Friday, August 1, 2008

Rock Lovers Guide to Jazz (4): The Guitarists

This is the 4th in my series that tries to turn rock lovers on to the great tradition of jazz and where better to do it that in a celebration of the jazz guitar.

Yes, we have many of the masters of the intrument in rock, from Hendrix to Eddie Van Halen, Ritchie Blackmore to Robin Trower, but jazz is an equal (if not sometimes superior ?) source of innovation on the guitar

The father of jazz guitar is arguably the great gypsy jazz musician, Django Reinhardt. There's also the popular master of timing, George Benson and the atmospheric beauty of Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner and Bill Frissell. They make the guitar do things that even Hendrix never thought of, not wild of course, but they cunjor up a spirituality that rock does not often achieve.

What about Wes Montogemery and Grant Green, loose. groovy, equally as proficient as anything done by Jerry Garcia or Mark Knopler.

While many guitars are used the hollow bodied Epiphone guitar is the one most commonly assicated with jazz, an instrument that can 'swing' as well as the sax or trumpet, one probably made the most famous by George Benson

A hollow-bodied Epiphone guitar with violin-style "F" holes.

Here's my take on the Top Ten jazz guitarists ever.

1 Wes Montgomery
2 Django Reinhardt
3 Pat Metheny
4 John McLaughlin
5 George Benson
6 Bill Frissell
7 Grant Green
8 Bill Frisell
9 John Abercrombie
10 Ralph Towner

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