Fast tempos, instrumental virtuosity, ear-bending improvisations, advanced harmonies, complex syncopation, altered chords, chord substitutions, asymmetrical phrasing and intricate melodies are all bebop rules of engagement.

In constructing these etudes, I’ve shared some of my favorite harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic techniques. For this lesson, let’s get modal with my take on the chord progression to the Freddie Hubbard classic, “Little Sunflower,” now named “Petite Tournesol.” This one is always a favorite at jam sessions of all levels and a progression that jazz players will frequently encounter.

This etude employs diatonic triads, but in an uncommon way; breaking up the shapes and rhythms to create “hills and valleys” in the melodic line. The secret to playing interesting solos on a modal progression is to imply harmony by using the diatonic triads of the key. There are lots of creative ways to develop melodies on these essential shapes, using them to create a more “horn-like” line. Also, in the second half, check out the “major triad” pairs to get into some extended harmony as well as the use of the “major triad hexatonic.”

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