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Major Seventh Chord Blues


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Thelonious Monk's blues "Misterioso" is unusual since Monk substitutes Major seventh chords at places in the blues sequence (like the beginning) where the sound of a dominant seventh chord is nearly universally expected. Despite delaying the introduction of the dominant sound for as long as possible, Misterioso still sounds like a well-formed blues.

I know several other jazz pianist that sometimes play major seventh chords in their blues, but it is unusual.

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Well, "Misterioso" is one of my all-time favorite themes. Just wonderful! But it's *not* a Parker blues. While the theme does contain the major seventh of the I chord, Monk plays his solo as a very regular blues tune, with little or no substitutions:


Bb7 / Eb7 / Bb7 / Bb7 /

Eb7 / Eb7 (F7) / Bb7 / Bb7 /

Cm7 / F7 / Bb7 / F7 /


Almost archaic! The improvised solo states the dominant seventh quality very clearly on the Bb, Eb and F chords. So it's one of those cases where the written theme has a few quirks, but the solos follow a very classic structure. Plus, Monks employs a lot of his trademark whole-tone runs on most of the those chords, giving his solo a very angular approach. He also hints at the theme a few times.


I love Monk's tunes to death, but playing them it's a challenge. I mean, even if you've mastered the chords, what the hell do you play after themes like those..? They are complete statements - perfectly balanced 'narrations'. It's very easy to spoil them with a less than excellent solo! :)

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