Jazz Guitar Primer

March 3, 2010

Nicolai Foss

Is it just me, or are jazz guitarists routinely treated in a cursory and inaccurate manner in jazz encyclopedias? Leonard Feather, for a very long time the reigning king of jazz journalists, began this tradition by dissing Django Reinhardt in a rather silly manner. Remarks like “jazz guitar basically didn’t progress beyond Charlie Christian for more than 25 years after his death” are unfortunately rather standard in many books on jazz history. So, what do you give the rookie who wants an accurate primer on jazz guitar?

I think this internet piece by Dr. Matt Warnock may be it. It is fair, accurate and balanced. Of course, one can always disagree with his specific choices (e.g., I would have picked Tal Farlow or Jimmy Raney instead of Johnny Smith), but overall this is a good introduction.

2 Responses to “Jazz Guitar Primer”

  1. Mike Ducey Says:


    Very beautifully written set of articles that you included here in Jazz&Archtops and tremendously informative. Thank you as well to the writer Dr. Matt Warnock.

    I saw the comment that maybe Jimmy Raney or Tal Farlow may have been a preferred choices over Johnny Smith, but as mentioned in that segment Johnny Smith could read anything, his discography is vast and your choices are also very valid as the list of influential guitarists can fit a few more in its array. Mundell Lowe is an incredibly economical player.

    I just wrote an article on Joe Pass in http://jazzipedia.com. A few of the things I was able to write about is based on my own conversations with him.

    Definitely, keep me abreast of your updates to this terrific website. I want to make mention of you on my website as well, because it is top-notch work.

  2. Nicolai Foss Says:

    Wow, thx Mike. And thx for alerting me to Jazzipedia which I shall follow closely in the future. Best, N

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