Before there was pop, rock, funk, disco, and country, there was jazz.
Jazz is the first musical genre to begin in America. It opened the door to on-stage improvisation and a wealth of musical creativity.
And you should learn how to play it.
There are plenty of easy jazz guitar songs out there. In fact, famous jazz guitarists like Freddie Green and Wes Montgomery have played on more songs than you can count.
How are you supposed to know the best songs to start with?
We have you covered. Keep reading to see our pick for easy jazz standards for guitar.
1. “Tenor Madness” by Sonny Rollins
“Tenor Madness” is written in Bb blues, which is one of the first jazz scales that beginners learn. Blues scales are a minor pentatonic scale with the fourth scale degree raised a half step.
This jazz standard not only uses the Bb blues, but it also has the popular iii-vi-ii-V turnaround.
2. “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra
The steady quarter notes in “Fly Me to the Moon” will help you practice keeping an even tempo.
The steady tempo will also help you learn the chord changes, particularly the changing 7th chords. Additionally, this is a great song to practice playing and singing at the same time.
3. “Summertime” by George Gershwin
If you’re looking to work on your improvisation, you can use a minor pentatonic scale over the changes in “Summertime”
If you want to brush up on other easy jazz standards for guitar, you can check out jazz guitar tab websites. While you’re still learning your scales and modes, tabs will help you learn new songs quicker.
4. “So What” by Miles Davis
Like “Tenor Madness,” “So What” is another great song for practicing melodies. It will also introduce you to playing in modes.
“So What” was written in the Dorian mode, which is a major scale with the third and seventh scale degrees lowered one half-step.
Major scales (Ionian) and minor scales (Aeolian) are common in popular music, but Dorian and Mixolydian modes are common in jazz. Learning these common modes will make learning new songs easier over time.
5. “Autumn Leaves” by Joseph Kosma
“Autumn Leaves” has a medium tempo, which will teach you how move your fingers quicker. When learning this song, start at a slower tempo and work your way up to the appropriate speed.
You’ll also practice a major ii-V-I progression and a minor ii-V-I progression, which are two common jazz chord progressions.
Impress Your Friends With These Easy Jazz Guitar Songs
Famous jazz guitarists like Joe Pass didn’t become famous overnight and you won’t either. Remember to practice every day and to continue learning new songs that you love.
Before you know it, you’ll build a repertoire of easy jazz guitar songs.
What’s your favorite jazz standard? Let us know in the comments below!