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Watch the History and Resouces online guitar lesson by Jason Loughlin from 30 Country Jazz Licks You MUST Know

For many of you, this is a new genre you're discovering for the first time. The question I get the most is how is this music different from western swing or jazz. There's a lot of gray area and crossover for sure, as these records we're drawing from here are either western swing, music that grew out of western swing, or jazz records inspired by music of the south. What we're looking for are the first guitarists to improvise with jazz sensibilities over country music.

The combination of the styles is mostly the result of the rise of the record industry. Before the age of 78's, songs were passed by live radio broadcasts, traveling minstrel shows and sheet music. There were two "booms" happening in the record business - swing and hillbilly music. These were big selling words. Hillbilly music was an advertising label given to Appalachian music, a label reluctantly accepted by people in more rural areas. Records allowed music to spread quicker and allowed disc jockeys to play the same song as much as they wanted and the artist's popularity to spread. It was only a matter of time before someone married these two genres to form a new kind of music.

Western swing may be America's first fusion of styles, and nobody did this more definitively than Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys. He was the first to use trumpet, sax, piano, fiddle, guitar, and lap steel all together to create a big band of the south (Tulsa, Oklahoma to be specific). His band became a breeding ground for great guitarists. These guitar heroes would go on to inspire the next wave of electric guitarists who would define rockabilly.

Country jazz is not a widely known term, mostly because this music was not hugely popular at the time and got folded into the country or the jazz genre. It describes the music that exists outside of western swing - music that comes from players who are deeply rooted in Appalachian music and country, but have a more sophisticated sense of harmony when it comes to composing or improvisation.


Country Music USA by Bill C. Malone
Southwest Shuffle by Rich Kienzie
The Jazz of The Southwest: An Oral History of Western Swing by Jean A. Boyd


Bear Family Records - dedicated to preserving and rereleasing great American music.
Discogs - Great place to find vinyl records.
YouTube Playlist - I've complied playlist of videos of all the artist covered here and more! for full transcriptions and downloadable lessons.

List of Players

Jimmy Bryant
Les Paul
Grady Martin
Hank Garland
Chet Atkins
Roy Lanham
Leon Rhodes
Jimmy Wyble
Benny Garcia
Phil Baugh
Sheldon Bennett
Jimmie Rivers
George Barnes
Thumbs Carllile
Jimmy Capps
Billy Byrd
Speedy Haworth
Buddy Merrill
Zeb Turner
Zeke Turner
Junior Barnard
Roy Clark
Neil LaVang
Merle Travis
Paul Buskirk
Eldon Shamblin
Jethro Burns
Butterball Paige
Bob Wills
Speedy West
Joaquin Murphey
Curly Chalker
Buddy Emmons
Buddy Charleton
Leon McAuliffe