Date: Jul 22nd, 2006 · Tags: Jazz Music Links

Louis Armstrong

Jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong remains one of the most loved and best known of all jazz musicians.

Roots of Jazz

Jazz has roots in the combination of Western and African music traditions, including spirituals, blues and ragtime.The word jazz itself is rooted in American slang, probably of sexual origin, although various alternative derivations have been suggested.

Origin of the Word (Jazz)

The word jazz was originally slang for sexual intercourse as its earliest musicians found employment in New Orleans brothel parlors, with the word deriving from the term ‘jass’. The term “jass” was rude sexual slang, related either to the term “jism” or to the jasmine perfume popular among urban prostitutes.

Jazz Musician Wynton Marsalis

Jazz is something Negroes invented, and it said the most profound things — not only about us and the way we look at things, but about what modern democratic life is really about. It is the nobility of the race put into sound … jazz has all the elements, from the spare and penetrating to the complex and enveloping. It is the hardest music to play that I know of, and it is the highest rendition of individual emotion in the history of Western music.

New Orleans “jass” style

New Orleans and the surrounding area had long been a regional music center. People from many different nations of Africa, Europe, and Latin America contributed to New Orleans’ rich musical heritage. The slave population of some colonies of what would later become the United States had the opportunity to express themselves culturally. In addition to the slave population, New Orleans also had North America’s largest community of free people of color, some of whom prided themselves on their education and used European instruments to play both European music and their own folk tunes.

Development of bebop

In the 1940s came with bebop the next major stylistic turn, led by such distinctive stylists as the saxophonist Charlie Parker (known as “Yardbird” or “Bird”), Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie. This marked a major shift of jazz from pop music for dancing to a high-art, less-accessible, cerebral “musician’s music.” Thelonious Monk, while too individual to be strictly a bebop musician.

Latin Jazz

Latin jazz has two varieties: Afro-Cuban and Brazilian. Afro-Cuban jazz was played in the U.S. directly after the bebop period, while Brazilian jazz became more popular in the 1960s and 1970s

Afro-Cuban jazz – influenced by such Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians as Tito Puente and, much later, Arturo Sandoval, there were many Americans who were drawing upon Cuban rhythms for their work.

Brazilian jazz – style which is derived from samba with influences from jazz as well as other 20th-century classical and popular music. Bossa is generally slow, played around 80 beats per minute or so. The music uses straight eighths, rather than swing eighths, and also uses difficult polyrhythms. The best-known bossa nova compositions are considered to be jazz standards in their own right.

Free jazz and avant-garde jazz

Free jazz and avant-garde jazz, are two partially overlapping subgenres that, while rooted in bebop.Both are often implied, utilized loosely, or abandoned altogether. These approaches were rather controversial when first advanced, but have generally found acceptance — though sometimes grudgingly — and have been utilized in part by other jazz performers. Avant-garde jazz has more “rules” than free jazz, performances being partly composed aforehead, but improvised parts are almost as free as in free jazz.

Avant-garde jazz and free jazz crystalized in the late 1950s, especially via Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, and probably found its greatest exposure in the late 1960s with John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders, Sam Rivers, Leroy Jenkins, Don Pullen,Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, William Parker, Derek Bailey and others.

Jazz Fusion

Fusion Jazz – is a musical genre that loosely encompasses the merging of jazz with other styles, particularly rock, funk, R&B, electronic music and world music. It basically involved jazz musicians mixing the forms and techniques of jazz with the electric instruments of rock, and rhythmic structure from African-American popular music, both “soul” and “rhythm and blues”.

Bitches Brew (1970) by Miles Davis is considered the most influential early fusion album.

Incorrect usage of the term jazz
Contrary to popular belief, it is not true that contemporary jazz is slowly evolving into pop music. This misunderstanding is caused by the tendency of calling alternative pop music jazz.

  • Although this music is indeed influenced by jazz, it would be incorrect to classify it as jazz. In most cases, the artists themselves acknowledge this, however, often the general audience is not aware of this.
  • Sometimes music entirely unrelated to jazz is said to be jazz. Well-known examples are James Blunt and Joss Stone. This incorrect naming can be caused by misinformed radio DJ’s, and record label promotors who use the term jazz to draw more attention to their artists. Another cause can be the artist performing at a jazz festival. It is becoming more and more accepted that non-jazz artists perform at these festivals. This can lead to the misconception that those artists are in fact jazz artists.

Jazz Quotes

Duke Ellington
– “By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.”

Wynton Marsalis
– “There is nothing but jazz.”

Konrad Stragier in a poem – “Jazz is not a ‘form’ but a collection of tags and tricks.”