Johnny Smith Chord Grips

For this lesson, there is a PDF chart showing a load of awesome Johnny Smith Chord Grips like the ones he uses in Moonlight In Vermont. Download it and then see my notes below on each chord. Any questions, drop them below in the comments.

Starting from the top line of the chart we have:

Major 6
Close Voice. Oh, this grip is so tasty, the closeness of the 5 and 6 makes for a really nice dissonance.

Minor 7
Close Voice. This one is pretty stretchy when you get down near the nut, but up high it's not soo nasty!

Minor 7
This grip with the b7 in the bass is a big stretch but sounds lovely. Before seeing this I hadn't really thought much about popping the b7 in the bass, but it sounds sweet in this chord melody style!

Minor 9
At first glance, this looks a bit like Major 7 grip in root position, but it's functioning as a Minor 9 with the b3 in the bass. Very classy!

13
This is COOL. Taking the previous Minor 9 grip and dropping the note on string 3 down a semitone to get this delicious 13 chord - genius!

7
This is a seriously stretchy 7 chord! Really Johnny, did you have to? ;) sounds awesome though eh!

9#11
Taking the previous 7th grip and moving the first finger up a tone gets us this nice 9#11 chord, very nice movement and of course very useful in a chord melody situation.

7
Another stretchy 7 with the 3rd in the bass and the b7 as the top note.

Minor 11
I'd never played this grip before learning Moonlight In Vermont, so cool. Having the b3 in the bass and not having the root present was a little confusing at first look, but using my ears to hear the root helped me realize the genius of this little II-V move.

13b9
After that super cool Minor 11, one note goes up and another goes down and you get this wonderful 13b9 grip which was familiar with from other players like Joe Pass but in the context of the II-V in MIV, and the way it resolved back to that super stretchy 6 chord (the first one in this chart) is sublime.

11
This grip is a triad over a bass note a tone higher, very common vibe for 11 chords and sounds cool.

C Major, Open Position
And after all the complex finger stretching, the last chord in Johnny's arrangement of Moonlight In Vermont is a plain ol' Open C chord - and it sounds PERFECT :)

Mix them in!

I would suggest getting your fingers around these grips and then try working them into your own arrangements of some jazz standards - learning Moonlight In Vermont is for sure a cool thing to check out too (and a fun challenge) but there is benefit from working on them in other situations too.

Jazz 4: Harmony & Concepts

- LESSON STEPS -