“Just the Two of Us”
“Just the Two of Us” is one of the all time great tunes. Today we’re going to do a quick lesson on a few different tools to use when improvising over this chord progression.
There are a bunch of chords in this progression, and while they are all 7 chords and jazz chords, do not be afraid!
We can get through this tune and play solos that sound great with just 5 notes. The first example I’m going to give you is by just playing the f minor pentatonic scale over the whole thing.
Now there is nothing wrong with this… A large part of Grover Washington’s solo on the original recording was just f minor pentatonic. If you’re playing with a good sound, in tune and with solid rhythm, you can get a lot of mileage with just the pentatonic scale.
It works, but it’s like having a coloring book, but only one crayon.
So let’s add another color shall we? If we add the flat 5th to the minor pentatonic scale we get the blues scale of course
Now I feel like we still need some more crayons, so here’s another quick shortcut.
Start by playing your f harmonic minor scale. This can work over the whole chord progression. But you’re really going to want to listen carefully to what you’re playing. Use your ear and try to be melodic. What I mean is, find the notes that sound resolved for ending phrases and avoid just running a scale up and down.
Now the ideal situation is that when we know the chord progression, we can outline each chord while knowing what scales and arpeggios work over them.
This is more advanced and requires a fair amount of guided practice. While you can get away with a few shortcuts on a lot of tunes, if you really want a full box of crayons you need to put in some more work and practice time.
The BetterSax Studio
In the BetterSax Studio for January of 2022, we are working on this very tune. Our members are learning to improve their rhythm, sound, and overall improvisation skills. By the end of the month, our goal is for students to be able to play the melody from memory and nail the chord changes. Every month there’s a new unit on a new tune with new lessons and assignments.
So if you’d like to dive a bit deeper into Just the Two of Us or any of the other tunes we’ve studied, be sure to sign up for the 7-day free trial of the BetterSax Studio.
When you sign up for the studio, you will also retroactively gain access to every previous lesson in the studio. So if you sign up after January, you will still be able to access this lesson and many others.
I hope this helps you play better solos over “Just the 2 of Us.” Now be sure to check out “5 Ways of Improvising Over Basic Chords + Pentatonic Scale Trick” for an even more in depth tutorial into playing over another great Bill Withers tune.