Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar

April 20, 2007

Nicolai Foss

I recently blogged on boxsets on jazz guitar. It turns out that I overlooked Progressions: 100 Years of Jazz Guitar.

This boxset stands out among jazz guitar boxsets for three reasons: First, it features only one cut by any performer. In contrast, other boxsets or collections of jazz guitar may allocate more tracks to Lang, Reinhardt, Christian etc. than to the more unknown players. Second, its reach in terms of time period covered is larger than any other jazz guitar collection, beginning in 1906 and ending in 1998 (not quite 100 hundred years, but who cares…). Third, it has a booklet which at a whopping 146 pages is actually more than a booklet. In addition to the tracklistings, there is an endorsement/introduction by John Schofield, a learned and excellent overview of the (almost) 100 years of jazz guitar history covered by the collection, a section where guitarists pick their jazz guitar heroes and favorite albums and tracks (the most consistently picked album is Wes’ Smokin’ at the Half Note), and even half a dozen pages with analyses of select solo fragments.

The only minus, and it may be a huge one depending on your musical tastes, is that the jazz content in a number of the tracks is small or even negligible. I completely fail to see the jazz content in Hendrix, for example. Half of the tracks feature the major innovators from the period 1967 – 1998, so if your preferences are more towards Raney, Farlow, Hall, Burrell, Green, etc. and less to Ritenour, Bailey, Sharrock etc. then this may not be your favorite collection. Still, it provides an invaluable overview of the history of jazz guitar.

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