10 Jan

Five Jazz Guitarists That Changed the World!

As Jazz emerged as a musical force in the early 20th century, few have left their mark on the in the guitar world as these following virtuosos.

Wes Montgomery with a Gibson L5 semi acoustic guitar1. Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery’s innovative style and virtuosity was the influence of multiple contemporary guitarists including Jimi Hendrix. A virtuoso among virtuoso, Montgomery’s command of the instrument has not been matched. His most notable technique was the use of octaves.

Although his recordings with Riverside records are considered his most “pure” works, he obtained commercial success with his later adoption of string accompaniment. Montgomery’s influence is widespread, as his tone is considered standard amongst guitarists.

2. Django Reinhardt

The legendary Romanian has inspired countless guitarists. Despite a debilitating accident, which left his hand permanently injured, Django persevered to bring unmatched innovation to the instrument with his unique gypsy style. Performing with renowned jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong, Django will forever be known as one of the most prolific artists ever to pick up a guitar.

3. Pat Metheny

Incorporating tones from rock, Pat Metheny sonic palate is among the most versatile of all guitarists. He was one of the first jazz guitarists to utilize the Roland synthesizer, although only accessing a small number of the sounds contained in the unit. Metheny was greatly influenced by Wes Montgomery in the early years but cites many surprising inspirations, which affected his style, many coming from non-jazz acts such as The Beatles and James Taylor.

Joe Pass from New Jersey4. Joe Pass

A master of the walking bassline as well as a wizard of chord inversions, Joe pass redefined the instrument in his era. Pass cultivated a heavily refined styling of guitar tone, partly attributed to his abandonment of the guitar pick in favor of fingerstyle playing, which provided higher harmonic expression. Pass began his training when he was 14 on a $17 guitar, and overcame a battle of drug addiction to emerge as one of the major figures in the genre. Great contemporary artists such as George Benson use the Ibanez Joe Pass model guitar to this day.

5. Charlie Christian

The first major star of electric guitar, Charlie Christian stands a pioneer among pioneers. The Oklahoma City son broke new ground with his creative solo style which highlighted the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument, a precursor to solo electric guitarists of every genre. He is highly regarded as a significant influence on the development of the bebop genre.

Although many guitarists have enriched the history of the jazz genre, the above five virtuosos have proven themselves as timeless figures that have permanently left their mark on not only the jazz world but popular music in general!

“Alan Baylock has achieved a goal that many artists aspire to, but often fail to reach: he has developed his own distinct sound as a composer. His writing is fresh, and is imbued with a great sense of spirit and fun.”
– Gordon Goodwin (Grammy & Emmy award winning composer/bandleader)

Profile Pic Alan

“Baylock goes beyond the pale and creates moods and textures which challenge a big band to be on their best behavior. I have the highest regard for his writing.” – David Liebman