Freddie Green Style: Other Resources


Swing and Big Band Guitar: Four-to-the-Bar Comping in the Style of Freddie Green
Book and CD by Charlton Johnson.
Published by Hal Leonard Corporation.

Many players agree that this is the definitive manual for learning the essential voicings and approach for big band rhythm guitar.

Rhythm Guitar the Ranger Doug Way
Author: Ranger Doug Green with Suze Spencer Marshall
Publisher: Centerstream Publications LLC, Anaheim Hills, California 92817 USA
Distributed by: Hal Leonard Corporation.
ISBN: 1-57424-204-0
Copyright: 2006

Ranger Doug Green of Riders In The Sky is a superb rhythm guitarist, a scholar, and a gentleman. A leading authority on the history of Cowboy and Western music, he is also a historian of swing rhythm guitar and of vintage Stromberg guitars. Ranger Doug's book is divided into two parts. The opening section of the book covers the history of rhythm guitar, rhythm guitar theory, right hand use, chord forms, archtop guitars, and additional resources about rhythm guitar technique. The concluding section contains 27 tunes, including jazz standards, Western swing standards, and even a polka. Each tune is a transcription of Ranger Doug's typical chord voicings. Highly recommended.

Academic Papers:

Freddie Green: A Musical Analysis of the Guitar in the Count Basie Rhythm Section
A THESIS by Matt G. Buttermann submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music in Jazz Performance in the College of Arts and Communication, William Paterson University, May 2009.

"An Analysis of Freddie Green's Style and His Importance in the History of Jazz Guitar"
Ph.D. dissertation by Lewis Hay Dickert, Jr. This 328 page paper can be purchased from ProQuest Information & Learning. Dr. Dickert's 1994 dissertation contains a great deal of information about Freddie Green's life, his music, and his playing style. It is a key document in the study of Freddie Green. However, the main contributors of this website have reviewed the 40-plus recording transcriptions in this dissertation. Many have inaccuracies, most notably incorrect chord voicings. As a service to our visitors, we have posted the transcriptions that are relatively accurate; all others have been removed from

Instructional Videos:

Basic Jazz Rhythm Guitar: Comping in the Freddie Green Style
Format: DVD and Fingering Chart
Author: Corey Christiansen
Publisher: Mel Bay
Product Number: 20365DP
ISBN: 0786668423
Price US$9.95

The description from the Mel Bay web site reads: "Every jazz guitarist needs to be familiar with the accompaniment style of Freddie Green. Freddie Green was the guitarist for the Count Basie orchestra for decades and his sound and comping technique were defining aspects of this legendary group. Four-to-the-bar strumming, essential chord voicings and voice leading ideas are covered in this informative DVD and accompanying chart. A must have for any aspiring rhythm guitarist."

Michael Pettersen comments: Based on the excerpts posted on the Mel Bay web site, this DVD appears to be yet another publication that claims Freddie Green primarily used three note chord voicings. While I agree that the three note voicings documented on this DVD are important for every rhythm guitarist, these voicings do not accurately document the rhythm guitar technique of Freddie Green. My criticism is that the publication title "Comping in the Freddie Green Style" perpetuates the myth that Freddie Green primarily employed standard three note voicings on strings 6, 4, and 3. It is misleading to purport that three note voicings allow one to comp in the style of Freddie Green. If this DVD had been entitled "Basic Jazz Rhythm Guitar: Comping using Three Note Voicings", I would not have written this critique.

I contacted the author, Corey Christiansen, via email. He was unaware of the Freddie Green website and consequently was not cognizant of the site's numerous resources before the making of this DVD primer.

Please refer to the Lessons and Techniques section of this website to find numerous technical articles and transcriptions of Freddie's voicings.

"Ray Benson: Western Swing Guitar"
Among other techniques and player's styles, Ray "dissects Freddie Green's comping and damping methods". The video was produced by Homespun Video and is available from JK Lutherie.

Note: I have purchased and viewed this video. It is an excellent introduction to Western Swing Guitar which is Mr. Benson's forte.  The Freddie Green portion is 5 minutes of the 80 minute tape. Mr. Benson certainly understands the gist of Freddie's playing.  However, Mr. Benson's comments on playing like Freddie Green do not align with my research. To my ears, the chord voicings recommended and playing examples do not sound like Freddie's recorded legacy; though Mr. Benson's examples would certainly work well in many rhythm guitar settings. - Michael Pettersen

"Ranger Doug Rides The Rhythm Range"
Copyright 2000 VHS/NTSC format
Available from: Too Slim's Mercantile; 1921 Broadway; Nashville TN 37203 USA
Telephone - 615-321-3820; Fax - 615-321-3862;

"Ranger" Doug Green is the superb rhythm guitarist with the western swing band Riders In The Sky. This informal, yet very informative, instructional video tape is highly recommended. Ranger Doug covers fundamental left hand chord voicings and right hand strumming techniques. He also clearly demonstrates essential left hand muting techniques required for playing swing rhythm guitar.

My only criticism is that the included printed chord charts have five errors:

  1. A G7+5 voicing is incorrectly named G aug.

  2. The Dm6 voicing has the finger dots positioned incorrectly on the 1st and 2nd strings. Both need to be moved up one fret.

  3. The G6 voicing has the finger dots positioned incorrectly on the 2nd and 3rd strings. Both need to be moved up one fret.

  4. A G/B bass voicing is incorrectly named G/A bass.

  5. The C/E bass voicing has the word "side" in the middle of fingerboard, for no apparent reason.

And for us Freddie Green fans, Ranger Doug plays a Stromberg archtop guitar similar to Freddie's. This video tape provides the rare opportunity to closely observe and learn from an extraordinary rhythm guitarist. - Michael Pettersen

Performance Videos:

"Count Basie: Live in '62"
Jazz Icons
Running time: 56 minutes
Released in 2006

This black and white program was recorded in Sweden, on April 24, 1962; the video and the audio are superb. It documents a swinging live peformance by the Basie band that took place in a television studio with an audience.  The eleven tunes on this video are: Easin' It; You Are Too Beautiful; Corner Pocket; Stella By Starlight; Back To The Apple; I Needs To Be Bee'd With; I Got Rhythm; Backwater Blues; Alexander's Ragtime Band; Ol' Man River; One O'Clock Jump. Freddie can be clearly seen in multiple sections of the program, and his guitar parts are often audible enough to be transcribed. Note the frantically fast "Ol' Man River" where he plays two to the bar, instead of the usual four.  Drummer Sonny Payne's showmanship is quite entertaining for the audience, though Freddie does not appear to be amused. This DVD is highly recommended for anyone that never experienced the Basie band in person. Included is a 16 page booklet with rare photos and informative liner notes by Basie scholar, Chris Sheridan.

"Count Basie - Swingin' The Blues"
BMG Video
VHS - 80064-3
Laser Disc - 80064
Running time: 58 minutes
To purchase: In the United States, call 800-846-8742; or
This video recounts the story of William Basie from his roots through 50 years as the leader of the Basie band. See performance clips from the late 1930's through the 1970's. Includes clips of Basie himself as well as on-camera interviews with Basie alumni like Joe Williams, Sweet Edison, and Earle Warren. Freddie Green is seen playing in multiple sequences, but is not interviewed.

"Count Basie - Live in Berlin 1968"
Green Line Video
Vidjazz 6
Recording Date: November 9, 1968
Running time: 49 minutes (black and white)
To purchase:
The Basie band plays 13 tunes. Freddie Green is easy to hear and can be seen in many sequences.

"Count Basie - In Concert Zurich 1959, Newport 1961"
Green Line Video
Vidjazz 17
Recording Dates: February 6, 1959; July 8, 1962
Running time: 49 minutes (black and white)
To purchase:
The Basie band plays 9 tunes. Freddie Green can be heard and seen on the seven tunes from Zurich. Buy this video to hear and see Freddie featured on the introduction to "Cute". This introduction was transcribed by L.H. Dickert for his PhD dissertation on Freddie Green, and independently by Michael Pettersen for his Down Beat article on Freddie Green. The two tunes from Newport are disappointing as Freddie is hidden from the camera by the piano.

"Count Basie - Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual"
Rhino Home Video
VHS - R3 2582
Running time: 30 minutes
To purchase:

This video was first aired on May 6, 1966 and features Count Basie playing in a quartet with Freddie Green, Norman Keenan (bass), and Sonny Payne (drums). Eight tunes are played that total 16' 55". The remaining time consists of conversation between Basie and host Ralph Gleason. The liner notes state "As always, the heartbeat of the Basie organization, Freddie Green, is by his (Basie's) side." This is perhaps the best video to study Freddie's technique. Not only can his guitar be heard easily, but there are many shots where his right hand and his left hand are clearly seen. Highly recommended.

Count Basie and his Orchestra: Whirly-bird
Vintage Jazz Classics Video
VHS #VJC-2005
Running time: 45 minutes
Released in 1993

This black and white video was recorded in London, England, on September 18, 1965. It documents a swinging live peformance by the Basie band that took place in a television studio. The ten tunes on this video are: All Of Me; Flight Of The Foo Birds; The Midnight Sun Never Sets; Blues For Jean; Jumpin' At The Woodside; I Needs To Be Bee'd With; April In Paris; Li'l Darlin'; Whirly-bird; One O'Clock Jump. Freddie is seated in front of the drums and can be clearly seen during most of the video, though his guitar parts are not audible enough to be transcribed. This video is highly recommended for anyone that never experienced the Basie band in person.

"Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra"
Image Entertainment
DVD, in color
Running time: 51 minutes

This DVD is a live concert of Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra. The program is dedicated to the memory of Freddie Green; it was recorded shortly before his death in 1987. Freddie is seen playing throughout most of the program as he was seated next to Diane Schuur and was often within camera view. There are also high quality close-ups of Freddie playing in many of the songs.

The Judy Garland Show - Vol. 2
Broadcast Date: Nov. 10, 1963
Format: DVD Black & White
Length:120 minutes
Pioneer Artists PA-99-617D

In the 1990's, video tapes of the Judy Garland Show were discovered in the basement of an elderly woman. Performing with Judy Garland on this DVD are Count Basie and his Orchestra, as well as Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Terry Thomas, Judy Henske, and Jerry Van Dyke. There are several short clips of Freddie Green playing throughout the show. Freddie is more audible on some songs than others.

"The Seven Lively Arts presents The Sound of Jazz"
Originally broadcast from CBS Studio 58
Vintage Jazz Classics Video
VHS #VJC-2001-4
Running time: 58 minutes
Released in 1990

This black and white television program was recorded in New York, on Sunday, December 8, 1957. It documents a live peformance by leading jazz performers of the time. Freddie Green plays in the Count Basie All-Star Orchestra consisting of then current Basie players, Basie alumni, and other jazz stars of 1957. This band plays three arrangements: "Open All Night"; "I Left My Baby" (with singer Jimmy Rushing); and "Dickie's Dream". There are brief sections where the camera focuses solely on Freddie, and several other sections where he can be seen playing in the background. His guitar is always audible and there are short segments clear enough to be transcribed.

The other portions on this video are also interesting: a performance by the Thelonious Monk Trio; a performance by Billie Holiday backed by a band that includes Lester Young; a performance by the Jimmy Guiffre Trio with a young Jim Hall on guitar; and guitarist Danny Barker plays on four tunes providing an instructive comparision of his rhythm guitar technique to Freddie's.

If you have any comments about any of the resources mentioned here,
or have other resources to suggest, please contact us.

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