Take the A Train: Chord Substitutions

There is no rule that requires you to use the chords in the chart as is. It is best to see a chart as a general guideline that captures the functional harmonic gist of a tune. Here are three chord substitution ideas for expanding the harmonic possibilites of the basic chart:
Turnarounds || Secondary Dominants || Neighbor Chord Expansion


Turnarounds

The last two bars of the A section are the perfect place to insert a turnaround:

Original Chart...

Take the A Train chord substitution

Substitution...

Take the A Train chord substitution

Experiment. Revoice the chords. Try out different left hand patterns. Play ideas, not notes. Find your own voice. Make each idea your own!

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Secondary Dominants

The last bar of the second A section is a great place to insert a secondary dominant ii7-V7 to set up the FM7 chord in the bridge.

Original Chart...

Take the A Train chord substitution

Substitution...

Take the A Train chord substitution

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Neighbor Chord Expansion

The 4 bars of FM7 chord in the bridge are a perfect candidate for expansion. A common way to "stretch" a major 7 chord is to play a "ii7" neighbor chord over the 5 of the original chord. Don't try to analyze it (thus the quesstion mark). See and hear the pattern and enjoy it!

Original Chart...

Take the A Train chord substitution

Substitution...

Take the A Train chord substitution

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