Here are my harmonic and melodic goals:
- 1.) Eliminate "avoid notes" (i.e. non-harmonic tones) as an issue in my playing unless I intentionally insert them (for example, as passing tones).
- 2.) Make the “best” notes available. Those are notes that define the function of the chord (3rds and 7ths) and supply tension and color (9ths, 11ths, and 13ths and their alterations).
- 3.) Limit the total number of scales I have to deal with. I use four scales: major, melodic minor, pentatonic, and diminished.
It is important to first analyze the key and function of the chord in the tune you are improvising over. The following chart shows many of the basic chords - and their associated scales - appearing in jazz standards: