#1
The sound of jazz has always appealed to me, though I never really listened to jazz except for the one Miles Davis album I own.

Where do I start with playing jazz on guitar? What are some of the easiest jazz songs for people who are already fund of quite a bit of technical abilities of guitar?
#2
Ima just list off some I enjoy and you can explore at your own volition

Them There Eyes
Buddy Bolden's Blues
Minor Swing
Take Five
Autumn Leaves
If I Didn't Care
Giant Steps (huehuehue)
Minor Swing
It Don't Mean A Thing
You're The Top
I Got Rhythm

some of these are fairly basic rhythms, some not so much. Suggesting Giant Steps is mostly a joke but learning the chord progression and the theory behind the changes is, imo, absolutely essential. Get your rhythm strong before you obsess over soloing, as I've met many a jazz guitarist who can solo well enough but has no ear for chord changes and how to work with the chords themselves.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Jun 23, 2015,
#3
I agree on the rhythm guitar point. There's a lot to learn in jazz chords and rhythms and you probably shouldn't start improvising before you know your way around the changes. Out of the aforementioned list, autumn leaves is my all time favorite jazz track. It's the first I learned and analyzed. You probably should start learning the basic ii-V-I progressions and chord substitutions commonly used with it, and start looking up chord scale theory. Jets threads are helpful, as well as justinguitar lessons.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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#4
Thanks for the shout out, there's 10 of em!

Start learning simple tunes and chord scale theory and as much harmonic knowledge as possible.

A guitarist who can't do chords well isn't.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#5
Take Kurt Rosenwinkel's advice and learn/memorize as many standards as you can. The best way to learn jazz is to learn the songs because each standard has something useful within it, a certain chord change etc. and you'll be learning these things within a musical context. Start with old standards and be sure to listen to a version with vocals in addition to any instrumental version - most of the standards were songs and it's important to get the melody. The better players that I know would learn the lyrics as well.
#6
Check out a series of books and audio on jazz by a guy named Jamie Aebersold - the stuff is fantastic for jazz beginners. I'm not a huge jazz fan (even though I'm a Berklee guy!), but I use the Real Book (kind of the jazz song "bible") to teach all kinds of jazz concepts to my students - I just personally apply all of it to more of a metal/fusion style in my own playing. Also, before anything, you need to absolutely be comfortable finding notes quickly on the fretboard (if you're not already). That's a biggie. And one more thing: learn the major scale all over the neck; the fingerings are movable, and you'll be using this one scale all the time - it's sort of the "master scale" for getting into modes, melodic minor, chord/scale theory, etc. Hope this helps.
#7
^Abersold is good for those just starting out but it falls off real quick, and I get the impression OP can play rock guitar pretty well.

The most beneficial thing you can do is shift your way of thinking to a jazzier way, and begin absorbing the tenets of the style. Listen to a ton of it and listen to how they solo and play rhythm, and begin learning simple standards. Autumn Leaves for days
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#8
Quote by GuitarFoundry
I just personally apply all of it to more of a metal/fusion style in my own playing.

That's one of my main reasons why I wanted to play jazz. I ultimately want to make "complex" rock songs and get some very good grip on melody improvising. I always improvise good untill I try doing something that I haven't done before. It just doesn't sound very well.

For everyone: thanks a lot! I will start as soon as I can.
#9
I generally always give the same advice.......
First, realize that "jazz guitar" is a very big tent. There are so many styles and so many ways of playing that your first need to find out what you want to do. Immerse yourself in the genre. Listen to lots of jazz of all types....Big band, small ensembles, solo guitar, standards, Latin, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, "Free" jazz, Fusion...There's more....

Get a feel for what turns you on and seek out lessons or instruction in that.

As far as playing there is rhythm "comping", single-note lines when playing with a group, solo guitar (usually chord-melody)... Electric, acoustic, nylon-string.......

Most would recommend a solid background in basic theory....Scales, chord construction (including the extended and altered chords and all the inversions), the cycle of fifths.

And my personal advice....There is a tendency for jazz guys to get really wound up in the theoretical aspects of the form and to loose track of the musical aspects. So you get lads who come out of music school with the ability to play the right arpeggio for each chord and have perfect time and a chord encyclopedia.....And they sound like they are playing exercises.
Remember, "if it ain't got that swing...."

As Barney Kessel said once...Speaking of these overly-technical types, "These people are having some kind of musical experience, but it's not a jazz experience."
#10
I do agree with everyone else in this thread, the best way to start is to learn simple standards, then progress to harder standards, then you can move into original compositions by more contemporary musicians who tend to have a ton of advanced harmonic language.

Where do I start with playing jazz on guitar? What are some of the easiest jazz songs for people who are already fund of quite a bit of technical abilities of guitar?


Firstly i'd like to say that your technical abilities are no-longer the main point here, jazz can be very simple in regards to technique, it can also be among the hardest things ever played. It depends on who you choose to study and what direction within jazz you want to dig deeper in later on. When it comes to learning jazz you have a lot more to pay attention to, like learning the language, analyzing it and understanding the theory behind it and being able to express yourself as directly as possible.

As Jet said, study your chord scales. If you learn the chord scales derived from the major scale, melodic minor scale, harmonic minor scale and the diminished scales you will be pretty much set. (There are of course other things, like harmonic major, but these will give you a good start to understanding most things you will encounter in jazz). Then start learning from the musicians you love/explore within the world of jazz. Transcribe solos, comping figures, voice leading etc and learn how the concepts work so you can use the same concepts for different situations and use them to come up with your own thing.

In regards to guitarists, i would suggest you start out looking at players like Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt etc. Just to get a feel for how the masters played. Now these guys are far from the most complex players, but they are far from the most simple as well, they are known as masters for a reason. If you ever wish to dive head first into jazz guitar, send me a PM and i can give you quite an extensive list on guitar players, pianists, bass players and horn players to check out.

But yeah, that is the essence of it.

1. Find tunes you like.
2. Find versions of tunes you like.
3. Start learning those versions. (Learn both solos, comping, basslines and the melody)
4. Learn the concepts behind what they are playing.
5. Internalize it into your own playing, using the concepts in new situations and make it your own)
6. Repeat until you are good at jazz, or any style really.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#11
^This. Learn how to solo in a harmonically clear way and comp. Learn jazz standards. That's the whole genre.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#12
I think it is also important to point out that you should be doing A LOT of listening, especially to jazz guitarists since that is what you play, but you can learn a lot from listening to any instrument. Listen to how their playing is different from rock players, the rhythms, note choices, direction of their solos, comping, etc.


Of course just listening isn't going to get you far, but it is important to get a feel for the style. Many of the old jazz greats learned by listening to and emulating their heroes. I believe it was Wes Montgomery who started off by learning every Charlie Christian recording note for note, and that was all he could play when he was beginning. But he quickly developed his own style from that and went on to become one of the most influential jazz guitarists of all time.
#13
One thing you can do quite straight-forwardly, without requiring a lot of knowledge, is listening to how jazz players phrase melodic lines. Notice where they start and stop. Notice the silence in between. These ideas are transferable quite quickly, and phrasing can be practised easily, even against static harmony, or just a click track.

Personally, I learned virtually all the theory in about 4 x 1 hour lessons. (But I had a great teacher, Shaun Baxter). I have spent the next 20 years + making it musical and second nature.

So I too blend rock, metal and jazz together, like GuitarFoundry. It's great fun and keeps my brain and hands ticking over. But I play the standards also, and spend a load of time playing on acoustic guitar (like a lead guitar) ... I love the dynamics of it.

If you're interested, here's a track I wrote that I recorded with a clarinet player, Michel Martineau
, winner of the Montreal International Jazz festival way back. Weird combination, but it seem to work. We had fun, anyway :-)

https://soundcloud.com/jerry-kramskoy-1/cool-jazz-by-day-ice-by-night

cheers, Jerry
#14
Quote by liampje
The sound of jazz has always appealed to me, though I never really listened to jazz except for the one Miles Davis album I own.

Where do I start with playing jazz on guitar? What are some of the easiest jazz songs for people who are already fund of quite a bit of technical abilities of guitar?


Have you thought about studying it online? I'd recommend Jimmy Bruno

Best,

Sean
#15
Okay guys, I've made a start with Autumn Leaves.
I chose this version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEMCeymW1Ow

The chords are |Gmin7| C7| F7| Bmaj7| E7b5| A7| Dmin7| And the key is D minor, I think the time sig is 2/4 but most sheets say 4/4.

The chords here are in essence a cycle of fifths.
iv-vii-III-VII-II-V-i

You can see the II-V-i typical progression that is one of the first things I read about jazz. Also the E7b5 was also one of the first things I read about jazz, it's a very common jazz chord. I can see why. The standard E7 contains a very dissonant interval. The augmented fifth (between the third and the dominant seventh). The E and the B in a regular E7 are not discordant at all. Because it's a perfect 5th. Lowering the fifth half a step, produces another augumented fifth, making 2 very discordant intervals that both want to get resolved. So I guess that's why the E7b5 is a common jazz chord.

The A7 is used because in the natural minor scale, there isn't a leading tone, there is a flattened leading tone that does not create as much tension. The A7 can either be looked at as a chord from the harmonic minor scale or as a chord borrowed from the parallel major scale. I think harmonic minor is more right because the harmonic minor scale has more similarities to the minor scale than major does.

Is this what you guys mean by harmonically understanding jazz? Or must I dig deeper? I have no idea how it works that the melody supports these chords, I haven't had that covered in my theory book yet.
Last edited by liampje at Jun 24, 2015,
#16
Quote by liampje


The chords are |Gmin7| C7| F7| Bmaj7| E7b5| A7| Dmin7| And the key is D minor, I think the time sig is 2/4 but most sheets say 4/4.


No, the progression for Autumn Leaves is a major ii-V-I-IV followed by a minor ii-V-I in the relative minor key. Yes, the tune is in Dm in the case of this recording. But the progression should be:

Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 Bbmaj7 Em7b5 A7 Dm7.

the chords here are in essence a cycle of fifths.
iv-vii-III-VII-II-V-i


Nope. It is ii-V-I-IV-vii-III-vi. But when dealing with 251's we often look at where they are heading (the I) so it is far easier to say that it is a ii-V-I-IV in F major followed by a ii-V-I in D minor.


You can see the II-V-i typical progression that is one of the first things I read about jazz. Also the E7b5 was also one of the first things I read about jazz, it's a very common jazz chord. I can see why. The standard E7 contains a very dissonant interval. The augmented fifth (between the third and the dominant seventh). The E and the B in a regular E7 are not discordant at all. Because it's a perfect 5th. Lowering the fifth half a step, produces another augumented fifth, making 2 very discordant intervals that both want to get resolved. So I guess that's why the E7b5 is a common jazz chord.


That chord you've said is a E7b5 in the progression is a minor 7th flat 5, m7b5. Not a dominant chord.

Is this what you guys mean by harmonically understanding jazz? Or must I dig deeper? I have no idea how it works that the melody supports these chords, I haven't had that covered in my theory book yet.


Well, yes and no. When we say harmonically understand jazz we mean learn to understand where and why the chords are there, if they do not fit into the diatonic harmony. The A7 is a good example that you mentioned, A7 doesn't diatonically exist in this key. But it is used because of the leading tone that the the C# creates going into the D minor chord, it creates tension and resolves it.

Later on you will discover chords that seems all out of place if you don't understand the harmonic language of jazz. For example playing Dm7-Db7-Cmaj7. Db7 is a G7 in disguise, sort of. The point being that you need to make sure you understand how the chords work in this style, otherwise you will have a hard time implementing the vocabulary and concepts you've learned from studying tunes into other tunes you know.

Regarding the melody supporting the chords. Look at all the chord changes and what note the melody is playing when a chord change happens. The melody is all thirds! On the Gm7 the melody holds out on the note Bb, on the Fmaj7 the melody holds out on the note A. Many standards work this way, using the thirds as guide tones for the melody.

I would say you have to dig deeper and preferably get a teacher or someone who knows this stuff already to help you, because much of your post indicate that you don't know the basic building blocks well enough to truly dive heads on into jazz and get the most out of it. What material are you using in trying to learn the theory in regards to jazz? There are many good resources, but equally many bad ones.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Last edited by Sickz at Jun 24, 2015,
#17
Quote by Sickz

I would say you have to dig deeper and preferably get a teacher or someone who knows this stuff already to help you, because much of your post indicate that you don't know the basic building blocks well enough to truly dive heads on into jazz and get the most out of it. What material are you using in trying to learn the theory in regards to jazz? There are many good resources, but equally many bad ones.


I'm rigth now rushing through (I actually do understand what I read) two basic theory books ''The AB guide to music theory'' part 1 and 2. After that I'm heading into Barrie Nettles' ''Harmony 1''. And I guess working my way up to ''harmony 4''. From there I'll have to look for something new, but I'm pretty sure that ''from there'' won't be within 2 years, so I'll worry about that later.
#18
"i want to play jazz. no i don't listen to jazz"

listen to jazz

if you're actually technically proficient, there isn't an "easy" or "intro" level. you just listen and apply. is it fast? then slow it down. it's that simple. get a fake book and listen to jazz until you understand it, then until you hate it, and then until you like it again.
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#19
Well, seeing as Berklee Harmony 1-4 takes about 60 weeks, it probably will be within two years if you keep cruising through the Berklee books.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#20
Quote by Jet Penguin
Well, seeing as Berklee Harmony 1-4 takes about 60 weeks, it probably will be within two years if you keep cruising through the Berklee books.

Weeks isn't exactly the kind of accurate description. How much hours of studying go into those 60 weeks?
#21
Quote by Sickz

Later on you will discover chords that seems all out of place if you don't understand the harmonic language of jazz.


A thorough understanding of voice leading helps tremendously with understanding the harmonies in jazz tunes. All of harmony is about getting from one place to another, and it's essential to understand how the individual notes in those harmonies move.
#22
^This. All harmony is a result of melodic lines. Your ears do not work vertically; only your brain does.

OP,

3 hours of class a week, however long it takes you to do the homework, for 4 15-week semesters.

Listen to Sickz's long post, and learn the song in Gm, that's the key 90% of us play it in.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#23
Yeah, not many people are going to want to play it with you in Dm. Gm is the most common, and sometimes Em. It is also a very easy song to transpose to other keys, so it would be good to learn it in a few keys but Gm and Em are more common.