ii V I in C Major

ii V I is the single most common chord progression used in jazz, making it a must-know progression, and a great starting point for learning jazz.

While jazz players often use chord substitutions, this example is a straightforward ii V I progression in the key of C Major. The ii Chord wants to move forward to the V Chord, and the V Chord wants to resolve to the I (or the tonic).

You can think of a ii V I progression as Setup > Tension > Resolution.

Since D is the 2nd note in the C Major Scale, and Dmin7 is the 2nd chord in the key of C Major, when playing over the Dmin7 chord, we can play the same C Major Scale, but starting and ending with D. This is known as the D Dorian Mode

C Major Scale:
C major scale
D Dorian Mode:
D Dorian Mode