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Gypsy Jazz guitar greats

Updated on August 29, 2012

Bireli Lagrene

Bireli was a child prodigy in gypsy jazz circles, but he's even better now. His Gypsy Jazz Project are really good live - in this Django composition he quotes some Mozart!

This style, gypsy jazz guitar, was developed by Django Reinhardt in the 1930s, and it's a fantastic vehicle for improvisation.

If you play guitar, you might find my other hub Guitar- advanced and jazz chords useful.

Bireli Lagrene

Jazz Guitar greats

  • Jimmy Bruno has his own Guitar Institute where anyone can sign up and study online. I like his teaching method, which is very well presented and explained. Here he is playing with Joe Beck, a great player with a very good guitar instructional DVD. There are sample lessons available at Jimmy Bruno's site, which is linked below. You can learn a lot just watching the relaxed way he plays, switching between pick and fingerstyle, with a nice clear tone.
  • I've been working through Larry Coryell's DVD series. It goes a bit fast most of the time, but he is obviously a terrific player and there is a huge amount of good info for the aspiring jazz player.
  • Ed Bickert is another of my favourite players. You can download tracks from i-tunes, and he covers a lot of jazz classics.
  • Ted Greene was also an amazing player, with a series of excellent instruction books that are highly recommended. Check out his baroque and jazz improvising on Youtube.
  • Mike Stern is a top player, with Rock and blues influence. I especially like his album "Voices", which for me has some strong compositions as well as great guitar.
  • Wes Montgomery - one of the best players ever, though some of his recordings are marred by poor orchestration. Smokin' At the Half-Note shows his playing at its best.
  • Bireli Lagrene - one of the best gypsy jazz players, technically brilliant and always very entertaining. This video is a Django Reinhardt composition.
  • Jim Hall - a master of understatement and an all-round great player. I really like Concierto, which is his jazz version of the Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo. An amazing piece of music anyway, the jazz version is so good.

Joe Beck (R.I.P.) and Jimmy Bruno

Robben Ford

Another great player with some excellent DVDs on playing jazz and blues.

Django Reinhardt

Django was the original brilliant jazz guitar soloist, and my other hub Django's legacy includes some of his playing and has some info on Gypsy Jazz. Essential listening for all guitar players, as he has been a major influence on everybody else in the field since the 1930s.

Archtop guitars

A lot of the tone of jazz guitar is down to the use of archtop guitars - guitars built with carved wood tops in some cases. Gibson 400, Gibson L-5, Benedetto guitars are kind of the Rolls-Royces of the guitar maker's world. You might want to start saving now.

Gift idea

An i-phone application is The Real Book, two volumes of jazz standard chord charts you can download to your phone. Nice gift for the jazz guitarist in your life, and cheap!


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    • Jon Green profile image

      Jon Green 6 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      George Benson is a great player. Santana is more of a rock and blues player to me,but obviously one of the greats.

    • profile image

      JLS Tickets 6 years ago

      Hey, what about George Benson and Santana? I'd throw them in as one of the greats as guitarists.

    • profile image

      LEWJ 8 years ago

      ENJOYABLE HUB. Wes M. was indeed one of the best ever. But which recordings have poor orchestration in them?