In playing jazz guitar, guitarists can take their playing to new heights and showcase their skills. Jazz is an intimidating genre for novice guitarists, but fear not because there are plenty of easy jazz guitar songs you can learn today to get familiar with playing this style.
Summertime is one of the best examples of Gershwin’s artistry, and it’s one of the most famous American songs of all time. Countless artists from Miles Davis to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Janis Joplin and Sublime have recorded hit versions of this timeless standard.
Gershwin composed the song in 1934 for the musical opera Porgy and Bess. Its soulful melody has been reimagined on every instrument, and it’s stunning on guitar as a chord melody, lead instrument, or accompaniment.
Check out the chord chart or tablature for this classic song and add it to your repertoire today.
2. Road Song
This Wes Montgomery classic offers a fun-to-play melody, and it’s the perfect way to get some of Wes’s signature playing style under your fingers. Wes was famous for his exceptional use of octaves in his melodies, and Road Song is a shining example of that.
Road Song was released in 1968 on Wes’s album of the same name, and it rocketed to number one on the jazz Billboard charts. It was the last album Wes recorded before he passed away. While the album isn’t one of his classics, the title track is an impressive example of Wes’s signature playing.
Have a look at the chord chart and tablature for Road Song, and get a feel for the incredible playing of the legendary Wes Montgomery.
3. Autumn Leaves
This 1945 classic from composer Joseph Kosma is one of the best ways to get a feel for jazz harmony, and it’s requisite learning for any aspiring jazz musician, regardless of instrument.
This song is such a useful learning tool because so much of the song is built on ii-V-I chord progressions, emblematic of jazz styles. Musical giants from Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan have all put their spin on this beautiful standard, and virtuoso guitarist Joe Pass has a lovely guitar rendition in his catalog.
Be sure to master the chord chart and tablature for this enduring standard.
4. Georgia (on my Mind)
Hoagy Carmichael penned this iconic song in 1930, and it later became one of the most enduring examples of Ray Charles’s artistry. This soulful number is bluesy, jazzy and features a beautiful chord progression and melody that every guitarist should have in their repertoire.
As far as some of the best jazz songs goes, Georgia is incredibly simplistic. The tune follows an AABA format, and the B section moves from the major key to its relative minor, which is one of the more basic relationships between keys in jazz.
Check out the chord chart and tablature for Georgia on my Mind, and master this standard like the back of your hand.
5. Fly Me to the Moon
This lovely tune was written in 1954 by Bart Howard, and it was immortalized in the annals of popular song a decade later when Frank Sinatra famously recorded it. This beautiful tone lends itself well to chord melodies, so it’s a very popular song to learn if you’re an aspiring jazz guitarist looking to take your playing to the next level.
Fly Me To The Moon is a great example of musical harmony, and the chord progression offers many clever substitutions to make it unique. Despite the relative difficulty of the chord progression, it’s still a fairly easy tune to learn, and the chords begin to make more sense to you the more you play it through. It’s definitely one of the popular easy guitar songs to learn, not just in jazz but for the instrument overall!
Check out the chord chart for Fly Me to the Moon and learn the song’s chord melody with this tab.
6. Satin Doll
Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington are the composers of this 1953 standard, which adds lyrics by the iconic Johnny Mercer. Satin Doll has been recorded by some of Jazz’s biggest names, including Ella Fitzgerald, Harry James, and Oscar Peterson.
This tune features a unique chord progression that’s made almost entirely of ii-V cadences in different keys. The melody leans heavily on the harmony, and it’s easy to understand the transposition to the new key. If your goal is to become an advanced jazz guitarist, learning how to play over these cadences is a practical requirement.
Check out the chord chart and tablature for Satin Doll and enjoy a great ii-V workout.
7. Take The ‘A’ Train
Strayhorn and Ellington combine once more for this 1939 classic which draws inspiration from the ‘A’ subway line in New York City, which ran from Brooklyn to Harlem. At the time, Harlem was the epicenter of jazz in America.
This song is ideal for practicing your vi-ii-V-I progressions, and it has a memorable melody that is sure to get you tapping your feet. Take notice of the first ending and how the iii chord is substituted for the I (Em7 instead of CMaj7). Substitutions are a building block of advanced jazz harmony, and this tune will help familiarize you.
Check out the chord chart and tablature for this jazz standard, and add it to your songbook today.
8. Blue Bossa
This iconic song was written in 1963 by Kenny Dorham, and it’s a shining example of the fusion between bebop and Latin jazz. This song takes the form of a bossa nova, a popular Latin style. Still, there’s plenty of hard bop sensibilities that made Blue Bossa a staple in the repertoires of players like McCoy Tyner, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, and many others.
Before getting started with this tune, you’ll need to master the bossa nova rhythm, which provides the rhythmic backdrop for every bossa nova tune. Once you’re confident with the rhythm, check out the chord chart and tablature for Blue Bossa.
9. Billie’s Bounce
No list would be complete without a great example of the 12-bar blues format, and there are few blues records as iconic as the Charlie Parker classic, Billie’s Bounce.
The original recording features Charlie Parker and Miles Davis with the legendary trumpet player Dizzie Gillespie on piano. This version is a master class in 12-bar blues guitar playing, and it’s something every guitarist should be familiar with.
Parker inserts some creative changes to make this blues his own, such as substituting the I chord to insert a diminished climbing baseline in the second bar and adding ii-V progressions to provide more creative harmony to solo over after the melody. You’ll also hear excellent versions of this tune from guitarists like Wes Montgomery and George Benson.
Read the chord chart and tabs and learn one of the best easy jazz guitar songs, Billie’s Bounce, today.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.