Jazz guitar, when done right, is one of the truly beautiful sounds in modern music. With jazz improvisation, the sky is the limit, and you can't go wrong with the work of the following masters. Internalize the music, understand and feel the intense rhythm, and use the tablature to get these amazing jazz guitar lines under your fingers for use in your improvisations.
1. Wes Montgomery - Four On Six
Wes Montgomery was simply a wizard with the guitar in his hands and did things that have not been surpassed to this day. His playing of single notes, octaves, and chords combined with his unique style of playing with his thumb instead of a pick produced the warmest, most natural and swinging sound ever heard on the guitar in jazz. Four On Six is a Wes original based on the George Gershwin classic Summertime.
2. Pat Martino - Sunny
Jazz is the art of making the simple fantastic and the basic sublime. Sunny, Bobby Hebb's beautiful 1966 R&B hit, is transformed into a jazz masterpiece in the great Pat Martino's hands. The tablature delves into this amazing solo with some very detailed and in-depth analysis.
3. George Benson - Breezin'
A mind blowing soloist and great singer, as well, George Benson became a household name almost literally overnight with his 1976 version of Bobby Womack's instrumental Breezin'. The blues, simple riff-based melodic playing and George's great tone are all featured here over this wonderfully infectious vamp type tune.
4. Grant Green - Idle Moments
Grant was a lyrical, hard bop and blues-based stylist. He played his way and had a bright, brittle, singing tone that starred on many great Blue Note records of the 60's. Pianist Duke Pearson's languid minor blues Idle Moments is a perfect showcase for Grant's style, as many of his favorite licks and tricks are featured.
5. Tal Farlow - Seven Come Eleven
A great southern gentlemen and an amazing guitarist, known for his blazing speed, unique chord voicings (due to his enormous hands) and ability to harmonize and re-harmonize a melody in seemingly countless ways, Tal was the fastest gun in the west. Best of luck on this blistering solo from his version of the Benny Goodman/Charlie Christian classic, Seven Come Eleven.
6. Jim Hall - Licks and Tricks
A true original, Jim was a master of sound, subtlety, advanced musicianship, and really composing on the spot. Jim was equally adept at interpreting standard songs and composing wonderful and unique compositions of his own. The tablature here is a terrific insight into five "licks" in Jim's melodic style.
7. Pat Metheny - Third Wind
The "other" Pat on this list, Metheny is a world renown virtuoso of the highest caliber. A stylist in the truest sense of the word, Pat has his own extremely unique sound and style. This burning solo on an original samba of his comes with a video of him playing it. Take your time on this tab!
8. Django Reinhart - Gypsy Guitar
Creating a unique style of playing due to losing the use of the 3rd and 4th fingers of his right hand in a fire at a young age, Django was another true original. The ten examples tabbed out here provide a great starting point for playing and understanding his incredible music (tab starts on second page).
9. Bireli Lagrene - Mouvements
Bireli came to prominence as a precocious boy who could play exactly like Django Reinhart, and his first recordings are of him doing just that. As he grew as an artist in his own right, he began to use that virtuosity toward creating his own music. This video showcases the tablature and the backing track for this uptempo and modern sounding gypsy style jazz piece. To obtain the free tablature, follow the instructions in the video description on YouTube.
10. Joe Pass - Autumn Leaves
His first solo record was aptly titled Virtuoso, which featured Joe playing standard songs finger style on solo guitar, similar to the way a classical guitarist plays. He toured and performed solo for many years, and the tab on Autumn Leaves features his unique approach to jazz guitar.
11. Tuck Andress - Time After Time
Some consider Tuck a disciple of Joe Pass because he plays solo guitar and often plays jazz in his wonderful duo with his wife, the inimitable Patti Cathcart, but he took what Joe Pass started and took it a step further by incorporating modern harmony, slap and funk bass figures, and original composition to his repertoire. The tab here shows his simple and elegant re-harmonization of Cyndi Lauper's lovely Time After Time, Tuck and Patti's biggest hit.
12. Charlie Christian - Swing Licks
In many ways, Charlie created modern jazz guitar as we know it today as he was the first guitarist to plug in and feature the electric guitar as a lead or solo instrument in jazz. His recordings with Benny Goodman are essential listening for jazz guitar students. The tabs included here highlight many facets of his innovative style.
There are a few great online resources including Jazz Guitar Online, TrueFire, JazzGuitarLessons.net and YouTube for further research and study. Jazz is an intense and extremely complex style of music, which can be difficult to transcribe and study without the benefit of standard notation, but the twelve examples here are an excellent start.