At first glance, playing a jazz piano solo on Miles Davis’ “So What” seems like it would be very easy to do. After all, there are only 2 chords!
And yes, as soon as you learn to use a D Dorian mode (white notes) over the Dm7 and an Eb Dorian over the Ebm7 (a little trickier), you can easily improvise as much as you want. It’s really that easy to get started, and I’ve taught 7 year olds how to do it.
But there’s a catch. Since the Dm7 chord is played for 24 measures in each chorus, it’s also very easy to get lost when you’re soloing. I know, because it’s happened to me many times!
Here’s a simple little trick you can use to keep your place while soloing on “So What.” Since it’s easier to show you how to play it on the piano than to describe it, I’ve made a short video to demonstrate the technique. As you’ll see, it’s so simple that you can use it immediately, and it makes a big difference. Just do this and you may never get lost while playing “So What” again!
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