Jazz guitar has evolved a lot over the years, beginning as mainly a rhythm instrument meant to accompany singers and lead instruments, to having more of a lead role, and to eventually becoming the leading instrument in many jazz groups.
Here are some great Jazz guitarists that have made a big impact in jazz:
Charlie Christian was one of the earliest adopters of the electric guitar and also one of the first jazz guitarists. He helped move the guitar from being a mostly rhythm instrument in jazz to having more of a lead role. His solos were innovative and played a vital role in developing the bebop guitar language. He influenced the future generations of jazz guitarists to come.
Here he is with the Benny Goodman Orchestra: https://youtu.be/Q8oGSOB012g
Wes Montgomery started playing guitar in his 20s after hearing a record of Charlie Christian playing. His signature sound and warm tone consisted of using his thumb instead of a pick and soloing using octaves and chords. He also was amazing at his chord melody playing (playing the chords and melody of the song together).
Here he is using his famous octave playing on the song Polkadots and Moonbeams: https://youtu.be/gMuWWfKUQ6c
George Benson is a guitarist and singer who has played in various genres including jazz, funk, and R&B. He evolved from starting out as a straight ahead jazz guitarist to a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with a decades long career enveloping many genres. He is also a winner of multiple Grammys and he still tours to this day. The question is, “Is he a guitarist who sings, or a singer who plays guitar?” Here he is playing on the jazz standard Billie’s Bounce: https://youtu.be/7dMMR9uuKzA
Written by Gustavo Correa
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