10 Best Jazz Guitar Songs

There are so many great guitar players today and from the past that it is almost impossible to come up with the 10 best jazz guitar songs of all time. Even coming up with the 10 best jazz guitar players would be a daunting task. However, most jazz guitar enthusiasts would agree that the musicians and songs from the early jazz days are the best. After all, they set the pace and the trend for modern jazz and many players cut their teeth on their recordings.

  1. "Four on Six." Nobody can dispute the influence that Wes Montgomery had on jazz guitar. He was not only good at single note soloing but set a trend for many players by using octaves in his solos. "Four on Six" was released on his The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery album.
  2. "Night and Day." Joe Pass is recognized by many as a virtuoso. His style of playing was phenomenal even when he had no backup band. One of the ten best jazz guitar songs is definitely "Night and Day" from his "Virtuoso" album.
  3. "Swing to Bop." There cannot be a list of jazz guitar songs that does not include something from Charlie Christian. Charlie is considered by most players to be the father of jazz 'bop'. "Swing to Bop" shows off his tremendous ability to improvise a guitar solo.
  4. "Room 335." Larry Carlton is a more contemporary jazz guitar player. Like so many of the modern day players some of his songs include a fusion of jazz, blues and rock. "Room 335" shows off his amazing style in putting together a guitar solo that weaves in and out of the tonal center.
  5. "Breezin'." George Benson started his guitar playing career as an excellent pure jazz player. After several years of that he decided to go just a little more commercial. But this didn't stop him from recording one of the best jazz guitar songs ever. "Breezin" has a 'cool jazz' feel and it may not please hardcore jazz enthusiasts, but it is definitely a work of art and worth hearing.
  6. "Midnight Blue." From Kenny Burrell's album of the same name, "Midnight Blue" is a study in bebop jazz guitar playing. The whole album is full of wonderful guitar playing, but this might be the best cut on any of his albums. Kenny's style has influenced many big name guitarists.
  7. "Djangology." While Django Reinhardt's most popular song is probably "Nuages", "Djangology" is the one that really shows off his guitar work.
  8. Autumn Leaves. Joe Diorio has never been real well known among the general population, but every jazz player that studies their art is very familiar with his work. He is probably the most eclectic guitar player in the jazz field. Listen to his version of "Autumn Leaves" and you will likely start collecting his albums.
  9. "Cry Me A River." In 1955 Julie London released a vocal recording of "Cry Me a River". Her backup musician was Barney Kessel. The groundbreaking guitar work he did on that song played a big part in bringing guitar players out to the front of bands and orchestras.
  10. "Billie's Bounce." George Benson gets another mention in the list of ten best jazz guitar songs. "Billie's Bounce" is from his album "Compact Jazz." This is more hardcore jazz than the song "Breezin" and shows more of his traditional style of guitar playing. Not only is the guitar work awesome, but the piano playing is great, too. That shouldn't be surprising as the piano player in this song is Herbie Hancock. They both play great solos and also trade back and forth exchanging some fantastic licks. 
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