Jazz Guitar: The Primacy of the Melody

My band has this brand-new video:

It’s our version of the Beatles song “And I Love Her.” I’m getting so much positive feedback on the video that I’d like to share my thoughts about the arrangement that we did.

What’s great is that there is so much you can with the tune “And I Love Her”. Also, I like that it’s not really a “jazz” feel we use on our rendition, but the approach on guitar can be “jazz.” I feel that the great part about practicing and learning jazz guitar is that it’s all about taking a song and developing endless variations and riffs on it.

Here are some basic points that I have gleaned from practicing jazz guitar over the last 40 years:
I’ve found that for me the most important point is to study the melody. You’d like to work out numerous ways to play any melody:
1-first simply. ( and hopefully: sing)
2- then in different registers
3- then with embellishments and variations

From experience I have found that these are the most important steps in developing your improvisation. I think that John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, and Pat Metheny would all agree with me! (Just LISTEN to how each of these guys develop a tune!)

In this video version, you can notice that in the first verse I play the melody in a lower octave, then in the next verse I bring it up an octave, with some variation. Next, for the bridge, I play the bridge melody with chords.

I feel that taking that approach led to a situation where the song naturally “builds” because of these changes. When practicing I worked out each of these parts in both registers, and with and without chords. It’s a fun and interesting way to practice. And, in my view, the best.

All the best, Joe

PS- hopefully more in later blogs about jazz guitar…music theory, scales and all that. But melody comes first for me.