[Harp-L] 'Round Midnight! [Michael Polesky]

This is all by Michael Polesky: 
Sorry it took so long ;-).

I hope your appetite is still wet for one of the more perplexing tunes you'll ever need to play!
I am using the "Real Book" lead sheet.  If you have that then you can follow the exact chords I am referring to.
Some of the things I say will be obvious and I don't want you to think I am talking "down" to you.  Others may be very foreign to the terms you are used to so please don't feel like I am trying to confuse you ;-).  Feel free to answer this e-mail in great detail because then I will be able to translate some of my terms into your language and I can know what to skip.
I always try to give you a major or harmonic minor scale to use as well as the blues scale in the very end of the explanation.  However, I love keyboard harmony (I can barely touch a keyboard without breaking it -but still).  So, I do go deeply into the way the progressions work together using the classical I through VII designations of the chords.  I don't use the Nashville designations of making minor chords lower case - such as ii-V-I.  This is because the same progressions (I-VI-II-V or I-IV-V) work well both in major and minor.  I would love for you to think about both major and minor when you approach the progression.
Again, I am happy to try to explain anything I can in detail.  It takes me a while to write it all out, but I just LOVE this stuff.  Hopefully you can begin to learn more than just one tune from the explanations I give.  Do remember, that I know how funny some of my sentences sound - especially if the terminology is tough.  I practically speak a foreign language here and sometimes I go overboard as if I am worried that the "classical police" are monitoring our conversation.
One reason why I don't take myself to seriously is because there really are no wrong notes in jazz.  Sometimes the rhythm and conviction you use on a phrase mean more than the harmony and, besides, I use all 12 notes in pretty much anything I play.  When I offer you 3 approaches to a chord there are usually 5 more.  In general here I am trying to offer you a sort of "in the chords" approach rather than "outside".  There is a lot more that you can do and the harmony can be described in many other ways.  These are my less than humble thoughts ;-).
The first 2 measures are a I-VI-II-V (Ebm Cm7b5 Fm7b5 Bb7) resolving to the Ebmin7 in the beginning of measure 3.  A classic I-VI-II-V-I sequence (more common in the major rather than the minor) tends to hang around the tonic key - in this case Ebmin.  I prefer the harmonic minor over the other minor scales for jazz tunes and it fits well here.  However since it is in the tonic key for two measures in a row, the blues (minor) works great here.  Any time you can add a little blues in the mix it sounds good.  This means you will use the flat 5th (A) and the minor 7th (Db) in the mix. 
Measure 3 is Ebmin7 to Ab7.  This is a "straight II-V" progression.  In classical music this is called a cadence and a cadence resolves to a I chord in either major or minor.  In this case (very common in jazz) it is a "deceptive cadence" because, in stead of leading to some form of Db (i.e. II-V-I) it goes to another chord all together.  For deceptive cadences in Jazz I generally prefer to use the major scale of the expected tonic.  In this case Ebmin7 to Ab7 would be expected to resolve to Db major.  So I use the Db major scale here.  Since it is preceded by a regular cadence resolving to the Ebm7 you can definitely play the blues on that chord because it is a strong tonic chord.
Measure 4 is two II-V cadences in a row.  I use the A major scale over the first (Bm E7) and the Ab major scale over the next (Bbm Eb7).  It turns out that the Bbm Eb7 does lead to the expected Ab (minor) chord in a II-V-I cadence, but the half step motion that precedes it gives it the flavor of a deceptive cadence so I use the Ab major scale even though it resolves quite logically to Abmin in measure 5.  A lot of this is a matter of taste and interpretation.  You could use the Ab harmonic minor over the Bbm7 Eb7 as well, but I prefer the major.
Measure 5 is another straight II-V cadence of Abm7 to Db7 which should resolve to a Gb chord (major or minor) in measure 6.  In this case it is a deceptive cadence that resolves to Ebm7 as a "substitution" for Gb major.  Ebmin7 is the VI chord of Gb major and is the same notes as a Gb6.  Therefore it is a good substitution for Gb major and it keeps the same tonality.
Still, measure 6 is, in and of itself, another II-V deceptive cadence (Ebm7 Ab7) that should naturally resolve to some sort of Db.  In this case I play the notes in the Db major scale over it.  Still, since the tune itself has Eb minor as a tonic you also even have room for a little minor blues on the first two beats (Ebm7) if you want.  To go over that, I have now said you can play the notes for the Gb major scale, The Db major scale AND the Eb minor blues all over the first two beats of this measure.  So, I should qualify some.  For the Ab7 I usually use the notes in the Db major scale.  For the Ebm7 I pick one of the three options I mentioned above and "stress it".  Conviction can speak louder than pure harmony.  That's what the Blues and Jazz are all about ;-).
Now measures 7&8.  This is a classic VI-V cadence, which is most prevalent in the minor (B7 Bb7).  You will notice that on the 2nd ending, these chords are sped up and they land solidly on the I chord (Ebm).  I generally play this with the notes to the Eb harmonic minor scale.  It works well here, because the cadence leads back to the tonic.  This cadence is very common in minor blues instead of the II-V, IV-V or V-IV cadence you will find in regular blues.  It gives you a strong feel of the tonic key and it works well with the Eb minor blues as well.
Now for the bridge.  The first 2 bars of the bridge, which are repeated, are a II-V-I cadence in Bb.  Under most situations, I would tell you that either Bb major or Bb minor are required.  However, this particular tune seems to have an uncanny strength in its Eb minor tonality.  So, I tend to stick to Eb harmonic minor and even Eb minor blues here - especially over the Bb7 chord.  The best thing to compare this to is the B7 to Bb7 in measures 7 & 8 at the first ending.  If you look at the notes in a B7b9 chord and an F7b9 chord everything is the same but the bass note.  The B7b9 and the F7b9 are interchangeable in what they call the "tri-tone/half-step" substitution.  In this case they are dominant chords resolving to the V (Bb7) of the tonic, Eb minor. This is that infamous V of V ;-).  In the major, this change sounds very bright and noticeable and it changes the tonality a bit.  In the minor it is much more subtle and keeps the tonality in the tonic.  A good example of the V of V in the major is the Star Spangled Banner at the place where you go "the flag was still there".  I like to use that as my little memory jogger!
Once you are passed the first 4 measures of the bridge, true to Monk form, he doesn't resolve the Bb7 to an Ebmin, but instead ends up in a deceptive cadence leading to an Abm7.  Fortunately the Abm7 Db7 Gbmaj7 (II-V-I) is a very straight forward Gb major scale notes.
The next measure, measure 6 of the bridge (I know, you need GPS) is written as Cb7 to Bb7.  For jazz, I don't like to use Cb.  It seems like a waste of space for me, however, it does exist in classical and it is the right moniker for the minor 6th (B natural) of Eb minor.  If you count up I-VI from E or Eb in minor or major you get E/Eb (I) some sort of F (F/F#) as II some sort of G as three, etc. until you come to C at VI where B/Bb are the V chords.  So, Cb is more correct.  Still, this is the  same B7 to Bb7 we've seen earlier and as a VI-V cadence it goes well in the tonic or Eb harmonic minor notes.
It is a bit of a surprise that the next chord is an Eb7 as opposed to some sort of Eb minor chord.  It gives a neat little kick to the tonality.  The last two measures of the bridge are really the toughest of the tune for me.  They are really pretty close to the chords for Doxy and when I first look at them I would think that Eb regular blues would work great.  However, I seem to feel that the tonality is one of a V chord on the Eb7 rather than a I or tonic.  Dominant chords make a great tonic chord for regular blues and certain jazz tunes, but there are a lot of times that a dominant chord just doesn't sit still like a tonic (I chord).  This is one of those cases.  So, I play Ab major over the Eb7 chord and then Gb major over the Db7.  They just seem like moving dominants similar to the moving II-V sequences with Bm7 E7 Bbm7 Eb7 above.
The next measure sort of goes back to the top with a B7 to Bb7, VI-V to Eb minor so I use the Eb harmonica minor.  That should be all the chords!!


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