Freddie Green

Freddie Green (1911 - 1987), “Freddy Green”, “Mr. Rhythm”, the steady and sophisticated big band rhythm guitarist of Count Basie Orchestra for nearly 50 years. Famous for his four-to-the-bar beat accompaniment, playing a full block chord on each beat, and with clockwork precision. The pulsating sound of his comping was a defining characteristic of the Count Basie Band 1).

In jazz comping, four-to-the-bar is often contrasted with charleston_rhythm.

The Freddie Green comping style

The four-to-the-bar beat - big band rhythm guitar - strumming on every beat, often with a different chord on each beat, and voicings consisting in shell chords - that is, root (or fifth or flat five), and the third and the seventh (or sixth), and with no extensions. He played with his thumb to get a warm and rich sound.

It's still commonly used in jazz when comping over a 12_bar_blues.

To learn this style, one should obviously listen to Freddie Green, and other jazz guitarists that excelled in this style, like Eddie Lang, Lonnie Johnson (listen to I Can't Give You Anything But Love), and Django Reinhardt.

Here are some examples of the type of voicings used.

ALL OF ME - in the Freddie Green comping style

ALL OF ME - Freddie Green Comping 1, click the image to view a larger image. ALL OF ME - Freddie Green Comping 2, click the image to view a larger image. ALL OF ME - Freddie Green Comping 3, click the image to view a larger image.

Freddie Green style blues comping

Here is an excellent example from “Mel Bay's Guitar Journals - Jazz

If you liked the book, buy it! (PS: is not in any way, shape or form affiliated with Google Books, Mel Bay or the author of this book!)

Check out Freddie Green Web Site - “devoted to jazz rhythm guitar and the man who epitomized the big band guitar style”.

  • The Freddie Green Web Site - is dedicated to the master of the rhythm guitar - Freddie Green - and exists to collect and share information that will aid the big band jazz guitarist in keeping this style alive and well. Musicians, scholars, and Freddie Green fans from around the world continue to collaborate in assembling technical explanations, transcriptions, historical information, and photos for this on-line resource.
  • Freddie Green - Mr. Rhythm Remembered by Jim Ferguson at The Freddie Green Web Site

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The successors of Freedie Green in Count Basie Orchestra, was Charlton Johnson (from 1987), and Will Matthews (from 1996).