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#1
What do you think the advantage of our instrument is in the Jazz field? It does not have the chordal abilities of a piano. You can't breathe into it like a horn, giving it that vocal quality, it doesn't provide a solid foundation like a bass, so what is the specific purpose of the guitar in Jazz? If theres already a saxophone playing melody, and a piano playing chords in other words, what do you think it is that is the guitars strong point or purpose?

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#2
Jazz guitarists are beastly. they are so perfect, i love their sound, their playing, i mean, jazz is such an awesome genre. smooth, relaxing, lots of skills, and its real easy to listen to.

jazz guitarists don't need the spotlight like metal guitarists playing a solo.
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#3
Simple: A piano, saxaphone, or any instrument will never be able to achieve the tone of a guitar, the difference is sound quality, plus guitars can virtually solo for a long they want without stopping, as opposed to horns who need to breathe.
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#4
We comp and fill in where we're needed, occasionally solo, but I must admit that I've never felt like its all that important
#5
It's not as important as those instruments you listed, but it can do the piano's job. And it has more 'voice' than a piano.

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#6
Quote by Doodleface
Simple: A piano, saxaphone, or any instrument will never be able to achieve the tone of a guitar, the difference is sound quality, plus guitars can virtually solo for a long they want without stopping, as opposed to horns who need to breathe.



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#7
Quote by affinity_strat
What do you think the advantage of our instrument is in the Jazz field? It does not have the chordal abilities of a piano. You can't breathe into it like a horn, giving it that vocal quality, it doesn't provide a solid foundation like a bass, so what is the specific purpose of the guitar in Jazz? If theres already a saxophone playing melody, and a piano playing chords in other words, what do you think it is that is the guitars strong point or purpose?


Well...

Quote by affinity_strat
It does not have the chordal abilities of a piano.


No, but nor does a piano have the chordal abilities of a guitar.

Quote by affinity_strat
You can't breathe into it like a horn, giving it that vocal quality


You don't need to breathe into a guitar to give it a vocal quality. You can still bend/slide/use harmonics, etc...

Quote by affinity_strat
it doesn't provide a solid foundation like a bass


Sure it does, if you're a good player.

Quote by affinity_strat
If theres already a saxophone playing melody, and a piano playing chords in other words, what do you think it is that is the guitars strong point or purpose?


I don't know, could be doubling the sax melody, could be reinforcing the rhythm, could be doing something completely different. I don't see why you'd appoint a role to an instrument. They all play music. Which one does what really doesn't matter as long as it's handled creatively and skillfully.
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#8
To my thinking, the guitar combines the some of the polyphonic capability of a piano, with some of the pitch/tone/timbre control of a wind instrument.


How you use this is up to you.
#9
Quote by Doodleface
plus guitars can virtually solo for a long they want without stopping, as opposed to horns who need to breathe.


Circular breathing?
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#10
Unfortunately guitarists tend to just that and usually have awful phrasing because of it.
#11
Jazz guitarists are pretty cool actually. I went to this jazz performance yesterday and it was bomb. The guitar playing was good and the drums were too.
#12
Quote by This_Kidd
Circular breathing?

beat me to it. some of the kids in this highschool band i used to be in could do it. I never understood it though.

Anyway, guitar has its own unique properties like any other instrument. The differences are what makes it great, imo.
#13
Quote by Doodleface
plus guitars can virtually solo for a long they want without stopping, as opposed to horns who need to breathe.


Breathing is actually a very important aspect of soloing with brass and woodwind instruments.

In terms of phrasing, it comes much more naturally to players of these instruments because, as with talking, they must breath after playing their instrument.

That's why a lot of guitarists listen to great musicians who play saxophone, trumpet, and other such instruments so that they may gain a better understanding of phrasing while soloing.
#15
Well I did of course mean aside from 'guitar jazz'...
I didn't mean to come off as disliking of jazz guitar or anything. Jazz guitar and guitar jazz conversely are pretty much the peak of guitar music side by side with the classical guitar. Nothing does it for me like when a guitar doubles a melody with a sax player. The guitar does have a big role in more contemporary jazz though.

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#16
I think Resiliance pretty much said it. Guitar in jazz has a hell of a lot of diversity - in fact, it's one of the few instruments that has parts throughout entire compostions, unlike your soloists, and yet can come out of the background wherever it's needed. Guitarists can put incredible vocal expressions into their playing without having to have the lungs of a bear, can achieve great harmonic depth (sure, you can play ten notes at a time on the piano, but how often is it necessary?), have tremendous diversity of tone and can ground the rhythm with bass notes when that's needed, too.

Like any instrument, it takes a good player to get the most out of a guitar, but in the right hands it can be fucking phenomenal.
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#17
I think the definitive answer is;because it sounds like a guitar. That's it. Nothing else sounds like a guitar. Just like nothing sounds like a piano, trumpet, saxaphone, bagpipe or susaphone.
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#18
I don't like your way of thinking, you can voice a million different chords on guitar, you can have a powerful lead tone like a sax or a trumpet, and you can support yourself extremely well as a player, providing your own bass (as good as any piano player can). Guitar is a great instrument and you're only limited by your approach to it.

Atleast that's the way I like to think about it, especially after having just seen Pat Matheny and can safely say that he proved you wrong on all counts.
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#19
Quote by Jackolas
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Allan Holdsworth.

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That's quite ironic, considering he himself said he doesn't even like the guitar much as an instrument and his entire sound is due to trying to get as close as he could to John Coltrane.

Still remains a phenomenal player and doesn't discredit his mentioning in this thread in any way, mind you.
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#20
Quote by meh!
I think the definitive answer is;because it sounds like a guitar. That's it. Nothing else sounds like a guitar. Just like nothing sounds like a piano, trumpet, saxaphone, bagpipe or susaphone.


I like this answer.
#21
It's nice to hear everyone's opinions on the matter, but why do some people seem to have taken offense by my question? Of course the guitar does not have the abilities of any of the instruments I mentioned, and neither do any of them have the abilities of the guitar. Of course all instruments, to some extent, have a role or purpose within different contexts and situations. How often do you hear a jazz combo where the drummer is playing a melody, and a saxophonist beating his horn to keep time? Believe me, I've heard of Pat Metheney and Alan Holdsworth, and my question didn't really apply to guitar oriented Jazz, but has anyone noticed that most great jazz guitarists' biggest influences are not guitarists themselves? Let me revoice my question and make it slightly more diplomatic: What is specific element of the guitar that you think makes it shine in jazz music, and who do you think is the best example of what you're talking about? I kind of mean in a situation where the guitarist isn't the star, but go ahead and say whatever you will...

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#22
In response to the more diplomatic phrasing of your question, the one feature of jazz guitar which shines out for me is how the diversity of possible tones and effects can give it qualities from soft and lilting vocal sounds (see John Aberchrombie - seldom have I heard such subtle, beautiful playing) to harsh shredding (John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola and the rest of the seventies fusion crowd) and everything in between. Rarely are other instruments employed in such a manner, and if they are it is usually (in my experience) keyboards - which don't have quite the versatility of phrasing that guitars do.

I urge everyone to check out the player I mentioned above - John Aberchrombie - if they don't already know him. The way he glides through his playing doesn't even feel close to the reality that he's playing a finely wired piece of attractive wood. It's something else altogether; the closest approximation I can come to is a really delicate flute solo, with the vocal, breath-like quality and softness he plays with.
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"His a cant."
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#23
The thing about the guitar in jazz is that it's not an essential instrument at all. Think about it: you can have a damn good combo with just a piano, a couple of horns, drums, and a bass. The guitar is mostly there to provide tonal coloring, in my opinion. That's not to say it's not incredibly useful in jazz; it most certainly is. It's just that a piano can handle everything a guitar can and more. The guitar has much more tonal variation than a piano, and it has more than horns do. That's its only real strength in jazz. It's the awful truth, but outside of rock and metal, the guitar isn't all that important.
#24
Quote by Holy Katana
The thing about the guitar in jazz is that it's not an essential instrument at all. Think about it: you can have a damn good combo with just a piano, a couple of horns, drums, and a bass. The guitar is mostly there to provide tonal coloring, in my opinion. That's not to say it's not incredibly useful in jazz; it most certainly is. It's just that a piano can handle everything a guitar can and more. The guitar has much more tonal variation than a piano, and it has more than horns do. That's its only real strength in jazz. It's the awful truth, but outside of rock and metal, the guitar isn't all that important.


While this is true, I think it's something that's been diminishing lately. A lot of modern jazz trios and quartets I see have a guitarist these days. Guitar is quite important in modern jazz, it would lead me to believe.
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#25
Like any instrument, it really depends on how it's used. Several groundbreaking fusion albums would sound very different were it not for guitar, and the same idea applies to major solo jazz guitarists like Scofield, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern, John McLaughlin etc. whose projects are distinguished at least in part by their lead guitar playing. That's not to say that the sound couldn't be replicated, but the idea is that the way those particular people play that particular instrument is the force behind that music. One could equally argue that, for example, horns weren't a vital instrument in rock music, and they would be right - but a band like Cake, for instance, attains a new and distinctive dimension with Vince DiFiore's trumpet playing.

I think the fact that you can put any two instruments together and you've got yourself a band means this argument is quite a shallow one unless dealing with very specific pigeonhole genres. Also, we forget that guitar has been an instrument in jazz music since the thirties, even the twenties - Django Reinhardt, for instance, or Charlie Christian becoming a fixture of the Benny Goodman group. And jazz is technically derived from bluegrass music, in which guitar was an important element - so it was really just the swing and big band eras which phased the instrument out of popular jazz, because in such harmonically dense music the guitar has little function that isn't served by another instrument.
"Is it an ambulance? Is he Philip Larkin? So much power in so few words."
~The Observer

"A transcendant terrestris, a timeless behemoth, trapped like Sisyphus in the cyclical burden of his own genius."
~The Sun

"His a cant."
~The Independent
#26
Quote by mud
jazz is technically derived from bluegrass music, in which guitar was an important element - so it was really just the swing and big band eras which phased the instrument out of popular jazz, because in such harmonically dense music the guitar has little function that isn't served by another instrument.


Derived from bluegrass? I've never heard that before, as far as I knew it started in new orleans and I didn't know there was much bluegrass there?
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#27
Quote by meh!
Derived from bluegrass? I've never heard that before, as far as I knew it started in new orleans and I didn't know there was much bluegrass there?


I think he might have meant blues.
#28
Well most of the guitar you hear in really early jazz is banjo, so I think that is what he meant by bluegrass.
#29
Woah, easy tiger.

I did actually mean blues. Technically, the evolution of the two coincided - blues was a lovechild of American country & folk and traditional African beats, and it originated in southern America in the 1800s when slaves fused the two together. Bluegrass was an offshoot of blues and country, and could be argued to be a pregenitor to jazz music - the two have certainly cross-fertilized over the course of the last century - though really, they are largely considered seperate entities.
"Is it an ambulance? Is he Philip Larkin? So much power in so few words."
~The Observer

"A transcendant terrestris, a timeless behemoth, trapped like Sisyphus in the cyclical burden of his own genius."
~The Sun

"His a cant."
~The Independent
#30
I know a guy who has a personal philosophy that every jazz song is a blues song at heart (and this guy is a very respected and renown jazz player/instructor/director here in Oregon and even in the nation). When you really think about it, it makes sense, hehe.
#31
I heard jazz described once as "blues falling down the stairs". I titter'd.
"Is it an ambulance? Is he Philip Larkin? So much power in so few words."
~The Observer

"A transcendant terrestris, a timeless behemoth, trapped like Sisyphus in the cyclical burden of his own genius."
~The Sun

"His a cant."
~The Independent
#33
Quote by Resiliance
While this is true, I think it's something that's been diminishing lately. A lot of modern jazz trios and quartets I see have a guitarist these days. Guitar is quite important in modern jazz, it would lead me to believe.


That is very true. What led me to ask this question in the first place is that I get so much work in the realm of contemporary and modern jazz. That and there also seems to be a bit of a bias against guitarists educationally speaking. I just found out that in the state I am studying in, guitar majors can't get certified in music education like a wind or whatever instrument major.

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#34
That's probably something to do with the fact that, despite the ever-growing prominence of guitar in jazz, it's still the quintessential instrument of rock music. There's also the fact that every man and his gran plays it. It's probably still seen as a 'doss' instrument be the musical elite - look at how many guitarists have actually graduated a prestigous music college like Berklee in relation to other instrumentalists (and the proportion of serious educated guitarists to those who are self-taught or less serious players), and how far they stand out above other guitarists.
"Is it an ambulance? Is he Philip Larkin? So much power in so few words."
~The Observer

"A transcendant terrestris, a timeless behemoth, trapped like Sisyphus in the cyclical burden of his own genius."
~The Sun

"His a cant."
~The Independent
#35
Quote by mud
Woah, easy tiger.

I did actually mean blues. Technically, the evolution of the two coincided - blues was a lovechild of American country & folk and traditional African beats, and it originated in southern America in the 1800s when slaves fused the two together. Bluegrass was an offshoot of blues and country, and could be argued to be a pregenitor to jazz music - the two have certainly cross-fertilized over the course of the last century - though really, they are largely considered seperate entities.


I was genuinely just curious My dad researches this kind of thing and I'd never heard it. Always wanting to learn and all that, lol.
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#36
I think the guitar is just really adaptable, there are a lot of things you can do with articulation (slides, bends, etc) and you can still comp. Also, guitars can play the same note in the same octave in several places, which can be cool.
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#37
Quote by original_idiot
I think the guitar is just really adaptable, there are a lot of things you can do with articulation (slides, bends, etc) and you can still comp. Also, guitars can play the same note in the same octave in several places, which can be cool.

+1.
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#38
Quote by mud
Woah, easy tiger.

I did actually mean blues. Technically, the evolution of the two coincided - blues was a lovechild of American country & folk and traditional African beats, and it originated in southern America in the 1800s when slaves fused the two together. Bluegrass was an offshoot of blues and country, and could be argued to be a pregenitor to jazz music - the two have certainly cross-fertilized over the course of the last century - though really, they are largely considered seperate entities.

#1
your over simplifying the creation of jazz.
and
#2
country wasnt even around when bluegrass was formed.
bluesgrasses main predecessor is celtic music brought over by scotch/irish who lived in the appalachian valley.
#39
Before amplification it simply wasn't possible for the guitar to play much of a role beyond the Freddie Green type rhythm hits and even then you probably wouldn't hear it most of the time. So much of it may be historical, early on if you were into Jazz and you wanted to learn an instrument you'd pick a horn and this sort of tradition doesn't go away really quickly.

I think the great advantage of the guitar in Jazz is that guitarists play it. At the end of the day it is much more important who is playing the instrument than what the instrument is. With the guitar so much more popular now many people are drawn to the guitar before they figure out what they are going to do with it. Then they discover Jazz and are not about to learn how to play a saxophone.
#40
I think the great advantage of the guitar in Jazz is that guitarists play it. At the end of the day it is much more important who is playing the instrument than what the instrument is. With the guitar so much more popular now many people are drawn to the guitar before they figure out what they are going to do with it. Then they discover Jazz and are not about to learn how to play a saxophone.


Hehe, that is kind of what happened to me. I discovered Jazz and have been totally into it since. I would love to had picked up sax or trumpet before, or maybe upright bass (which is still a possibility on learning if they weren't thousands of dollars), but I'm already pretty good at guitar so I'm sticking with that. Plus, even as cool as all those other instruments are, there are things that I love about guitar and wouldn't want to give up .

Though If I were to pick up a second instrument, it would have to be piano, cause that is almost required for anyone wanting to study in music.
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