Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary

(by Rick Peckham)

Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary by Rick Peckham is another great book from Berklee press. It’s a great reference (and exercise tool) to help you memorize a lot of must-know movable chord shapes on the fingerboard. If you’re new or uncomfortable around all these “weird” jazz chords, extensions, nomenclatures, symbols, progressions (and YES, the fingerings!), then this is for you.

… and if not (meaning that your chord playing is already fluid) then this could only help it with some new ideas and refreshers. I personally get it out once in a while to review my harmonic stuff on the fretboard!

The first section will have you go through most useable chord shapes for jazz guitar (approximately a hundred of them). Everything ‘standard’ is covered: major 7 and major 6, minor 7 and minor 6, all sorts of dominants … and more! Than Peckham goes into adding 9th, 11th and 13th in a beautiful way.

The second section of the book will then make you practice the voicings with specific sets of exercises. This ensures the reader to have plenty (very plenty) of applications for the material at hand. It’s not just a phone book of chords classified by postal codes! It’s first and foremost a workbook, with very neat exercises.

After going through this book, you’ll never be intimitated by a jazz lead sheet ever again!

The best thing about learning “standards” chord grips like this is that you can also create countless variations on them (partial chords, more extensions, different fingerings, ideas using counterpoint etc.) Start simply and let your creativity soar. Having a solid foundation, like this, certainly helped me go further into a highly personal sound for comping. Starting from basic drop2’s and drop3’s and then seeing possibilities in creative exploration comes, for me at least, from a deep understanding of chords and progressions.

To sum up: the Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary is cheap (under 10 bucks), content is clear and it can help just about ANY jazz guitarist out there. Even as a ‘refresher’, or simply as a reference, it’s worth having it lying around the practice room.

Staff notation, chord diagrams and tabs (oh yes!) Highly recommended.

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