Jazz is such a wonderful genre of guitar playing! Warm, sweet improvisational skills abound! Here are the many of the best!



Pat Metheny (1954-)

One of the most influential jazz guitarist or the last 30 years. Metheny's approach to composing and playing the guitar is unique.

Strengths : great sound, virtuosity, use of guitar-synth, jazz composition and arrangements (for the "Pat Metheny Group" and other projects.)



Vic Juris (1953-)

A great, modern and sensitive guitar improviser. He's been part of David Liebman's group for almost 20 years.

Strengths : Accompaniment, voicings, rubato-like lines, creative approach to anything he touches!



John Scofield (1951-)

One of the most distinctive voice in the jazz guitar field ever. Scofield's harsh jazz-rock sound is instantly recognizable.

Strengths : unique "harsh" sound, never-hear-before improvised lines, outstanding articulation, composition, groove/funk playing.



Pat Martino (1944-)

An instigator of the "modern sound" in jazz guitar. Martino combines technical prowess and beautiful, post-bop jazz music.

Strengths : great time feel, lyricism, virtuosity, amazing "machine-gun" like lines (that never get boring!), melodic inventiveness.



George Benson (1943-)

Benson is the perfect blend between a heavy bop guitarist and a soul-jazz singer. He's been entertaining crowds for decades!

Strengths : soul singing, groove, lots of chops!, charisma, great simultaneous scat-singing while improvising on the guitar.



Lenny Breau (1941-1984)

One of the greatest Canadian guitarist, Lenny Breau was a true master of harmony on the guitar. Sadly, he's not very well known.

Strengths : chords and chord melody style of playing, solo performances, harmonics, improvisations, flamenco and classical chops (fingerstyle).



Grant Green (1935-1979)

Great underestimated jazz guitarist. Well known for his soul and jazz albums on Blue Note.

Strengths : Great feel, bluesiness, outstanding use of the bebop vocabulary, funkiness (later in his life).



Ed Bickert (1932-)

Great Canadian Jazz Guitarist. Unprecedented mastery and taste on the guitar. You have to hear him to believe it…

Strengths : harmony, improvised lines, comping with "pick and fingers"



Jim Hall (1930-)

Probably the most influential of all the jazz guitar greats. His minimalistic approach resonates with everyone… and had an impact on today's big names (Sco, Metheny, Frisell et al.)

Strengths : highly individual voice and style, less-is-more approach and the use of space, impressive in all settings (duo to big band), ultra modern yet traditional notes and rhythms choices.



Joe Pass (1929-1994)

One of the greatest jazz guitar greats! Widely recognized as THE solo jazz guitarist of his time.

Strengths : solo recitals (!), harmonic concept (chords and counterpoint), walking bass lines, chord melody arrangements, bebop improvisation.



Jimmy Raney (1927-1995)

A rather underrated jazz guitar master. Raney is amongst my favorite for his great ideas and smooth yet interesting phrasing.

Strengths : Clear melodic ideas, phrasing and displacements, nice countours and creativity within the harmonic boundaries.



Wes Montgomery (1923-1968)

One of my personal favorites of all time! Wes is respected and admired by guitarists of many styles throughout the world.

Strengths : Melodic inventiveness, soulfulness, deep groove, the use of octaves, personal sound (plucking strictly with the right-hand thumb).



Herb Ellis (1921-2010)

A great, sensitive swinging bebop guitarist, Herb played in the most significant guitar-piano-bass trio of all times. (with the great Oscar Peterson).

Strengths : bebop improvisations, swinging hard(!), comping.



Tal Farlow (1921-1998)

One of the great pioneers of bebop guitar, Tal had a unique approach and sound to playing.

Strengths : Ultra-fast lines, unusual chord voicings, chord melody, artificial harmonics to play entire melodies.



Charlie Christian (1916-1942)

The father of jazz lines on the guitar : he played genuine bebop (imitating the horns). Also the first established jazz guitarist to use amplification.

Strengths : "Horn-like" chromatic lines, flowing melodic improvisations, bluesy, rhythmic repetition and motif development.



Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)

The greatest gypsy-jazz guitarist of all time. He is the most renowned European jazz legend in history! His band was the first established jazz ensemble using only string instruments.

Strengths : Impeccable melodic lines on acoustic guitar, virtuosity (with only two fingers!), lyricism, "poum tchak" style of comping.

borrowed from www.jazzguitarlessons.net

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

DIxon Nacey May 5, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Great insiteful articles on the jazz greats. Well done!


admin May 5, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Glad you enjoyed it Dixon!


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