Jazz Guitar Comping – Passing Chords
In order to create motion and stronger resolution patterns in a comp, chords from outside the basic progression of a tune are used to form connections between the written chords. These passing chords are, by definition, not held or extended, as in using alternate chord changes—they are used in “passing.” When listening to an experienced comper, you will hear passing chords being used frequently.
In the above example, Gb7 (the tritone substitution for C7) is a passing chord between C-7 and F7. The momentary tension created by the passing chord against the underlying chord, and the movement of each note by a half step, results in a strong resolution to F7.
This use of substitute Dominants is one of the most common passing chord devices. This can be done more than once in a progression:
Parallel chromatic chords are often used in passing, in this case, Minor7s:
In the previous example, the C#-7 passing chord creates movement in what would otherwise be a static point in the progression. This also works ascending: