Calibrating your internal metronome

A few years ago I was in a class taught by Wil Blades at the Jazz School in Berkeley, CA and Wil told a story about a bass player who got on a gig with Idris Muhammad. The bass player was struggling with the rhythms on a tune and kept missing the first beat of the measures. After several takes, Idris turned to the guy and said something like "Go on down to the music store and buy yourself a box of 1!"

Few of us like to admit that we sometimes have trouble counting to 4 (or other numbers depending on the meter). I was admitting this to myself recently while rehearsing an arrangement I came up with for "Straight, No Chaser" (Thelonious Monk). It goes like this:

Using bebop scales and four-note groupings over minor two-five-one progressions

I've been experimenting with an approach to improvising over minor two-five-one progressions.

Common approaches

There are a handful of common approaches to this progression. Which I'll list here when I have time…

Bebop Scales

Bebop scales are eight (as opposed to seven) note scales which place chord-tones on the beat. See Wikipedia for background.

Bebop scale approach to minor two-five cadences
I was searching for something that would feel familiar to me. I like the symmetry of the eight-note bebop scales that place chord tones on the downbeats. I also like repetitive patterns when I'm practicing new things.

Which of the bebop scales would work well over minor two-fives? Let's look at the chords and scales I've selected in F minor. These are just some of the possibile scales we could apply. They are the ones I am working with. (Let me know what you think about them!)


A possible scale choice is the dominant bebop scale constructed from the note that is a major third below (or a minor sixth above) the root of our ii-7b5 chord. For G, this would be the Eb dominant bebop scale. Playing Eb mixolydian but beginning on it's third gives us a scale that fits over G-7b5.

Gm7b5 chord and scale

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