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The Two-Five-One Playground

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Welcome to the Two Five One Playground. If you want to play be-bop jazz, there are lots of materials out there to choose from. I like to transcribe the parts of solos that I find original, then isolate the 'lick' that stands out, then play it in all twelve keys. So many of these are over the 2-5-1 changes, that I decided to start documenting the ones I have found over the years.

A 2-5-1 change is, arguably, the most common building block of jazz. To give you an idea of what it is, it is a chord progression. In whatever key you happen to be playing in, the 'TWO' change is a minor chord, a full step up from the 'root' ( the key you are in). The 'FIVE' change, is a dominant 7th chord, a perfect fifth up from the 'root', and the 'ONE', is a major 7 chord in the key.

To be a cool be-bop player, set your metronome on 'slow', play the examples, then transpose and play in all keys. I like to go in order of the circle of fifths. In other words, start in, say, the key of C, so the 2-5-1 is D minor, G seven, and C Major seven. ( Dm G7 CM7 ) then next play it in the key of F. In that key, the chords are ( Gm C7 FM7 )... and so on. Here's a list of the twelve keys, and the 2-5-1 progressions for each, in the order of the circle of fifths.

List of 2-5-1 chords

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I heard this in a Bud Powell version of 'How High The Moon'.

Listen... TWO_FIVE_ONE.mid

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This lick shows up in 'Bossa Nova U.S.A.' by Brubeck.

Listen example2.mid

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This might give some ideas of how to play the left hand, just a couple notes! The right hand is just major triads going up by minor thirds.

Listen example3.mid

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Really, just a convoluted way to play a major scale.

Listen Example4.mid

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This is one of the most useful riffs. It takes time to learn in all 12 keys, but definitely worthwhile.

Listen Example5.mid Click here for printable size

I hear this pattern, an alliteration of which might be what I call "dippy dappy" in many solos, it is, again, a fancy way to play a major scale.

Listen to Example6.mid

More two-five-one examples... just click below!

Example # 7

example #7

Example # 8

example #8