International Jazz Day - Learn Some Jazz Guitar!

Keep your ears open this weekend – you may just hear some saints marching in! Why? Because April 30th is International Jazz Day, of course. As educators in music, this is one holiday we’d never miss. But what is Jazz Day, and how did it begin?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated the day in 2011 to promote peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity. The celebration of International Jazz Day involves various global events, including concerts, educational programs, workshops, and other community events that promote jazz music and its cultural significance.

Musicians from all over the world come together to participate in this event and share their unique perspectives on jazz. This year, American jazz pianist, Herbie Hancock will hosting a global concert series for International Jazz Day. The celebration will feature performances from jazz stars such as Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride and many more.

How Will You Celebrate International Jazz Day?

Here at JamPlay, we’re celebrating all genres of guitar playing every day… including jazz! If you don’t know much about jazz, or have been curious to learn how to play it, today’s a great day to start. One thing to know about jazz guitar is that, as a guitar player in a jazz band, your job 90% of the time will be playing rhythm, or “comping.” So, let’s look at a few free jazz comping lessons you can use to get started on your jazz guitar journey!

Lear 4-Note Jazz Chords!


One of the hallmarks of jazz music is its ubiquitous use of the 7th in chords. If you’re not familiar with what 7th chords are, read in-depth about them by clicking here. Essentially, the fourth note we are adding to our chords is the seventh scale degree in relation to the root of the chords we are playing. Adding these notes to our chords adds dissonance. In jazz, this is not a frightening term! In fact dissonance is used to add texture and emotional complexity to jazz chord progressions.

But, do we always need all 4 notes? The answer is NO!

In this lesson, Marcelo Berestovoy explains how to play cleaner jazz chords by omitting unnecessary notes. This may seem counterintuitive to the previous lesson, but hear us out. Especially when playing in a band setting, playing a root, third, fifth, and seventh in each chord can sound… muddy. After all, you’ll be accompanying other harmonic instruments and soloists who are playing busy melodies.

This International Jazz Day, learn your first jazz chord progression!

Now that you’re more familiar with how jazz chords work, let’s learn a progression with Marcelo! In jazz and blues, it’s very common to play the ii-V-I (or, 2-5-1) progression. This means we’re playing the minor 2 chord, followed by the major 5, and major 1 chords. Marcelo even reveals an interesting alternative way to resolve this chord progression.

If you want to watch more jazz guitar lessons from Marcelo, check out his full course on JamPlay. Between practice breaks, don’t forget to wish your musician friends a Happy International Jazz Day this Sunday!

For more Jazz Guitar Lessons, check out! JamPlay has over 450 guitar courses from 120+ instructors, and online guitar lessons tailored to every skill level, music genre, and playing style. Click here to learn more.

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