Hey there fellow guitar player!
I just wanted to give you some info about myself so that you know a little about me and my background.
So, what’s my story?
I’ve been playing and listing to jazz music for a long time. In middle school, I started playing the drums pretty much on a whim. My cousin was playing the drums in his high school band and I thought that was really cool. He let me play his drum kit whenever I came over his house. He was listening to a lot of jazz and that got me listening to a lot of jazz music as well. Once I got to high school, I had decided that drums was my main instrument and ended up playing in the high school band for all 4 years — two of those years I played in the jazz band.
I also played a little in college, but soon realized that lugging drums around was not fun at all!!. So, sometime during my sophomore year in college, I sold my drum kit.
Interestingly enough, while I listened to jazz a lot, I didn’t get interested in playing another instrument until many years later —sometime in 1998 after I heard this guy Norman Brown on a smooth jazz record. I couldn’t get enough of this guy’s playing! What an amazing player! Funny though, it wasn’t until about 2 years later sometime in 2000 that I just went down to my local Guitar Center store and bought a cheap strat knock off. I figured I’d just mess around and try to play along with some records. Little did I know that jazz guitar would become such an important part of my life. I’ve been playing jazz guitar now for about 10 or so years and rarely has as day gone by when I haven’t picked the guitar.
As some of you folks already know, I still love Norman Brown’s playing. But I soon discovered many amazing players over time such as Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Joe Pass, Barney Kessell, Herb Ellis and many more. I would say though that Norman, Wes, and George are my top three influences. So, don’t be surprised if you see and hear a lot of references to their playing on my website!
Now, I’m basically a self-taught player but I’ve learned every way I could. From other players, listening to records, transcribing, and many guitar books. It has been exciting but it’s also been a real challenge! When I really started getting into jazz guitar, I couldn’t believe the sheer amount of information there was about playing this instrument. It seemed like every book that I bought was espousing a different way to learn how to play this instrument.
You see with jazz guitar, there’s the challenge of just learning how the fretboard is organized. That alone can take years to master if you don’t have a system in place. Then there’s the challenge of improvisation on the guitar. Not only do you have to learn what to play as in how to play certain sounds over certain chords, you have to know how to play in a way that sounds like jazz. Combine that with trying to manage what fingerings to use and you’ve got a major, major undertaking. This is exactly why most guitarists just give up or just relegate themselves to being mediocre. Well, I didn’t want to be mediocre. I wanted to be better than that. So, I kept on moving towards my goal.
I’ve learned a lot along the way and I truly believe that this journey has made me into a better person. Some of my fears have been challenged. I’ve become a more confident person. I’ve learned more about handling failure. And surprisingly, I’ve become more successful in other areas of my life.
So was it worth it? Absolutely! I wouldn’t change a thing!
The great thing is that now I get to help others learn jazz guitar.
Even though it’s been a challenge, I want to give others some of the insight that I’ve gained throughout the years. I know that I’ll be playing jazz guitar for the rest of my life. That’s how passionate I am about this instrument. And I hope that it comes through on my website.
Understand this: If you want to become a better player, and you’re willing to do what it takes to succeed, you can become a solid jazz guitar player As you read above, my background was not unusual. I didn’t pick up the guitar when I was 2 years old. Just 10 years ago was the first time that I ever tried to play a guitar. Even if you are a new to playing jazz guitar believe me you can accomplish more that you ever thought possible if you simply work consistently and diligently towards your goal.
I’m looking forward to helping you become a better player! So stay tuned to my website.
Leon Henderson Rountree III
Smooth Jazz Guitar Solo in F with Tab and Jam Track
Solo on “Just Friends” with Tab and Jam Track