Jazz Made Easy
Inspired by Django Reinhardt’s ingenuity, Richard Barrett explores three-note chords that produce authentic Gypsy jazz voicings
It may be a cliché to say that necessity is the mother of invention, but that doesn’t make it any less true. A great example of this is how Django Reinhardt managed to reinvent his playing after his fretting hand was badly damaged in a fire. All but losing the use of his third and fourth fingers led him to favour voicings that are now staples in what has become known as Gypsy jazz. In fact, it’s common to see a jazz guitarist vamping on chords that seem to somehow outline complex harmony but without using painful stretches and energetic leaps around the fretboard.
While it isn’t possible to dispel the mysteries of jazz harmony in a couple of hundred words, it is realistic to gain an insight from the kind of chord vocabulary and movements these players use. So, no complex, handtwisting extended voicings or ringing open chords here this time. But hopefully a very useful approach that can open the door to more authentic jazz (or Gypsy jazz) ‘vamping’. Nice!