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Watch the Listening to the Band & Comping online guitar lesson by Henry Johnson from Jazz Expressions

Let's talk about the guitarist's role in the rhythm section. For a long time, guitar players weren't allowed to solo - we were just allowed to play the rhythm. Then along came Charlie Christian, and he was soloing like a horn player, and started being featured like a horn player. Later on, guitar players became so involved with being up front that they were no longer worrying about what their job was in the rhythm section.

Coming up, my favorite thing was being in the rhythm section and understanding my role in the rhythm section and how it worked. Especially in jazz, I've played a lot with organ players, who're playing bass with their left hand, that was your job during the organ solo. You had to be the organ player's left hand and stay out of their way when you're comping. It's your job to play easy, simple, and keep it grooving at the same time.