What lead me to reharmonize the I-IV-V chords of Happy Birthday? Teaching improvisation, of course! And Happy Birthday is lesson one in my book on strengthening your ear for improvisation. It’s called Jazz Ear Savvy.
I just published a video on my Youtube channel that demonstrates how the simple tune Happy Birthday can help you become a much better improvisor.
One of the exercises on the video is playing Happy birthday in D to some busy jazz changes. The point is to add complication to what you are hearing in oder to confirm how solid a simple tune like that is in your musical mind. The video also challenges you to play it other keys like Gb. No problem right?
Check out the video: youtu.be/CjWaxiz1Ulg
And here are the changes I created out of many possibilities: