Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell are two guitarists that loved to imitate a horn section with chordal riff figures. Wes used them in his solos and while he comped, even while a pianist was comping along to a soloist. Often overlooked by guitarists, riff figures are an important part of jazz history rooted in the blues, making the music swing hard. So much of Wes Montgomery’s style comes from riffs in octaves and chords sometimes straight from big bands like Basie and Hampton. In this Master Class I’ll go over many of these swinging riff figures and shout choruses and adapt them for guitar.

These are deceptive animals in that they sound easy but are often very hard to negotiate in a chordal style. For example, many figures are quite syncopated and the chord changes occur in what seem like unusual places.

Many times call and response type of motifs are employed to create very interesting solos and comping, with good use of space. This is important work for the jazz guitarist that often gets ignored. For the guitarist who is looking to improve his or her time feel and play compelling chordal motifs created by the swing masters, this class is for you!

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Class Content

Swing and Big Band Chordal Riffs and Shout Choruses
Swing and Big Band Chordal Riffs and Shout Choruses 01:28:00

Course Reviews


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  1. Profile photo of youness toualbia


    This is a great lesson, very useful and tasteful lines ! The only drawback is that the voicings he used are a bit repetitive.

    ~ youness toualbia (January 28, 2012)

  2. Profile photo of FABIO RAMACCI


    I’m a beginner in jazz guitar, and found this class very useful. To me chord melody playing is one of the hardest obstacles and this lesson is very helpful, providing tons of cool examples and Steve’s accurate explanations.

    ~ FABIO RAMACCI (June 2, 2009)

  3. Profile photo of James S.


    This is a great subject, and well prepared. It is highly recommended for anyone who wants to get into chord-melody playing while integrating other techniques. Last night, the piano player in my group could not make our weekly gig, leaving me as the comping instrument; I found myself using these lines all night long!!!! they work as solo comping just as well as they would with a piano hogging up all the space.

    ~ james seaberry (January 31, 2008)

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