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Enter the Practice Room: Diminished Over V

When practising, it’s quite important that we play exercises that resolve if we’re to assimilate them into our vocabulary effectively. Here’s something that I’ve been working on with a student recently as we look at playing over minor ii V i cadences. It’s actually based on a Janek Gwizdala exercise but has been adapted and stretched out to really help us get inside the sound. The framework we’ve been slotting it into is Kenny Dorham’s ‘Blue Bossa’.

By superimposing a diminished 7th arpeggio off of the third degree of a dominant chord, we imply a 7b9 harmony that is a common sound in modern jazz. It’s not too hard to get under the fingers either but ensure you learn the shape first.

The first example is almost exactly as Janek Gwizdala practices this idea. Get it under your fingers and go slowly. The descending sequence over the Cm chord consists solely of 1, b3 & 5 so the line makes simple but logical, consonant sense. Example two is the same idea but using an ascending sequence over the G7alt.. Example three really ramps up the rhythmic interest by using triplets in the ascending line.

Really focusing on a single idea like this can be very beneficial for beginning improvisers and it’s something I still practice occasionally now. Let me know how you get on!



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