The jazz police are coming to get you

by | Dec 7, 2017 | Articles

In the jazz scene you’ll run across people whose job seems to be to tell you what jazz is, and what it isn’t:

“You can’t ever bend the strings when improvising jazz!”

“I’m sorry – but you’re completely incorrect. You said it was a G7#5 chord, but technically it should be a G7b13”.

“You can’t play jazz on a solid body guitar!”

These are known as the Jazz Police. Strutting around with their trusty jazz theory and history books at hand, ready to pounce on any offender that dares to be a culprit of Jazz Heresy – (gasp) the most appalling and heinous crime.


This kind of attitude annoys me. Music needs to evolve and grow, rather being stuck in a dusty institution like some sort of museum exhibit.

Now, let’s get something straight – it’s important:

To get to where you want to be as a jazz player, reading a load of theory books and stuffing your head full of “rights” and “wrongs” will not help you. You need to get your hands dirty. Learn a bunch of jazz standards, mingle with other jazz players, and actually start playing music with real people – this is the real way to build your jazz skills.

So take that, Jazz Police. 

Greg O’Rourke,

Founder, Fret Dojo

World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education

P.S – By the way, Ed Bickert, one of the greatest jazz guitarists who ever lived, played jazz on a solid body Telecaster. Even with a single coil pickup at times. So there.

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