Solar’s a tune that pops up on a lot of jazz gigs, so it’s a good idea to have a few ways of getting around the chords.
It’s a 12 bar tune which can be viewed as a set of descending ii V i’s.
Bars 1 & 2 set out the key of the tune ( C minor ), the next 4 bars (bars 3 to 6) are a ii V I in the key of F major, G mi7 (ii of F) C7 (V of F) and F ma7 (I of F).
Following this (bars 7 to 9 ), we have a 3 bar ii V I in Eb, F mi7 (ii in Eb) to Bb7( V of Eb) to Eb ma7 (I of Eb). The next 2 bars (bars 10 & 11) are a quick ii V I in Db major, Eb mi7 (ii in Db), Ab7 (V in Db) and Db ma7( I in Db). Finally ( bar 12 ),
We have a turnaround back to C minor,D mi7b5 (ii of C minor) and G7b9 (V of C minor) which neatly sets us up for bar 1…
There’s your basic outline of the tune…notice how the I chords turn into the ii chords in bars 6-7 ( F Major/ I chord- F minor/ ii chord) and bars 9-10 (Eb ma7/I chord-Eb mi7/ ii chord).
The next few columns will be looking at different ways of tackling a chorus, my focus in this column is to highlight the descending nature of the tunes’s ii V I’s, which we have plenty of to keep you on your toes ( four ii V I’s in a 12 bar tune!!)
The opening chord is sometimes played as C miMa7, but I’ve changed it to a C mi9 ( a bit of an extension and a chord which is less likely to trip soloists up…
C miMa7 is a harmonic representation of C melodic minor or harmonic minor, the turnaround (the melody in the turnaround especially) leans more towards harmonic minor, if you want to play C miMa7 just raise the Bb om the low E string a semi-tone).
The entire progression is voice lead and there are lots of cases of identical chord movement, try to hear how the 3rds and 7ths of each chord resolve into each other. I’ve ended the a low voicing of C mi7, this will be the starting point of the next column, see if you can write your own set of inversions for Solar.