Yes, kids, it's the Christmas tune leaning season. And what does the young, happy go lucky jazz guitarist need to do to get a piece of the potentially lucrative action? Why, he or she should polish up the Holiday Repertoire. There are several books out this year that feature nice arrangements for jazz guitar. Here are three:
Jazz Guitar Christmas, from Centerstream Publishing (the people who publish Bob Benedetto's book on Making an Archtop Guitar), is a new title. It features easy and intermediate one-page arrangements of a variety of traditional Christmas carols. A lot of these tunes are unkown to me (there's one about a "friendly beast"..??) but the arrangements are pretty good. The easy versions can be played by a student level player, and a pro jazz guitarist would have no trouble with with intermediate ones. Both standard notation and tablature are used. Plus there's a cool Kenny Burrell model Benedetto on the cover. How can you go wrong?
The prolific Howard Morgen is responsible for
Fingerstyle Jazz Images for Christmas from Mel Bay. This book has been around a while and should be a staple in your library. The arrangements vary in difficulty, and tablature is provided under the staff. The concept here is more classical-like, with moving lines within the chords and intricate right hand work needed. But the tunes sound fun and they can swing if you let them. You really need your reading hat on for some of these arrangements. Most of the X-mas classics are represented as well.
The Best Christmas Guitar Fake Book Ever may be a bold title, but this is a pretty great book. You could take only this book to the gig and be well covered. Even the most obscure request is probably within these pages. The tunes are in simple fake book form, with single line melody on a staff and chord names above. Sorry, shoppers, no tablature here. This is a comprehensive digest of all the holiday music you would ever need for a gig.
Christmas gigs can be easy and lucrative and it pays to be prepared. So start thinking now about what tunes to learn and get to practicing! If you're interested in purchasing any of these books, just stop by Sheetmusicplus.com or Zzounds.com and do a title search. Happy gigging!