#1
Hey guys, I've been taking jazz guitar classes lately from local teachers, but I feel that my progress has been very slow, and they are not well-recognized musicians. Their expertise isn't jazz at all- when they teach guitar, they mostly focus on modern music and classical music.

I wanted some advice on where to start. I've been playing guitar for some years now but I've never tried to play jazz until some months ago, and I'm not used to improvise with typical jazz rhythms and chord changes (constant modulation). I'm completely lost and I'm not sure where to start studying, this is very different from what I've learned before.

What books should I read? What lessons should I take? Youtube videos? PDFs? What about song transcription? I'm having a really hard time recognizing altered chords. Keep in mind that I'm a complete beginner in this genre, but I'm really willing to advance. Many people have told me in other forums that the best thing you can do is to get a teacher, but I'm from a small town in Mexico and I can't travel anywhere to get quality classes, I got a job, family and expenses.

Thanks in advance, I would be really happy to read your replies!
Fender Jaguar -> Polytune -> Diamond Compressor -> Timmy -> OCD -> Big Muff -> Line 6 M9 -> Sonomatic Cheddar -> Spark boost -> Fender BDRI
#2
get a real/fake book, look up a bunch of renditions on youtube, hear jazz, feel jazz, relate it to the notation, figure out what the notation means, and through that you can play.

some of the most important things for a foundation in jazz guitar are:

1) knowing your chords (which can be learned through theory books, websites, whatever works); don't just learn your shapes, but the actual components and intervals of every chord and its inversions, alterations, &c.

2) knowing what jazz is supposed to sound like in its different genres and through different styles of play - this just comes from actually listening and internalizing the music. it seems common sense, but you'd be shocked how many people claim to be jazz guitar gurus just cause they learned some scale shapes and weird chord voicings and never heard them utilized in context

3) listening, and remembering your role. this sort of goes along with knowing what jazz is, but more specifically, the guitar usually isn't pronounced at all in an ensemble, and it's important to know when you need to step into the limelight and back out. some people might go in thinking that you're supposed to throw in scale runs and crazy fills and be the star - but you'll be fired very, very quickly from that gig. less is often more

4) learn how to swing! if you don't have rhythm, you don't have jazz

if you can get it down to being able to sightread, or at the very least having quick access to a large amount of standards, you're gonna be in good shape. also, play in ensembles. don't sit in your bedroom just playing along to old standards once you get the basics down! go out there and actually participate in your local jazz scene, make connections, and find people who will show you further intricacies and afford you opportunities to grow in your craft

jazz, unlike most genres that utilize electric guitar, isn't a one-man show - it's all about the group dynamic, feeling the swing, locking into the groove, and having a good time
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#3
"How to improvise" by Hal Crook is excellent.

"Jazz Theory Resources" by Burt Ligon is excellent.

Everything Hail says is spot on.

Learn "ii-V (-I)"'s ... lots of books on these (jazz licks). They are the bread and butter for a lot of jazz. Be aware that their prevalence or absence depends a lot on which era/flavour of Jazz you listen to/play.

When I first started on Jazz (from hard rock/metal prior) I began with simple modal tunes (like "Recordame - Joe Henderson) and simple chord progression tunes (like Autumn Leaves) ... though I was fascinated by Charlie Parker and transcribed loads of his solos using decent software to slow it down.

Also realise you don't have to chase every chord ... since all music one way or another involves dissonance and consonance, it's very common to have a chord progression of several chords that may well be changing key quickly, but to totally ignore that, and start playing at the beginning of the progression in the key that it ends in ... with of course the resulting dissonance which finally becomes clear at the end. There's a gazillion tricks like this.

Be warned ... trying to master jazz can become very addictive. :-)

I've been mixing up jazz concepts with other styles for many many years now, and I understand the theory very well, yet I stil feel I'm scratching the surface of possibilities ... there's always more to learn and discover (not theory, but application).

Good luck, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 21, 2015,
#4
^haha, we actually share a lot of similarities I came from a rock/metal background as well, and the first thing I learned was a modal piece (So What) and the second was, surprise surprise, Autumn Leaves

And OP, you should probably start practicing your improvisation. I started with basic blues shuffle improv, and worked my way up to jazz. Learn a lot of stuff by ear.

And about that, you should really learn to listen to music. Can you recognize a ii-V-I cadence by ear? Or tell apart a maj7 and a dom7 chord without context? These are just the basics, but learning to listen is a priceless skill, that is especially useful in jazz. If your bass player decides to change the key in the middle of your jam, how can you respond? By learning to spot a key change by ear. That's why you shouldn't practice in shapes and scales, instead you should trust your ears and let them guide you.
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#5
Quote by Kevätuhri
^haha, we actually share a lot of similarities I came from a rock/metal background as well, and the first thing I learned was a modal piece (So What) and the second was, surprise surprise, Autumn Leaves
All jazz beginners start with those two. It's The Law. (After "Blues in F", that is...)

Quote by Kevätuhri

And OP, you should probably start practicing your improvisation. I started with basic blues shuffle improv, and worked my way up to jazz. Learn a lot of stuff by ear.
Yes. Blues is a good way into jazz, it has a similar attitude to improvisation, but with much simpler material.
#6
The music that you play is most likely the music that you enjoy listening to. And probably the music you find easiest to play on guitar.

Take a step back, be true to yourself and ask the question why you want to learn jazz?

Do you listen to jazz?
Do you have any jazz albums?

When you listen to jazz music, do you genuinely enjoy what you're hearing? In the same way that you enjoy your other music?

The reason why you play a certain style of music is because you love that genre.

Do you love jazz? Don't kid yourself here.

Or do you just want to learn it because it's "hard". Therefore if you can play jazz it means you can impress others?
#8
Knowing Mulgrew, he would have told the guitarists to go home because none of them can comp, and that's the most important thing.
"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
#9
Sounds to me like he's talking to a group of saxophonists. Which leads me to think he may ask guitarists, "do you know any licks in Bb?"
#10
I love jazz, indeed (of course some subgenres more than others, I prefer cool jazz than fast bebop for example), but the complexity behind it has always been scary to me so I just listened to it without even trying to play it. I want to learn to enjoy myself playing some slow tunes and singing (think Chet Baker), my goals are not high, I don't want to be the next Bird (besides, that's a pretty daunting task lol)

Thanks for the advice guys, I'm going to check out those books and videos
Fender Jaguar -> Polytune -> Diamond Compressor -> Timmy -> OCD -> Big Muff -> Line 6 M9 -> Sonomatic Cheddar -> Spark boost -> Fender BDRI
#11
I'm working very specifically on chord-melody solo guitar. The reason for this is very simple....I'm pretty old, am just starting to fool seriously with this type of music, and have no opportunity whatever to play with other musicians.
So...Comping skills are pretty much moot, as are playing single-line arrangements and all that. Those elements are for playing in groups.
What I'm working on is solo guitar, mostly for my own amusement. I occasionally play for groups of friends.

Rather than a highly technical and theoretical approach to this sort of playing, I'm following Joe Pass' dictum..."Figure out the melody and find some chords that sound good."
At present, I have a suite of chords (some guys even call 'em "grips") that work well for what I'm doing. I will occasionally experiment.
However, at my age, I'm not going to try to force my fingers into fantastical reaches and shapes. I looked at a couple of Ted Greene arrangements and they are not for me.
I know Greene is supposed to be the big chord guru but my fingers just won't go there. (I listened to a few of his arrangements as well and didn't particularly care for them....)

At present, the guys I really like are Pass, Earl Klugh, Lenny Breau....Guys like that. In the "unobtainable goal" realm would perhaps be Martin Taylor. I do have a video lesson of Taylor's and I can occasionally steal a lick or two.
Last edited by Bikewer at Jul 21, 2015,
#12
^Greene is a little overkill, and obsessive to say the least.

Solo guitar is more or less the culmination of your comping and single-line ability, they all inform each other. You'd be surprised at how much each point of the triangle helps develop the other.
"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
#13
I love jazz, indeed (of course some subgenres more than others, I prefer cool jazz than fast bebop)