- String School
- Instruments & Gear
- News & Reviews
- Featured Videos
Learn to play the 1920s and ’30s chord melody and rhythm guitar styles of Eddie Lang, Nick Lucas, Freddie Green, Carl Kress, and other early jazz greats. With chord melody solos to popular swing melodies, advanced rhythm guitar techniques, and acoustic jazz picking techniques.
Matt Munisteri is a guitarist, singer, and songwriter based in New York City. A freewheeling and virtuosic guitarist on both acoustic and electric guitar—in music both modern and old-fashioned—he credits the early jazz plectrists of the 1920s and ’30s with providing the foundation for his technique and musical direction. As one of a relatively small number of authoritative acoustic jazz guitarists playing swing and early jazz, Matt has recorded extensively and is a first-call guitarist when a “period” sound is sought for CDs, film scores, and commercials.
He has collaborated with many colleagues in his field on concerts and recordings, including Vince Giordano, Mark O’Connor, Andy Stein, Frank Vignola, Bucky Pizzarelli, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Catherine Russell, Julian Lage, Geoff Muldaur, Loudon Wainwright, Howard Alden, Tim Kliphuis, and Matt Glaser. As an educator and clinician Matt has taught at the Berklee College of Music, the Augusta Heritage Center, the Ashokan Center, and Centrum. He has performed on A Prairie Home Companion, Jazz Night in America: Jazz at Lincoln Center, E-Town, Mountain Stage, and Michael Feinstein’s Song Travels.
Matt’s own recordings include the acclaimed Still Runnin’ Round in the Wilderness, the first of two planned CDs to explore the “lost” compositions of the under-recognized American singer-songwriter Willard Robison, Love Story, It’s Been Swell, and Hell Among the Hedgehogs, a smoking hot twin-guitar CD with the Hot Club of Cowtown’s Whit Smith.
Learn some of the essential chord voicings you’ll need to know to start playing 1920s-style chord melody, including the three major and minor triad voicings on the top three strings. With Notation/Tab
A Roots of Jazz Guitar subscription includes:
Get started now! Use promo code MattLand at checkout and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription. Subscribe to the Roots of Jazz Guitar course today for access to all of these guitar lessons and new material every month!
The Roots of Jazz Guitar Matt Munisteri talks about the acoustic jazz guitar styles of the 1920s and ’30s that he’ll be teaching in this course, as exemplified by players like Eddie Lang, Nick Lucas, Dick McDonough, Carl Kress, Lonnie Johnson, and others.
Matt Munisteri’s 1930 Gibson L-5 Guitar Matt talks about one of his 1930 Gibson L-5 guitars in this video. He discusses the history of the L-5 a bit and how he acquired this particular instrument.
CHORD MELODY BASICS
ROOTS OF JAZZ RHYTHM GUITAR
MORE CHORD MELODY VOICINGS
Bye Bye Blues Learn a chord melody arrangement of “Bye Bye Blues,” a staple of traditional jazz and early 1920s music. Matt starts by going through the voicings you’ll use to play the arrangement, showing you specific fingerings that will help you move from chord to chord smoothly. He also shows you some different rhythmic ideas you can try with the picking hand when you’re playing melody notes that last for a full measure or two.
Whispering The jazz standard “Whispering,” first published (and recorded by Paul Whiteman) in 1920 has a very 1920s sound, with some characteristic harmonic movement. You’ll learn a chord melody version of “Whispering” in the key of C in this lesson. You’ll also learn some cool 1930s-style chord-melody variations that feature contrapuntal voice movement and chord substitution.
Picking the Guitar Nick Lucas’s instrumental tour de force “Picking the Guitar,” recorded in 1922, is one of the most important songs in the early jazz guitar canon. “Picking the Guitar,” along with another tune recorded by Lucas at the same time, “Teasing the Frets,” set a template for guitar playing that carried on through the music of Eddie Lang and even the Hot Club of France. Lang and Django Reinhardt shared a similar stylistic quality with Lucas in their use of picking-hand downstrokes, and “Picking the Guitar,” in addition to being a great tune to play, is a study in using downstrokes.
I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” was written in 1938 and was a big hit for the Ink Spots. It’s a great tune for practicing sliding inversions when playing chord melody. Matt starts by singing it through so you get a sense of the melody and basic chords. Then he starts breaking down his chord melody version of the tune, which is in the key of F and includes some phrases with cool internal movement, a couple of dissonant Dick McDonough-style licks, and a chromatic descending line under the bridge melody.
April Kisses Eddie Lang recorded his guitar showpiece “April Kisses” on April 1, 1927. Although he’s credited as the writer, nobody really knows where it came. Matt shows you how Lang played it and gives you ideas about playing variations and making this “rhapsodic meditation” your own.
Honeysuckle Rose Matt uses the jazz standard “Honeysuckle Rose” to talk about song form. He tells you how to quickly communicate a song’s form to fellow musicians and then walks you through the basic form of “Honeysuckle Rose,” playing rhythm and singing the melody. Then you’ll learn a chord melody version of “Honeysuckle Rose” inspired by Dick McDonough and Bucky Pizzarelli.
Somebody Loves Me The 1920s jazz classic “Somebody Loves Me” was written by George Gershwin, Ballard MacDonald, and Buddy DeSilva and was a hit for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Ukulele Ike. It has an unusual chord structure, so Matt starts by singing and playing rhythm once through the song to give you a sense of the melody and basic chord progression. Then you’ll learn a chord melody arrangement of “Somebody Loves Me” that uses the Alan Reuss lick you learned in “Honeysuckle Rose” and has as some cool contrary motion on the bridge.
Fussy Mabel In this lesson, you’ll learn a single-note solo played by guitarist Bernard Addison, who was born in 1905 and played with a lot of the greats of early jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins, and Jelly Roll Morton, whose 1930 recording of “Fussy Mabel” this solo comes from. Addison was primarily a rhythm player, but his 1930s recordings with Morton included a lot of solos. He had a huge sound, and an incredible rhythmic facility that allowed him to match the kind of phrasing Armstrong was doing.
I’ll See You In My Dreams The jazz classic “I’ll See You In My Dreams” was written in 1924 by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn. Rather than an AABA format it has two 16-bar halves, the second of which has a harmonic twist that introduces a bit of pathos to the song. Matt starts by playing and singing it through so you get a sense of the overall harmonic content and melody. Then he shows you a chord melody version “I’ll See You In My Dreams” that includes some cool substitutions and contrary motion.
Teasing the Frets The early jazz guitar instrumental classic “Teasing the Frets” was written by Ralph Colicchio and first recorded by Nick Lucas in 1922. It’s a guitar rag played with the plectrum and is the first blues ever recorded on the guitar as well as the first minor blues ever recorded. Lucas recorded it a number of times and always played it differently, so the version you’ll learn here includes Matt’s favorite passages from Lucas as well as some of his own ideas. Matt walks you through all three parts phrase by phrase, giving you fingering and picking suggestions and a few variations to try.
Pennies from Heaven One of the most widely performed standards in the great American songbook, “Pennies from Heaven” is also the basis for numerous bebop tunes and instrumentals. After playing and singing the song through, Matt shows you how to construct a chord-melody version of “Pennies from Heaven” in the key of C. He includes some chord passages with internal movement and a few harmonic variations.
ADVANCED RHYTHM STYLES
Dyad Rhythm There are times when you’re playing with a band, especially if you’re playing an amplified archtop guitar, that the sound of full chords is too much. In this lesson Matt shows you a style of rhythm he’s developed that involves playing two-note chords, or dyads. He uses “Pennies from Heaven” as an example of dyad rhythm, explaining which notes of the chord are essential to include in the dyad, and walking you through the dyad voicings he uses to play “Pennies from Heaven.”
TURNAROUNDS In this lesson, you’ll learn some cycles of chords that can be used as intros, endings, and turnarounds between sections of a song. Matt starts with the common iii–Vi–ii–V progression, explaining the basic progression and giving you a few examples of iii–Vi–ii–V turnarounds in the keys of F and Eb. Next he shows you the common I–I7–IV–iv turnaround often used as an ending by people like Eddie Lang and Nick Lucas. Then he goes on to cover turnarounds with a diminished chord substituted for the VI, both a diminished chord built on the root and one a half step above the root. Finally, he shows you how, once you’ve learned a number of turnarounds, you can use them to play solos on “rhythm changes” (the chords to “I Got a Rhythm”), which is used for many songs.
Check out these songs and guitarists featured in the Roots of Jazz Guitar course.