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Jazz guitar

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Jazz guitar

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Jazz guitar is the use of guitar in jazz music.

The guitar has a long and honorable history in jazz. Historically, the guitar played the same role in jazz as in country music, blues and other forms of folk music, as an instrument easy to acquire financially and easy (enough) to play for an individual performer.

As an instrument in an ensemble, however, the guitar had first to supplant the banjo as the standard "string tenor" rhythm instrument. Even as late as the early 30s such sophisticated orchestras as Duke Ellington's still used a banjo. In the late 30s, however, there were five important developments, or, more accurately, five important individuals:

  • Lonnie Johnson, a New Orleans born guitarist, who was the first to play single-string guitar solos. Although best known as a bluesman, Johnson played all forms of music. He had developed his single-string playing while working as a strolling musician in restaurants, accompanying himself as he sang. Although he never achieved great fame, he was a strong influence on the next three guitarists discussed here.
  • Eddie Lang, who hid his virtuoso guitar playing behind a good-time persona in his collaborations with jazz violinist Joe Venuti, the "Mound City Blue Blowers" and appearances with virtually every important white jazz organization in the 1920s, from Red Nichols and Bix Beiderbecke, to Paul Whiteman. He also collaborated with Lonnie Johnson.
  • Charlie Christian -- Also out of the southwest, from Texas, Christian showed up in the Benny Goodman Orchestra unexpected by anyone with a full-blown style of electric guitar soloing. In addition to his appearances with Goodman, Christian was a regular after-hours bebop player. The astonished critics of the time called it "single-string" playing because no big-band guitarist before Christian did it (although blues players played single-string obligattos). Now virtually all guitarists do it. Christian's career only lasted a few years and he died young, but his innovation changed the guitar forever.
  • Django Reinhardt, one-of-a-kind jazz guitarist, a Belgian Gypsy with the use of only two fingers on his left (fretting) hand due to a fire in a gypsy caravan. Reinhardt recorded rarely with a standard jazz group, and recorded most often with either solo or with the peculiar "Quintette du Hot Club de France" with violinist Stéphane Grappelli. Influential for technique, taste, harmonies, and melodies, with many followers and not a single successor.
  • Freddie Green -- In the Count Basie Orchestra out of Kansas City, Missouri, Green was a peerless rhythm guitarist, whose reliable pulse propelled the hardest swinging band in jazz. Green's ascendency pretty much ended the banjo era. Green rarely soloed, even in the modern era, but he remains the apotheosis of the rhythm guitar and the master of chorded accompaniment.

Other notable jazz guitarists

John Abercrombie
Howard Alden
George Barnes, claims to be earliest electric guitarist.
George Benson, although better known as a singer, his early work with Brother Jack MacDuff and other jazz artists set a new standard of technical achievement on the instrument in the late 1960s.
Kenny Burrell
Herb Ellis
John Etheridge
Tal Farlow
Bill Frisell, who has introduced strong elements of folk and bluegrass music into jazz. His distinctive style of playing is notable for his use of intervals rather than single lines.
Steve Giordano
Mick Goodrick, a respected guitarist whose former students include Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Benjamin Rodefer and Wolfgang Muthspiel.
Grant Green
Jim Hall
Allan Holdsworth
Stanley Jordan
Barney Kessel 1923-2004
Russell Malone
Pat Martino
Benjamin Rodefer Younger guitarist who has played with many of the new vanguard of jazz musicians.
John McLaughlin
Pat Metheny, latest in the long line of jazz musicians from Missouri, fearless collaborator, leader of his own highly successful band, the Pat Metheny Group with Lyle Mays on piano.
Wes Montgomery, master of the tasteful modern style. Wes was self-taught and used his right thumb rather than a plectrum (pick) to produce his unique sound.
Joe Pass, master of the solo guitar (that is, without any kind of backing band)
John Scofield
Floyd "Wonderful" Smith, a contemporary of Django Reinhardt, enjoyed wide recognition in the 1930s and continued to perform and into the 1960s. Smith inspired Charlie Christian, and was a major influence George Benson, among many others. His 1943 hit recording “Floyd’s Guitar Blues", with the Andy Kirk band, had a great impact on the popular perception of the guitar as a solo instrument.
Johnny Smith
Pete Smyser
Mike Stern
Andy Summers
Martin Taylor an early protege of Stéphane Grappelli who has taken the solo guitar art form of Joe Pass to new heights.
George Van Eps, who invented the 7-string guitar and coined the term "lap piano."

External links


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.