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Jazz: The American Music

"Jazz is a good barometer of freedom. In

its beginnings, the United States
spawned certain ideals of freedom and
independence through which,
eventually, jazz was evolved, and the
music is so free that many people say
it is the only unhampered, unhindered
expression of complete freedom
yet produced in this country."
Duke Ellington

What a Wonderful World Louis Armstrong

Historical and Cultural Perspectives

Origins of the word jazz
African-American Roots

Confluence of African and European Music Traditions
Jazz is a musical art form which originated at the beginning of the 20 th
century in African American communities in the Southern United States
from a mingling of African and European music traditions. The styles
West African influence is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation,
polyrhythms, syncopation and the swung note. (Wikipedia)

Jazz is a "form of art music which originated in the United States

through the confrontation of blacks with European music jazz differs
from European music in that jazz has a special relationship to time,
defined as 'swing', a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in
which improvisation plays a role; and sonority and manner of phrasing
which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician. Thus,
improvisation is clearly one of the key elements in jazz. Jazz Critic
Joachim Berendt

Word Origins
The word jazz began as a West Coast slang
term of uncertain derivation. The earliest known
references to jazz are in the sports pages of
various West Coast newspapers covering the
Pacific Coast League, a baseball minor league:
Ben Henderson, Portland Beavers, 1912. BEN'S
JAZZ CURVE. "I got a new curve this year," softly
murmured Henderson yesterday, "and I'm goin' to
pitch one or two of them tomorrow. I call it the Jazz
ball because it wobbles and you simply can't do
anything with it."

The first musical reference to jazz was in Chicago

about 1915 as found in the Chicago Daily Tribune
on July 11, 1915:
Blues Is Jazz and Jazz Is Blues . . . The Worm had
turned--turned to fox trotting. And the "blues" had done
it. The "jazz" had put pep into the legs that had
scrambled too long for the 5:15. . . . At the next place a
young woman was keeping "Der Wacht Am Rhein" and
"Tipperary Mary" apart when the interrogator entered.
"What are the blues?" he asked gently. "Jazz!" The
young woman's voice rose high to drown the
piano. . . . The blues are never written into music, but
are interpolated by the piano player or other players.
They aren't new. They are just reborn into popularity.
They started in the south half a century ago and are
the interpolations of darkies originally. The trade name
for them is "jazz."

The first known use in New Orleans, discovered

by lexicographer Benjamin Zimmer in 2009,
appeared in the New Orleans Times-Picayune
on Nov. 14, 1916:
Theatrical journals have taken cognizance of the "jas
bands" and at first these organizations of syncopation
were credited with having originated in Chicago, but
any one ever having frequented the "tango belt" of
New Orleans knows that the real home of the "jas
bands" is right here. However, it remains for the
artisans of the stage to give formal recognition to the
"jas bands" of New Orleans.

African/American Roots

Modern Day Congo Square

By 1808 the Atlantic slave trade had brought

almost half a million Africans to the United
States. The slaves largely came from West
Africa and brought strong tribal musical
traditions with them.

Lavish festivals featuring African dances to

drums were organized on Sundays at Place
Congo, or Congo Square, in New Orleans
until 1843.

African music was largely functional, for work

or ritual, and included work songs and field
hollers. The African tradition made use of a
single-line melody and call-and-response
pattern, but without the European concept of
harmony. Rhythms reflected African speech
patterns, and the African use of pentatonic
scales led to blue notes in blues and jazz.

Congo Square Dancers

Drumming Ensemble

In the early 19th century an increasing number

of black musicians learned to play European
instruments, particularly the violin, which they
used to parody European dance music in their
own cakewalk dances.
In turn, European-American minstrel show
performers in blackface popularized such music
internationally, combining syncopation with
European harmonic accompaniment.
Another influence came from black slaves who
had learned the harmonic style of hymns and
incorporated it into their own music as spirituals.

Compendium of Jazz Styles

and Performers

1890s to 1910s
The abolition of slavery in 1865 led to new opportunities for the
education of freed African-Americans, though strict segregation
limited employment opportunities for most blacks. However, blacks
were able to find work as entertainmers in dances, minstrel shows,
and in vaudeville. Black pianists also played in bars, clubs, and
brothels, as ragtime developed.

New Orleans Dixieland

Origins and Style
Ragtime (alternately spelled Ragged-time) is an originally
American musical genre which enjoyed its peak popularity
between 1897 and 1918.
Its main characteristic trait is its syncopated, or "ragged",
It began as dance music in the red-light districts of American
cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans years before being
published as popular sheet music for piano.
Ragtime fell out of favor as Jazz claimed the public's imagination
after 1917, but there have been numerous revivals since as the
music has been re-discovered.

Proponents: Joseph Lamb, James Scott, Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin (1868 1917)

Maple Leaf Rag
Joplin was an African-American and pianist, born near
Texarkana, Texas into the first post-slavery generation.
He achieved fame for his unique ragtime compositions,
and was dubbed the "King of Ragtime."
During his brief career, he wrote forty-four original
ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas.
Joplin died at age 48 and his music was mostly forgotten
by all but a small, dedicated community of ragtime
aficionados until the major ragtime revival in the early
In 1976 Joplin was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer

Aeolian Player Piano

Aeolian Company, founded in 1878,
developed the player piano, a self-playing
piano, containing a pneumatic or electromechanical mechanism that plays on the
piano action pre-programmed music via
perforated paper rolls.
Ragtime became a favorite selection for
the player piano

Aeolian Player Piano

Player Roll


Origins and Style

Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre created within
the African-American communities in the Deep South of the United States at the
end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and
chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.
The first appearance of the blues is not well defined and is often dated after the
Emancipation Act in 1863, between 1870 and 1900.
This period corresponds to the transition from slavery to sharecropping, smallscale agricultural production and the expansion of railroads in the southern
United States.
Several scholars characterize the early 1900s development of blues music as a
move from group performances to a more individualized style.
The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the AfroAmerican community, the spirituals.
When the blues appeared, before blues gained its formal definition in terms of
chord progressions, the blues was defined as the secular counter part of the

The blues form is characterized by
the use of specific chord progressions the
twelve-bar chord progressions being the most
frequently encountered
blue notes sung or played for expressive purposes
and distinguished by the use of the flattened third,
fifth and seventh of the associated major scale.
Chords played over a twelve-bar

Chords for a blues in C:

I or IV


C or






V or

I or V

G or

C or

The traditional blues verse was probably a
single line, repeated four times.
It was only later that the current, most
common structure of a line, repeated once
and then followed by a single line conclusion,
became standard, the so-called AAB pattern.

Jelly Roll Morton, Robert Johnson, Blind Boy
Fuller, Gertrude Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith
(1892 1937)
The Empress of the
Major influence on
subsequent jazz
Baby Wont You
Please Come Home

New Orleans Dixieland

Origins and Style

Dixieland is an early style of jazz that developed in New Orleans and it
is the earliest recorded style of jazz music.
The style combined earlier brass band marches, French Quadrilles,
ragtime and blues with collective, polyphonic improvisation.
The "standard" band consists of a "front line" of trumpet, trombone, and
clarinet, with a rhythm section" of at least two of the following
instruments: guitar or banjo, string bass or tuba, piano and drums.
The definitive Dixieland sound is created when one instrument (usually
the trumpet) plays the melody or a recognizable paraphrase or variation
on it, and the other instruments of the "front line" improvise around that
melody. This creates a more polyphonic sound.
The swing era of the 1930s led to the end of many Dixieland Jazz
musicians' careers.

Proponents: King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Original Dixieland Jass

Band, Louis Armstrong

Louis Daniel Armstrong

(1901 1971)
Nicknamed Satchmo
or Pops
American jazz
trumpeter and singer
Foundational influence
on jazz was to shift
musics focus from
improvisation to solo

All-Star Band

Dream a Little Dream

Hello Dolly

When the Saints Go Marching In

1920s and 1930s



Prohibition in the United States (from 1920 to 1933)
banned the sale of alcoholic drinks, resulting in illicit
speakeasies becoming lively venues of the Jazz
Jazz started to get a reputation as being immoral and
many members of the older generations saw it as
threatening the old values in culture and promoting
the new decadent values of the Roaring 20s.
While New Orleans remained an important jazz
center, Chicago became the main center during this

Precursors and Influences of Big Band Swing

Bix Beiderbecke formed The Wolverines in 1924.
Therell Come a Time


The Wolverines

Also in 1924, Louis Armstrong joined the Fletcher Henderson

Dance Band and then formed his virtuosic Hot Five Band.


Fletcher Henderson
Dance Band
Variety Stomp

Hot Five Band

Jelly Roll Morton recorded with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings
in an early mixed-race collaboration, then in 1926 formed his
Red Hot Peppers.

(1890 1941)

There was a larger market for jazzy dance music played by

white orchestras, such as Paul Whitemans orchestra. In 1924
Whiteman commissioned Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which
was premired by Whiteman's Orchestra.

(1890 1967)

Paul Whiteman Orchestra

George Gershwin (1898 1937)

Rhapsody in Blue

Other influential large ensembles included Duke Ellingtons band

(which opened an influential residency at the Cotton Club in
1927) in New York, and Earl Hines Band in Chicago. All these
performers and ensembles significantly influenced Big Band

Duke Ellington
(1899 1974)

Duke Ellington Band

Cotton Club
New York City

Earl Hines
(1903 1983)

Grand Terrace Caf


Earl Hines Band

The 1930s belonged to popular swing big bands, in which some
virtuoso soloists became as famous as the band leaders.
Swing was also dance music. It was broadcast on the radio 'live'
nightly across America for many years especially by Hines and
his Grand Terrace Cafe Orchestra broadcasting coast-to-coast
from Chicago. Although it was a collective sound, swing also
offered individual musicians a chance to 'solo' and improvise
melodic, thematic solos which could at times be very complex.
Over time, social strictures regarding racial segregation began to
relax in America: white bandleaders began to recruit black
musicians and black bandleaders white ones.

Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey,
Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Earl Hines,
Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Louis Armstrong

Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey

(1905 1956)
(1904 1957)

Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

Tommy Dorsey Opus One

Harry James
(1916 1983)

Harry James Orchestra and Frank Sinatra


Artie Shaw
(1910 2004)


Artie Shaw Orchestra

Glenn Miller
(1904 1944)

Glen Miller Orchestra

Sing, Sing, Sing

In the Mood

Beginnings of European Jazz

Outside of the United States the
beginnings of a distinct European style of
jazz emerged in France with the Quintette
du Hot Club de France which began in

Belgian guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt (1910 1953)

popularized gypsy jazz, a mix of 1930s American swing,
French dance hall musette" and Eastern European folk
with a languid, seductive feel. The main instruments are
steel stringed guitar, violin, and double bass. Solos pass
from one player to another as the guitar and bass play
the role of the rhythm section.

Jattendrai Swing, 1959

Dark Eyes

1940s and 1950s




Hard Bop
Modal Jazz
Free Jazz

Dixieland Revival

In the late 1930s there was a revival of Dixieland" music, harkening

back to the original contrapuntal New Orleans style. This was driven
in large part by record company reissues of early jazz classics by
the Oliver, Morton, and Armstrong bands of the 1930s.
There were two populations of musicians involved in the revival.
One group consisted of players who had begun their careers playing
in the traditional style, and were either returning to it, or continuing
what they had been playing all along, such as Bob Crosbys
Bobcats, Max Kaminsky, Eddie Condon, and Wild Bill Davison. Most
of these groups were originally Midwesterners, although there were
a small number of New Orleans musicians involved.
The second population of revivalists consisted of young musicians
such as the Lu Watters Band. By the late 1940s, Louis Armstrongs
All-Stars Band became a leading ensemble. Through the 1950s and
1960s, Dixieland was one of the most commercially popular jazz
styles in the US, Europe, and Japan, although critics paid little
attention to it.

Bob Crosby
(1913 1993)
Jazz Me Blues

The Bob Cats

Lu Watters
(1911 1989)

Lu Watters Band
Love Me or Leave Me


Origins and Style

In the early 1940s bebop performers helped to shift jazz from danceable popular
music towards a more challenging "musician's music." Differing greatly from
swing, early bebop divorced itself from dance music, establishing itself more as
an art form but lessening its potential popular and commercial value.
Since bebop was meant to be listened to, not danced to, it used faster tempos.
Beboppers introduced new forms of chromaticism and dissonance into jazz; the
dissonant tritone (or "flatted fifth") interval became the "most important interval of
bebop" and players engaged in a more abstracted form of chord-based
improvisation which used "passing" chords, substitute chords, and altered
The style of drumming shifted as well to a more elusive and explosive style, in
which the ride cymbal was used to keep time, while the snare and bass drum
were used for unpredictable, explosive accents.

Proponents: Thelonious Monk, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford

Brown, tenor sax player Leston Young, and drummer Max Roach

Charlie Parker (1920 1955)

Dizzie Gillespie (1917 1993)
Hot House
Charlie Parker
Dizzie Gillespie

Charlie Parker
Dizzie Gillespie

Thelonious Monk
(1917 1982)

Blue Monk

Bud Powell
(1924 1966)

A Night in

Max Roach
(1924 2007)

Mr. Hi Hat

Cool Jazz
Origins and Style
By the end of the 1940s, the nervous energy and tension of
bebop was replaced with a tendency towards calm and
smoothness, with the sounds of cool jazz, which favored long,
linear melodic lines. It emerged in New York City, as a result of
the mixture of the styles of predominantly white jazz musicians
and black bebop musicians, and it dominated jazz in the first half
of the 1950s.

Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, the
Modern Jazz Quartet. An important recording was trumpeter Miles
Davis Birth of Cool (tracks originally recorded in 1949 and 1950 and
collected as an LP in 1957).

Miles Davis
(1926 1991)
Jeru from
Birth of the

Cool Jazz

Dave Brubeck
(1920 - 2009)

Take Five

Hard Bop
Origins and Style
Hard bop is an extension of bebop (or "bop") music that
incorporates influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music,
and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing.
Hard bop was developed in the mid-1950s, partly in response to
the vogue for cool jazz in the early 1950s.
The hard bop style coalesced in 1953 and 1954, paralleling the
rise of rhythm and blues.

Miles Davis' performance of "Walkin'" the title track of his album
of announced the style to the jazz world.
The quintet Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, fronted by
Blakey and featuring pianist Horace Silver and trumpeter Clifford
Brown, were also leaders in the hard bop movement.

Miles Davis
(1926 1991)


Art Blakey
(1919 1990)


The Jazz Messengers

Modal Jazz
Origins and Style
Modal jazz is a development beginning in the later 1950s which
takes the mode, or musical scale, as the basis of musical
structure and improvisation.
Previously, the goal of the soloist was to play a solo that fit into a
given chord progression. However, with modal jazz, the soloist
creates a melody using one or a small number of modes. The
emphasis in this approach shifts from harmony to melody.

Miles Davis recorded the best selling jazz album of all time in the
modal framework: Kind of Blue
Other innovators in this style include John Coltrane (1926
1967) and Herbie Hancock (b. 1940).

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue

All Blues

Free Jazz
Origins and Style
Free jazz broke through into an open space of "free tonality" in
which meter, beat, and formal symmetry all disappeared, and a
range of world music from India, Africa, and Arabia were melded
into an intense, even religiously ecstatic style of playing.
While rooted in bebop, free jazz tunes gave players much more
latitude; the loose harmony and tempo was deemed
controversial when this approach was first developed.

Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor. John Coltrane, Archie Shepp,
Sun Ra, Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders

John Coltrane
(1926 1967)

A Love

Farrell Pharoah Sanders

(B. 1940)


Sun Ra
(1914 1993)

Sun Ra and His Arkestra

Face the Music

1960s and 1970s


Post Bop
Soul Jazz

Latin Jazz
Origins and Style
Latin jazz combines rhythms from African and
Latin American countries, often played on
instruments such as conga, timbale, guiro,
and claves, with jazz and classical harmonies
played on typical jazz instruments (piano,
double bass, etc.)
There are two main varieties: Afro-Cuban jazz
and Brazilian jazz

Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz

Afro-Cuban jazz was played in the US right
after the bebop period
It began as a movement in the mid-1950s as
bebop musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and
Billy Taylor started Afro-Cuban bands
influenced by such Cuban and Puerto Rican
musicians as
Proponents: Xavier Cugat, Tito Puente and
Arturo Sandoval

Xavier Cugat
(1900 1990)

Tico Taco

Tito Puente
(1923 2000)

Oye Como Va

Brazilian Jazz
Brazilian jazz became more popular in the 1960s
Brazilian jazz such as bossa nova is derived from
samba, with influences from jazz and other 20th century
classical and popular music styles
Bossa is generally moderately paced, with melodies
sung in Portuguese or English. This style was pioneered
by Brazilians Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The related term jazz-samba describes an adaptation of
bossa nova compositions to the jazz idiom by American
performers such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.

Joao Gilberto
(b. 1931)


Stan Getz
(1927 1991)

Bossa Nova Medley

Post Bop
Origins and Style
Post-bop is a term for a form of small-combo jazz music that
evolved in the early-to-mid sixties from earlier bop styles.
Generally, the term post-bop is taken to mean jazz from the midsixties onward that assimilates influence from hard bop, modal
jazz, avant-garde jazz, and free jazz, without necessarily being
immediately identifiable as any of the above.
By the early seventies, most of the major post-bop artists had
moved on to jazz fusion of one form or another.

John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Wayne
Shorter and Herbie Hancock

Wayne Shorter
(b. 1933)

Fee Fi Fo Fum

Herbie Hancock
(b. 1940)

Dolphin Dance
from Maiden

Soul Jazz
Origins and Style
Soul jazz was a development of hard bop which incorporated
strong influences from blues, gospel and rhythm and blues in
music for small groups, often the organ trio which featured the
Hammond organ. Tenor saxophone and guitar were also
important in soul jazz
Soul jazz was developed in the late 1950s and was perhaps most
popular in the mid-to-late 1960s,
Although the term "soul jazz" contains the word "soul," soul jazz
is only a distant cousin to soul music, with its origins in gospel
and R&B rather than jazz.
Unlike hard bop, soul jazz generally emphasized repetitive
grooves, melodies, and melodic hooks. The kinds of rhythms
used tend to vary as well.

Proponents: Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Horace


Lee Morgan
(1938 1972)

The Sidewinder

Herbie Hancock
(b. 1940)

Cantaloupe Island


Origins and Style

Fusion or, more specifically, jazz fusion or jazz rock, was developed in the late
1960s from a mixture of elements of jazz such as its focus on improvisation with
the rhythms and grooves of funk and R&B and the beats and heavily amplified
electric instruments and electronic effects of rock.
While the term "jazz rock" is often used as a synonym for "jazz fusion", it also
refers to the music performed by late 1960s and 1970s-era rock bands when
they added jazz elements to their music such as free-form improvisation.
After a decade of development during the 1970s, fusion split into different
branches in the 1980s. While some 1980s performers continued the
improvisatory and experimental approaches of the 1970s, others moved towards
a lighter, more pop-infused easy-listening style called smooth jazz which often
included vocals.
Fusion music is typically instrumental, often with complex time signatures,
meters, rhythmic patterns, and extended track lengths, featuring lengthy
Many prominent fusion musicians are recognized as having a high level of
virtuosity, combined with complex compositions and musical improvisation in
complex or mixed meters.

Proponents: Gary Burton, Larry Coryell, Miles Davis

Miles Davis
(1926 1991)

Black Comedy
from Miles in the

1980s to 2010
In the 1980s, the jazz community shrank dramatically and split.
A mainly older audience retained an interest in traditional and
straight-ahead jazz styles.


Straight Ahead

Pop Fusion
Origins, Style and Proponents
In the early 1980s, a lighter commercial form of jazz
fusion called pop fusion or smooth jazz" became
A smooth jazz track is downtempo, layering a lead,
melody-playing instrument over a backdrop that
typically consists of programmed rhythms and various
pads and/or samples radio airplay.
Proponents include Grover Washington, Jr., Kenny
G, Najee and Michael Lington.

Kenny G. [Kenneth Gorelick]

(b. 1956)


Baby G

Hip Hop

Origins and Style

Hip hop originated in the 1970s in New York City (Bronx)
Hip hop's "golden age" is a name given to a period usually from the late
1980s to early 90s - said to be characterized by its diversity, quality,
innovation and influence. There were strong themes of Afrocentricity
and political militancy, while the music was experimental and the
sampling was eclectic. There was often a strong jazz influence
Hip hop music may be based around either live or produced music, with
a clearly defined drum beat (almost always in 4/4 time signature),
presented either with or without vocal accompaniment.
Hip hop was almost entirely unknown outside of the United States prior
to the early 1980s. During that decade, it began its spread to every
inhabited continent and became a part of the music scene in dozens of

Proponents: Public Enemy, KRS-One, Eric B and Rakim, De La

Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers

Public Enemy
Dont Believe
the Hype from
It Takes a
Nation of
Millions to Hold
Us Back

[Lawrence Krishna Parker]
(b. 1965)

MCs Act Like They

Dont Know

Straight Ahead
In the 2000s, straight ahead jazz continues to appeal to
a core group of listeners.
Well-established jazz musicians, such as Dave Brubeck,
Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter and Jessican Williams
continue to perform and record.
In the 1990s and 2000s, a number of young musicians
emerged, including US pianists Brad Mehldau, Jason
Moran, and Vijay Iyer, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel,
vibrophonist Stefon Harris, trumpeters Roy Hargrove and
Terence Blanchard, and saxophonists Chris Potter and
Joshua Redman.

Joshua Redman
(b. 1969)

Live in Lausanne

The more experimental end of the
spectrum has included US trumpeters
Dave Douglas and Rob Mazurek,
saxophonist Ken Vandemark, Norwegian
pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, the Swedish
group E.S.T, and US bassist Christian

Christian McBride
(b. 1972)

Bye-Bye Blackbird

Dance or Pop Music

Toward the more dance or pop music end
of the spectrum are St. Germain [Ludovic
Navarre] , who incorporates some live jazz
playing with house beats, and
Jamie Cullum, who plays a particular mix
of jazz standards with his own more poporiented compositions.

St. Germain
[Ludovic Navarre]

from Boulevard

Jamie Cullum
(b. 1979)

What a
Difference a Day

In 1987, the US House of Representatives and
Senate passed a bill proposed by Democratic
Representative John Conyers, Jr. to define jazz
as a unique form of American music stating,
among other things, "...that jazz is hereby
designated as a rare and valuable national
American treasure to which we should devote
our attention, support and resources to make
certain it is preserved, understood and

Prelude: The Advent of Rock

Bill Haley and the Comets
Rock Around the Clock