The most important thing you can do to improve your skills as a soloist is to find (and start collecting) short chord melody pieces that you can perform in-time from beginning to end. To help you get started I have posted here a very basic chord melody arrangement of the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves”.
“Autumn Leaves” is the first chord melody that many guitarist learn. This is probably because it consists of very short melodic phrases strung in between very regular block chords. Nearly every single chord in this short piece occurs on beat “1” of a measure, which greatly simplifies the “juggling” aspect of things.
Most of these chords are 7th chords in the key of Em. If you haven’t already done so, before attempting this piece you should spend time familiarizing yourself with the basic set of 7th chords [ 7, m7, Maj7 & m7b5 ]. For those already familiar with the construction of 7th chords, (and their inversions) you will find these chord changes are really very straightforward.
If you’ve never heard it before, it would also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the melody of this song. Nat King Cole performed an excellent rendition on his television show in 1957:
I’ve also posted a recording of me playing this piece so that you can see and hear how its supposed to go:
OK? Good luck. If you have any questions or comments please email me. And stay tuned for the next tune!