Chord melody by Van Moretti

I believe an arrangement by Van Moretti has appeared in every issue of Just Jazz Guitar I have ever received. My philosophy has been that it is better to make up my own arrangements from the lead sheet of a tune because then it will perfectly suit the skill level I’m at and will make the most sense to me, both harmonically and technically. And as I get a bigger chordal vocabulary, the renditions of the tunes get better. The other thing I’ve been trying to do is play the tunes in their original keys.

It hasn’t been working out so good. I don’t spend nearly enough time, and I’ve been looking for a style of arranging for the guitar that fits where I’m at and how I want to play.

Some of the most intriguing arrangements are those of Robert Conti, who also has a tune in just about every issue of JJG. He does it all with chord grids above the staff, with melody notes below for reference (and with little rhythmic notation, as he encourages players to call upon their own interpretation in that regard). I especially like his reharmonizations, and he does have two books that focus on that subject. He no longer offers books of chord-melody arrangements, but the old JJGs are a good source.

Still, the Conti arrangements are not working so well for me at the moment. I can’t say I won’t go back to them. They have the aformentioned quality in their reharmonization, and they can also help with voice leading. But I just tried Moretti’s “More Than You Know,” and that sounds very nice. It’s in the key of C, which is a very easy key for guitar (right up there with A, G and D). The original is in Eb. Hmmm … don’t know what I think of that, but it is a very nice arrangement, and I can make the melody pop out of it right away. Sometimes it’s hard to make the melody come out of these chordal arrangements, especially if I’m not very familiar with the tune, but it was no trouble at all in this case.