Series: String Letter Publishing
Publisher: String Letter Publishing
Softcover with CD - TAB
Artist: Various Artists

Editor: Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Author Photograph: Stephen Hunt

Add to your repertoire with this collection of early jazz and swing standards! The companion CD features a two-guitar recording of each tune, and the book includes full guitar parts in standard notation and tab with chord diagrams, plus detailed notes on the song origins and arrangements.

Includes 15 songs: After You've Gone - Avalon - Baby, Won't You Please Come Home - Ballin' the Jack - Hindustan - I Ain't Got Nobody (And Nobody Cares for Me) - Indiana (Back Home Again in Indiana) - Limehouse Blues - Poor Butterfly - Rose Room - Saint James Infirmary - St. Louis Blues - Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do - Till the Clouds Roll By - Whispering. 38 pages



Early jazz refers to a period in American popular music that lasted from the late 'teens through the 1920s; the swing era basically refers to the 1930s. These periods overlap, of course, since musicians from the '20s continued playing throughout the 1930s and beyond, and the swing players of the '30s likewise continued to perform and record into the subsequent decades. With one exception, the 15 songs in this book were composed by professional songwriters in the first quarter of the 20th century. They were written as popular songs, to be sung in theatrical shows and revues and to be sold as sheet music, which at the time was still a bigger business than the sale of recordings. By the mid-1920s, as Louis Armstrong was hitting his stride with his Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions, recorded music was having its first big boom, and the interpretations of jazz musicians like Armstrong began to create a whole second life for certain popular songs. Jazz groups recorded these tunes with looser, more swinging interpretations of the melodies, new chord voicings, and a jazz pulse, generally using the songs as vehicles for improvisation. This fresh approach served to pull the songs in this book into what was then just becoming the jazz repertoire. By the 1930s the swing orchestras of Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman were streamlining and refining the innovations made by Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and others. Having cut their teeth on the music of the 1920s, Henderson, Basie, Goodman, and their peers and sidemen naturally gravitated toward reinterpreting those tunes, even as they composed new pieces and chose current show music to arrange. So we get Basie's and Goodman's versions of "Royal Garden Blues," Goodman's and Henderson's versions of "Rose Room," Basie's and Fats Waller's versions of "I Ain't Got Nobody," Goodman's and Jimmy Lunceford's versions of Introduction and Tune-Up: "Avalon"-all songs written a good 15 to 20 years before and given new life in the latest popular style. History exerts a winnowing effect on the music of the past-the 1960s' reputation as a golden era of rock 'n' roll, for instance, rests as much on forgetting the work of the Archies as on remembering that of Beatles and Bob Dylan. With the jazz age, too, certain songs have emerged as standards while countless other topical, novelty, and sentimental songs lie crumbling in the dust where they probably belong. In terms of the jazz repertoire, a standard is simply a song still in circulation because at some point an artist with sufficient influence saw fit to treat it as jazz material, and enough others subsequently ratified that first musician's judgement by recording and performing the song themselves. Early Jazz and Swing Songs includes the melody and chords to 15 standards in the public domain. The Cdincludes a two-guitar recording of each arrangement, but to really learn how to play these tunes, especially the melodies, I suggest tracking down at least one original recording of each song. I have stayed close to the published sheet-music versions of the melodies found in Hal Leonard's Early Jazz Standards, and more than a few of the tunes sound somewhat square when played that way. I did so, however, because even by the 1930s, many jazz musicians' renditions of these tunes were loose interpretations of the original theme, and if you want to understand the kind of improvisors they were, there are few better places to start than observing how they ornamented and re-created the melodies. I hope you have fun learning to play these tunes. Like fiddle tunes or classic rock songs, early jazz and swing standards are a great meeting ground for casual jamming with friends and fellow musicians. So once you've got a few of these under your fingers, don't hesitate to try them out the next time you're doing some picking. Good luck!



I've arranged the chord progressions in this book in what guitarists call the Freddie Green style, after the rhythm guitarist who reportedly took only one recorded solo in his five decades with the Count Basie orchestra. While such nobility may not be your cup of Darjeeling, Green nevertheless perfected a comping (as in, ac-comp-animent) style that lays down just the right groove for a swing interpretation of the melody. There are two components to this style: what chords to play and how to play them. Let's look at each one before we get into the tunes themselves.



Jazz guitarists tend to use four-note chord voicings, but Green's style trimmed each chord down to the three notes found on the sixth, fourth, and third strings, as shown below in the second row. (Note that there is no commonly used fournote version of the G/D, so just the three-note version is shown.) You can play all 15 arrangements in this book using just these nine chord shapes.

Four-Note Voicings. Several of these chords have the third or the fifth of the chord on the lowest string, rather than the root. You may also have noticed that the Gm6, G7/D,and Gdim chords all have the exact same shape. These chords are meant to be played with a bassist, who is presumably playing the root of the chord on the first beat of each measure. Heard out of that context, these chords may not sound right at first, which is another good reason to spend some time with original recordings of these tunes and even to try and play along with them. Wherever possible, I've arranged these songs in the keys in which they were first published. While jazz musicians usually stick to the original key, sometimes another key becomes a popular alternative-for example, "Indiana" is just as frequently played in the key of F as in the original key of AJ,. And standards are frequently moved to another key to accommodate a vocalist.



In the swing era, the guitarist was usually part of a four-piece rhythm section that also included piano, bass, and drums. Keeping good time meant providing a steady flow of quarter notes, four per bar, by playing a downstroke on every beat and possibly emphasizing beats 2 and 4 somewhat. Ifyou let your fretting fingers mute the fifth, second, and first strings, you can do a big, percussive strum across all six strings and just hear the notes you want to hear, on the sixth, fourth, and third strings. Relaxing your grip at the end of each quarter note dampens the strings and creates a little space between each stroke. At slower tempos, the four strums in a bar tend to come out relatively evenly, as in Example 1. At a moderate tempo (Example 2), the second and fourth beats start to get more clipped. And at faster tempos (Example 3), the second and fourth beats tend to become just a percussive backbeat.  


After You've Gone

Baby, Won't You Please Come Home
Ballin' The Jack
I Ain't Got Nobody (And Nobody Cares For Me)
Indiana (Back Home Again In Indiana)
Limehouse Blues
Poor Butterfly
Rose Room
Saint James Infirmary
St. Louis Blues
Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do
Till The Clouds Roll By

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