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I have been untangling Goodbye Porkpie Hat, the original on Mingus Ah Um. The solo section has different chords to the head on this version. I have listened to the sax solo, and I am making notes, but I am interested in the function of the chords in this section. I know the head is a mass of substitutions and extensions, but the chords for the solos become super blusey. I can play something fairly reasonable over them, but I think if I had a better understanding of the substitutions going on, I could do something better. I know there are a ton of interesting things you can do, but I want to do something simple and clear for now.


I have the chords as follows with my notes:

Ebm(major7) Ab-7

Ebm(major7) Ab-7

Ebm(major7) Ab-7

Seem to be i and iv in Eb Harmonic Minor which works nicely along with minor pentatonic.

Ebm(maj7) A7#9

A is the tritone of Eb and adds alterations to Eb, making it an E♭ lydian Dominant. However, E♭ altered sounds better, or just sticking to Eb minor pentatonic or with a 6th. So some dorian and melodic minor ideas work.

Abm7 Abm6

I am playing A♭ Dorian, which sounds nice or just pentatonic.

C♭7 Bb7

This is [subV7/V7 V7] of Ebm. Again, playing something simple sounds really nice. Let the chords do the work!

Ebm7 - Ab7

This is I and IV in Eb Dorian.

C-7b5 F7#9 Gb-7 C♭-7 Bb7

C-7b5 can be seen as the previous bar's Ab7 but as a substitute 9th chord (A♭9). It can also been seen as the V of F7 and the Gb-7 as a tritone of the C.

We then go to B-7 with the Gb- as the iii in B minor and the Bb7 as a sub for A7, the VII in minor?

We end on Ebm7 Ab7 Ebm7 Ab7.


OK that is a mess! My head hurts....I am trying to work backwards from the end goal chords but think I got lost :)

Can anyone help and tell me if I am going in the right direction here with my analysis?

  • 1
    ...What exactly are you asking us? I love reading this kind of stuff, but what's the question? – user45266 Apr 30 at 6:07
  • Sorry I was not clear, basically is my assessment of the chords substitutions correct and does anyone think my scale solo suggetsions are valid? :) – Babaluma Apr 30 at 14:55
  • I've edited for a number of things. In a couple of places, I couldn't tell if you meant to play (example) A Dorian over A♭m7 A♭m6, so I edited in the flat sign there and a couple places. If you were in fact going for the outside sound of A♮ Dorian, edit those parts back. – user45266 May 1 at 5:22
  • No you are right! Thanks for that!! – Babaluma May 1 at 16:06
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"the head is a mass of substitutions and extensions", this is true but it's still blues. Your question "am I going in the right direction" is a little vague and might get closed. If you want to learn more about subs and extensions, cycle extensions, try How to Create Jazz Chord Progressions by Chuck Marohnic. Once you really understand how the cycle extensions work you will automatically do contraction in your head, getting rid of the extra stuff and seeing the underlying pattern.

  • Thanks looks like a great book! – Babaluma Apr 30 at 14:57
  • I often teach my student the art of "cycle contraction" as I call it, in other words simplification. You will find the basic changes in the expected place in GPPH and many other tunes. – ggcg Apr 30 at 15:09
  • thanks I will try and base my further analysis on this. – Babaluma May 1 at 16:05

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