Did Freddie Green always play the guitar chart "as written?"
Novice big band rhythm guitarists often attempt to play the guitar chart "exactly as written". In reality, a big band guitar chart is (in most cases) merely an outline indicating the chord changes and the form of the arrangement. It is the guitarist's responsibility to create an effective part based on the written chart.
The Count Basie Orchestra is featured on the DVD entitled "Live In Berlin & Stockholm 1968", Impro-Jazz DVD IJ-543. The Berlin portion was filmed November 9, 1968. One of the selections is "Magic Flea", a composition by Sammy Nestico, and is performed at the exceedingly brisk tempo of over 300 beats per minute! At this tempo, Freddie is working quite hard to play 5 down-strokes every second! To do so, he abandons his typical technique of playing beat 1 and beat 3 toward the neck, and beat 2 and beat 4 toward the bridge. Instead, all down-strokes are played in the same location, near the neck, using mostly wrist and very little arm.
Freddie can be seen during most of this 3"27" selection, and, as stated above, he does not play the guitar chart "exactly as written;" he creates his own part for "Magic Flea." Here is my analysis based on the video portion of the DVD.
Measures 1 - 10:
Measures 11 - 17:
Letter A (16 measures) / Letter B (16 measures):
Letter C (16 measures):
Letter D (20 measures):
Letters E, F, G, H (64 measures):
Letters I, J (36 measures):
Letter K (32 measures):
Letter L (30 measures)
Note: The reader might ask why an image of the "Magic Flea" guitar part does not accompany this article as it would certainly enhance understanding. "Magic Flea" was composed in 1968 and is covered by international copyright, therefore including an electronic image of the chart could be interpreted as a violation of copyright law.