Composed by Thelonious Monk
Straight, No Chaser is one of the most called standards in the jazz lexicon. This is likely because it is a standard jazz blues and as long as someone knows the melody, the band can usually handle playing the tune.
It was composed and recorded in 1951 by Thelonious Monk and is often played in both F and Bb.
The Nuts and Bolts
Much like Tenor Madness, Blue Monk, and many other tunes, if you can handle a blues, you can handle playing over this tune.
The main thing to be aware of here is the melody. Like many Monk tunes, the melody is really the part that trips many players up. He often likes to make use of displacing one or two beats, so make sure you know where you are in the measure!
Straight, No Chaser: Comping Ideas
Here are some very basic shapes that you can use to begin comping over Straight, No Chaser. As always, it's highly recommended that you take these into the different sets of strings and all over the neck.
Straight, No Chaser: Comping Etude
Since we've got several lessons on blues tunes and this one is not exactly chord melody-friendly, we're going with a comping etude on the blues.
Straight, No Chaser: Melody
I also took the liberty of showing you how I like to play the melody and a good way to think of it on guitar. It works for me, at least!
Straight, No Chaser: Chord Reference Sheet
As always, we've included a chord reference sheet with some voicings using extensions for you to further your comping ability over this tune.
-Thelonious Monk's Straight, No Chaser collection from 2016. I believe this is the original recording although I am not entirely sure. Still a great take by the original composer!
-Miles Davis' Milestones album released in 1958. This is often a preferred take of this tune for many so it's worth a listen. Besides, how could you go wrong with Miles?
-Keith Jarrett's Bye Bye Blackbird album released in 1993. I am a HUGE fan of all things Keith. In particular, I am totally obsessed with this trio. This is a must have right here.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.