Jazz!


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