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HomeLJS PodcastSpice Up Your Jazz Ballad Playing with Side Step 2-5's

Spice Up Your Jazz Ballad Playing with Side Step 2-5’s

Welcome to episode 236 of the LJS Podcast where today I show you a simple technique that will help you take your jazz ballad playing to the next level. One of the challenges of playing ballads is the slow tempo and chords that seem to last forever. Sidestep 2-5’s will help you add more harmonic movement and have you sounding like a pro.

Listen to episode 236

Ballads can be some of the more difficult jazz standards to solo over top of because they’re typically played at fairly slow tempos and there’s usually a lot of space in between each chord. 

And now that may seem like a bit of a luxury for those who struggle with playing over up-tempos but believe me when I say that soloing over top of slow tempos on ballads can be just as difficult if not more difficult than playing on uptempos. 

So in today’s episode, I’m going to be giving you a cool little technique called side step 2-5’s that can actually help you fill in more of that space, create more harmonic movement and therefore, give you more options and more creativity in your jazz ballad playing.

In this episode:

1. Side Step #1: 2-5 replacing the V

2. Side Step #2: 2-5 replacing the vi

Important Links

1. LJS Inner Circle Membership (Access to ear training course)
2. Free Guide to learn standards by ear: Learn Jazz Standards the Smart Way

3. LJS 59: 5 Tips for Playing Jazz Ballads Like an Expert

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. I didn’t have any expectations concerning that title, but the more I was astonished. The author did a great job. I spent a few minutes reading and checking the facts. Everything is very clear and understandable. I like posts that fill in your knowledge gaps. This one is of the sort.

  2. These forms of writings include narrative essays, descriptive essays, expository essays, and persuasive essays., on the other hand, is an essay-writing service that covers a wide range of topics. These four main categories encompass all other types of essays.

  3. I have a different(and maybe easier/lesson confusing?) way of looking at it. I’m seeing it as a chromatic descending bassline.

    Bbm7-A7-AbMaj7. And whenever you have a V7 chord, you can always add its relative ii-7.

  4. I have basically the same question as Len Bates.

    If I play sax, I guess that the piano player or guitar player as to do the same side stepping that I do in my solo ? If he does not, will my lines still sound OK, since after sounding « outside », they resolve nicely ?

  5. Side-step 2-5 sounds beautiful. Question: is this mostly for piano or guitar alone without bass accompaniment? Or can this work with a horn accompanied by a rhythm section without conflicting with the written changes?

    Len Bates


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