Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz Guitar 101

by | Comping, Latin Jazz

Think about this scenario…If on a gig the band leader calls out, say “Autumn Leaves” as a bossa, usually there is no problem on behalf of most guitarists. On the other hand, if he calls out “Autumn Leaves” in Afro-Cuban style (also referred to as Latin jazz), I bet you 9 out of 10 guitarists will freeze on the spot! Did you know that Latin Jazz was the very first jazz fusion? It took place around the same time as bebop was being developed when both Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker started sitting in with the Machito Orchestra. So here’s my question… If these rhythms were worthy of special attention from the architects of bebop, shouldn’t not just pianists but more of us guitarists also consider incorporating them into our playing? In this long overdue lesson I’d like to share with you the fundamentals of playing Afro Cuban Jazz from a guitar perspective. This is the result of my experience throughout the 90’s, recording and performing with some of the greatest artists in Latin jazz. Among them, Paquito D’Rivera, Carlos Averhoff (Irakere), Ignacio Berroa (Dizzy Gillespie), Alex Acuna (Weather Report), Sammy Figueroa (Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins), Danilo Perez (Wayne Shorter) and many more! Throughout the video, I explain in detail, the Clave and Montuno…the 2 concepts we must understand in order to play this music. But most important of all, I show you how to adapt them to the guitar, and a apply them to any jazz standard, both when soloing and comping! If you want to incorporate Latin Jazz into your playing, this lesson is filled with valuable information, most of which you won’t find elsewhere! So be sure to check it out…


The “Afro-Cuban Jazz Guitar 101” lesson files, can be downloaded for $11.00. The download includes the following files:  PDFs with both regular notation and detailed TAB for 30 montuno and comping examples and an etude using them over “Autumn Leaves”, MP3s and Band in a Box files of everything, and also Midi files if you rather practice using  “Guitar Pro” or the free downloadable notation app: “Muse Score”.

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  1. Duncan Herring

    This is an incredible lesson about adding jazz guitar work to Afro-Cuban music. There is a huge amount of material here, even though, as Richie says, it just scratches the surface of the subject of Afro-Cuban Latin jazz guitar. It will take some time to understand everything that he has presented this week; and to get it in our ears and under our fingers; but this effort will certainly be very worthwhile. And, yes, Richie, more lessons on Afro-Cuban Latin jazz guitar would certainly be something I would love to see, hear, and eventually begin to play.

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