I'm looking at the song "Edward Lee" by Harold Mabern, Jr. (as it's presented in The Real Easy Book in C) and I'm trying to understand how to apply scales approach to soloing over its chords. There are two chords that appear problematic.

The chord progression for part A is

| Em7 |  %  |   %   |   A7   |
| B7  | Em7 | Cmaj7 | B7 Em7 |

For part B:

| G7 | Cmaj7 |   E7  | Amaj7 |
| D7 | Gmaj7 | C7sus |   B7  |

The supplemental material page for this song suggests that all the major dominant chords in the song correspond to Mixolydian mode. However, B7 and E7 chords have G natural and C natural respectively in the melody over them, which are 6♭ and aren't in the Mixolydian scale.

So the question is: is simply adding the 6♭ to the Mixolydian scale for these two chords a reasonable approach here? I'm also interested why the 6♭ notes really seem to work well with the harmony in this song.

1 Answer 1


In such a functional progression it is not helpful to look at each chord in isolation, so you can't just say "I play mixolydian over each dominant seventh chord". The B7 chord is clearly the dominant in the key of E minor. The B mixolydian scale would be a reasonable choice if it resolved to E major. However, in E minor, the standard choice over B7 would be E harmonic minor (harmonic, because it includes the D#, which is the third of B7). In part B you have three successive V-I cadences. Over G7 you can indeed play G mixolydian (which has the same notes as C major), because it resolves to C (maj7). Over E7 you have several choices. You could anticipate the resolution to A major by playing E mixolydian. However, I would go for E harmonic minor, suggesting a resolution to A minor (the relative minor of C major, where we're coming from). Then the surprise effect of resolving to A major (instead of minor) is stronger. Over D7 I'd just play D mixolydian (it resolves to G major). Finally, you go back to E minor via C7 and B7. Over C7 you can add the Bb, which underlines the bluesy character, and over B7 you again play E (harmonic) minor.

Note that you always have choices, and the above is just a very basic way to get you through the changes.

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