JAZZ GUITAR HARDBALL
Wes Montgomery Octaves
In “Jazz Guitar Hardball” we have spoken
extensively about the importance of working
toward and discovering one’s own unique
style, voice and tone. Yet another master
we might study in our efforts to reach that
ultimate goal, who without a doubt captured a completely innovative style, is Wes
Montgomery. Part of his unique sound came
from playing with his thumb, but also from
his use of octaves in his solos. If you are a
picker, don’t be afraid to apply his particular
octave style to the use of a pick; either way,
it still sounds great!
that the correct execution of the technique
is to use the first finger and little finger of
the left hand exclusively to create the octave
shape, on all the string sets; 6 and 4, 5 and
3, 4 and 2, 3 and 1. For most eighth-note
lines, pick strokes are usually all down.
Most authorities, Including Arlen Roth, agree
The octave exercise—using the 12 bar blues
form—illustrates the normal octave positions
of this technique, as well as the typical blues-based harmonic vocabulary on which Wes
relied. Practice this technique by recording
the 12 bar blues progression and playing
along in octaves. Plus, there is a bonus Wes-style chord riff at the end!
A clinician and jazz educator, Jim Bastian is a
ten year veteran of teaching guitar in higher
education. Jim holds two masters degrees and
has published six jazz studies texts, including the
best-selling “How to Play Chordal Bebop Lines for
Guitar” (available from Jamey Aebersold). He actively
performs on both guitar and bass on the East Coast.
An avid collector and trader in the vintage market,
you can visit Jim’s store in Gear Search at
premierguitar.com (dealer: IslandFunhouse).