Jazz: Guitar & Piano
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Steely Dan album reviews

 

Wes Montgomery on guitarGrant Green and McCoy Tyner

Guitar & Piano
Jazz

Nat King Cole TrioDjango Reinhardt

 
Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Jazz guitar and piano excellence

There are numerous excellent jazz guitarist's. This list below emphasizes select guitar greats that incorporated guitar and piano into their work. We are always discovering new artists to add and will update this page accordingly.  We would love your suggestions

Several excellent recordings that should make this list are out of print.  

Kenny Burrell Nat King Cole & Oscar MooreJim HallGrant Green  /    Wes Montgomery  / Oscar Peterson / Django Reinhardt

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Kenny Burrell

Kenny Burrell's career in the bop tradition has brought him into contact with greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Kenny Dorham, among many others, both as a session player and a leader.  His work has been quite diverse over the years performing in big band line-ups that are heavy in horns, to leading a three guitar jazz band, to trios.  

A biography of Kenny Burrell is provided by Djangomusic.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano
Blues: The Common Ground - Most of the album is with an all-star orchestra.  Included are two superb quartet cuts with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Grady Tate.
All Day Long - Jam session atmosphere with Tommy Flanagan on Piano, Art Taylor on Drums, Doug Watkins on Bass, Donald Byrd on Trumpet, and Frank Foster on Sax.
Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Nat King Cole and Oscar Moore 

Incredibly Nat was gifted beyond reproach both as a pianist and a singer.  His early work focused more on his piano and even included a number of  instrumentals. He formed the Nat King Trio featuring Oscar Moore on guitar and Wesley Prince on bass. Artists such as Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson went on to form guitar, piano, and bass trios modeled after his. 

Later Nat King Cole developed his singing perfecting jazz pop and basically dismissing his piano playing. The suggested recordings on this page focus on the Nat King's early work where he emphasized piano.  Oscar Moore of Nat's trio plays superb rhythm and lead guitar and he and Nat are among the best combinations of guitar and piano within any music discipline.  

Below are some highlights of Nat King Cole's early work. 

A biography of Nat King Cole is provided by Djangomusic.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Nat King Cole - The Greatest Hits [Capitol] - A collection of some of the early work that highlights material with Oscar Moore.  

Cool Cole [BOX SET] - This four disc import set is priced like two discs covering the period 1941 - '50.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Hit That Jive Jack-  The Nat King Cole trio recordings in 1940 and '41 is an excellent combination of jazz, and blues. Oscar and Nat are quite a combo.   

The Oscar Moore Quartet with Carl Perkins
The guitarist with the Nat King Cole trio with his own band.  

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Jim Hall

Jim Hall has performed in numerous ensembles.  A few of them feature him showing his ability to interact with great pianists are listed below. His work with Bill Evans is not only our favorite of Jim Hall's repertoire, it ranks high on our list of all time Jazz recordings. Their album Overtures shows Hall's ability to stay quiet and let Evans' solo, to gently complement the songs melody, to take off and lead, all in expressive ways.  

His album Jazz Guitar that is out of print is worth picking up if you can find a copy. It includes  Red Mitchell on bass and Carl Perkins on piano and includes a great version of the standard "Seven Comes Eleven." 

A biography of Jim Hall is provided by Djangomusic.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

UndercurrentOne of kind!! This is the best album of jazz guitar and piano duets that I have heard. It features Jim Hall and Bill Evans.

 

Storyteller  is a two disc reissue of Circles and All Across the City. Both  Gil Goldstein and Don Thompson help out on keyboards.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Grant Green

Grant Green is one of the great jazz guitarists. His style of bop has influences in blues and R&B and has a unique melodic feel to his playing.  Throughout his catalogue he displays his  interpretations of many jazz standards.  Below we highlighted some of his albums that feature his sessions with pianists McCoy Tyner, Sonny Clark and Kenny Drew.

A biography of Grant Green is provided by Djangomusic.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Matador has Green with the stellar backing unit of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Elvin Jones. Includes "My Favorite Things."

Solid - The same band as on the album Matador, with the addition of Joe Henderson and Spaulding on sax. 

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Ballads  is a compilation that features various band line-ups including  pianists Sonny Clark and Kenny Drew. Tracks include "My Funny Valentine," and "'Round Midnight."

The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark is a trimmed down version of the original four disc release, and is some of Grant Green's best work.  

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery lead work is beyond ordinary. However, his rhythm and chord patterns shouldn't be overlooked.  This is apparent in both big band and small ensembles.  Another trait  Wes excels in is his ability to play off of his band mates.  While many guitarists are happy to wait for their turn to solo to shine, Wes' interaction with band mates between the instrumentals is excellent, further adding to his mastery.  

Below are some highlights of Wes Montgomery's early and mid career highlights featuring Tommy Flanagan, and the Wynton Kelly trio among others.  

A biography of Wes Montgomery is provided by Djangomusic.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Incredible Jazz Guitar  Tommy Flanagan on piano, from 1960.

Impressions: The Verve Jazz Sessions: A two disc set. The first features studio songs from Movin' Wes, Goin' Out of My Head and California Dreaming. The second disc includes the essential 1965  Half Note sessions.  

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Willow Weep for Me - a 1965 release featuring Wynton Kelly on piano. This album is included on Impressions.

Full House . A  phenomenal live recording of Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio that includes Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, 1962.

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson had a phenomenal career teaming up with a variety musical line-ups, as well as recording several solo sessions.  Following in the tradition of Nat King Cole's trio line-up of piano, guitar, and bass, Oscar Peterson formed his on trio that featured Barney Kessel on guitar and Ray Brown on bass in 1952. The following year Herb Ellis replaced Kessel on guitar, and that trio was a force from 1953 through 1958 leaving behind several great recordings.  During the 1970's guitarist Joe Pass frequently accompanied Peterson.  Below are some recommendations of some these lineups.  

A biography of Oscar Peterson is provided by Djangomusic.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

At the Stratford Shakespearean Festival: Perhaps the best gem from this trio packing 75 minutes, including Reinhardt's classic "Nuages." 

Skol: This album is short, but essential. The all-star band includes Stephane Grappelli on violin, and Joe Pass on guitar, it doesn't get much better than this.  

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Django Reinhardt 

Django Reinhardt made his name by teaming up with violinist Stephane Grappelli in their Quintet of the Hot Club of France.  They were backed by a unique rhythm section of two acoustic guitars and a bass.  We have some recommendations of this line-up in a separate section, this page emphasizes piano.

In Django's early days there are numerous sessions featuring piano, but it was never an integral focus. Later in Django's career he added piano to his backing band in a number of formats.  Perhaps this magic began at his May 15, 1946,  Paris session where the Quintet line-up replaced the two rhythm guitars with a pianist and drummer. This new foundation that featured Django and another soloist along with a pianist, bassist, and drummer as the backing unit, yielded a more traditional jazz tone while still maintaining inferences of his gypsy roots. We highly recommend exploring this segment of Django's music.  

There are numerous Django sessions where he emphasized piano between 1946 and 1953. This can be summarized as:

Rome Sessions (1949 - '50) 
Miscellaneous   (1946 - '53)

Rome Sessions
Clearly, the Rome sessions in 1949 and '50 are essential, the former includes Stephane Grappelli and is their last recorded work. Our recommendation below, The Indispensable 1949 - 1950, is an excellent representation of this material and it includes a stunning version of "Nuages." 

The 1949 sessions had around seventy tracks and 1950 around thirty. If you want a more complete representation of this material the Fremeaux label has released much of it track by track. I have provided links to the new releases

Miscellaneous Sessions:
Excluding the 1949 and '50 Rome material Brussels and Paris discs sums the rest of this piano inspired bliss the best.  Though, it does not include everything. To complement it, the out of print  Peche a la Mouche includes two superb piano inspired sessions that we highly recommend, one from 1947 and one from 1953.  In addition, that album also includes lots of traditional quintet sessions from 1947 featuring Hubert Rostaing on clarinet.  Without question, the biggest charm to us on Peche a la Mouche is Django's  March 10, 1953, session of eight songs, which catches the master backed by a trio of piano, bass, and drums, and is one of a kind. If you can't locate Peche, the release Nuages includes that session and other 1953 material (also on Brussels and Paris)

We have additional Django coverage in our Guitar Greats section. 

A biography of Django Reinhardt is provided by Djangomusic.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

The Indispensable 1949-1950 - Django backed by a band with drums, bass, and piano. 1949 w/ Grappelli, and  '50 w/ Andre Ekyan on sax and clarinet.

Brussels and Paris - This is packed with 25 tracks from five different sessions between 1947 - ' 53, electric Django.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Complete, Vol. 17: 1949 la Mer - 40 tracks from the 1949 Rome sesseion with Grappelli

Complete 18: 1949-50 I'll Never Be the Same: A continuation of the 1949 session and the beginning Django in 1950.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

Django's  March 10, 1953, session of eight songs catches the master backed by a trio of piano, bass, and drums, one of a kind. 

The material from that legendary session is available on Nuages and the hard to find Peche a la Mouche.

Jazz - Guitar and Piano

 

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