Q&A4: Chord Soloing
How to learn the style of Django Reinhardt and Tiny Grimes
I've been playing jazz for a couple of years now and I have a pretty decent grasp on the improvising. But I listen to a lot of traditional jazz before everyone played electric guitars. Django Reinhardt, Tiny Grimes and more recently players like Wes and Bucky Pizzarelli played great chord solos. I don't know where to go about learning the technique. Is it simpler than it seems? They play too fast for me to take the solos off the records so I don't know what chords they are playing. Is there a book out there or can you tell me a way to get started?
David, chord soloing is, as I'm sure you know, a lifelong study. The first thing you need to do is build up your vocabulary of chord voicings. There are several good books on the subject, one of which is the Steve Khan book reviewed on JGO. Start slowly. Maybe you could learn all the variations on Cma7 - A7 - Dmi7 - G7 and see if you can connect the topmost notes of the chords into some kind of melody. Or think of the melody first and fit the chords to it. When you find a chord melody pattern you like, practice it in as many keys as you can to get in under your fingers, then try to use it in a solo. One source for great voicings is the Joe Pass Guitar Styles book. That should be in every guitar player's library. Good luck.