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I call this lick the "altered triplet" because, well, it's a triplet, and because it is based on an Alt chord. I don't know whether it has a more formal name.

Whenever you see a dom7, you can use an altered triplet. Whenever you see a half dim leading into a dom7, you can use an altered triplet.

Play a quarter note triplet on the first beat of either chord. The triplet consists of the dom7's flat 9 and sharp 9. So, if the chord is C7 or Gm7b5-C7, you can play a triplet consisting of Db-Eb-Db. The next note after the triplet is usually an eighth note on the root of the dom7 followed by another eighth note.

It's easy enough to remember. Whatever the dom7 chord is, play a whole-tone triplet the begins with the note one-half step up from the root. Your ear will tell you what ought to come next.

It doesn't matter whether the rhythm section is playing an altered chord or any part of one. This triplet almost always works.

This lick is scattered throughout the melody of Donna Lee. I sometimes wonder whether they heard someone playing the lick during Indiana and decided to write a tune based on it.

This pattern also works well in ballads. But don't play a triplet. Omit the first note and play it as two eighth notes followed by the root and continue down the scale. Very pretty sound.
 

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Hey thanks Al, for another great tip! By the way, this altered triplet also works great in a ii-V7-I situation (play it on the V7 chord, of course).
 

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JL said:
Hey thanks Al, for another great tip! By the way, this altered triplet also works great in a ii-V7-I situation (play it on the V7 chord, of course).
The V7 is the dom7 to which I refer.
 

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Thanks Al.
Keep those little pearls coming....
 

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Al Stevens said:
The V7 is the dom7 to which I refer.
Right, I realize that. And my observation was probably redundant. I just wanted to point out that the triplet sounds good moving from the V7 to the I chord. I'm sure it works in other ways also.
 
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