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Reharmonisation of chord sequences (e.g. “Stella By Starlight”)

Reharmonisation of chord sequences (e.g. "Stella By Starlight")
I said pretty much at the beginning of the course that for a lot of jazz standards - the sort of things that are played in jam sessions - there isn’t really a definitive tune or a definitive set of chords. If you go to the resources like fake books, or real books, you’ll see they all differ slightly in what chords they say apply and how the tune goes even. That suggests it’s because people vary it - because when they play it they bring their own identity to it and they give it their own colour, their own feel. So it is, that when we’re playing standards, we can often reharmonise the chord sequence - change the chord sequence.
I’ll gave you a little example when we were looking at waltzes and we looked at “Someday My Prince Will Come”. It starts off with
When it goes back - repeats on that - I told you that I play
The B flat major7 is replaced by B7 flat5 and D7 sharp5 is replaced by E major7 sharp11. It’s better if the bass player goes with you, you get a nicer sound, but it’s amazing how if they don’t - if they just play over the standard sequence - it still works. It’s the old issue of tension and release. You get tension playing essentially over the wrong roots, but eventually the sequence resolves to the right roots.
Let me have a look at this wonderful tune we looked at in the last session “Stella By Starlight”.
I want to look at a reharmonisation that Keith Jarrett does of 6 bars in the middle. As you know, the standard tune goes like this.
and here
Now let’s have a listen to Jarrett’s changes.
So, you see, it works equally well - probably better. Jarrett plays a lot of standards and when he does it’s surprising how he makes little alterations to sometimes just one chord, sometimes a few chords, sometimes a whole section of chords and, usually, enhances the piece as a consequence. So - reharmonisation. In fact, let’s go on to the end of this piece and I’ll show you another reharmonisation that, kind of, dates from an earlier time - from the bop period. the middle
So what’s happening here is we’ve got II-Vs that are going down chromatically. If I go from bar 27, it goes That’s a kind of bop mechanism - of using cycles of fifths but, sort of, chromaticism as well. As I say, it’s better if the bass player goes with you, but it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m going to try and show you that by playing this with our Aebersold playalong and I’ll play the Jarrett changes and the alternative changes at the end and show you that, pretty much, it sounds OK.
The other thing I want to do is, in the last session we were looking very much at scales, what are the scales that go with all these altered chords? It’s quite a sweat to get them all in. In a sense, that’s what one’s aiming for eventually. But I’m more concerned with playing something which is strong melodically - a line which, in a sense, almost lives on its own. So I’m going to have a go at playing it now and I’m going to have a go at playing it with - I hope, if I do it correctly - with a stronger melodic line.
I’ve taken the Aebersold playalong a little bit faster - 20 per cent faster - because it’s more like the speed that people most play it at. If you do this and you find it too fast, then go back to the earlier version. I’m starting it just before chorus 2, because in chorus 3 it goes into 4, and I want to just play a couple of choruses for you of the tune with the Jarrett changes and the alternative changes at the end, and then a little bit of improvisation. So I might find it a little but difficult getting into this, since I’m starting this somewhere in the first chorus.

We look at the idea of reharmonising a chord sequence of a jazz standard and, as an example, consider Keith Jarrett’s reharmonisation of 6 bars in the middle of “Stella By Starlight” and a be-bop reharmonisation at the end.

You can download the chart for “Stella By Starlight (Jarrett Changes)” in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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