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HomeLJS PodcastLearn Jazz TheoryLJS 77: How to Navigate Major 1-6-2-5 Chord Progressions

LJS 77: How to Navigate Major 1-6-2-5 Chord Progressions

Welcome to episode 77 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about an important chord progression, the Major 1-6-2-5. This is a chord progression that shows up all of the time in jazz repertoire and you will want to learn how to navigate it. You’ll learn a helpful exercise and a few licks. Listen in!

Listen to episode 77

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Being familiar and knowing your I-vi-ii-V chord progressions is really important if you want to become a successful jazz improviser. This chord progression comes up time and time again in jazz repertoire.

A great example is rhythm changes tunes, such as Anthropology and Oleo. These songs have A sections that are essentially entirely I-vi-ii-V chord progressions.

In this episode, most of the examples are in Concert Bb.

What’s a I-vi-ii-V in Bb?


Note: Often times, jazz musicians will change the minor 6 chord into a dominant 7 chord.

Arpeggio exercises

Starting on the root of the I chord:

Starting on the 5th of the I chord:

Licks as heard in this episode

Long I-VI-ii-V Lick

Short I-VI-ii-V Lick

The best thing that you can do to further practice this chord progression is to learn jazz language it. Listen to some of your favorite jazz artists playing over this progression and learn some lines. The more you learn the more discoveries you will make.

Have anything to add to today’s show? Leave a comment below.

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. There's a correction to make on this page- the final chord of the arpeggio exercises should be F7 not G7. Thanks for another great lesson!


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