History of Jazz
Jazz is a music genre that is characterized by polyrhythms, call and response vocals, swing and blue notes, and improvisation. Its development started in New Orleans during the latter part of the 19th century. On this period, brass bands would perform in parades, parties, dances, marches and funerals where they play anything from military songs to rags that are polyphonic in style which are akin to African-American vocal music.
The marches that were played at this time were deemed as very lengthy. In order to cope, the performers had to repeat the tunes several times which allowed them to do a number of improvisations on the melodies in order keep the performances interesting as well as to relieve themselves from boredom. Eventually, this type of music spread to other cities as musicians left New Orleans. Soon, the marching aspect became a thing of the past while the playing of the piano, trap drum and any other instruments that could be played even while seated started to become part of the jazz music scene. Until the 1920s, jazz started to become more diversified while new genres such as Classic Jazz and Dixieland also started to emerge.
The Jazz Age
The 1920s became more popularly known as “The Jazz Age” since during this period, jazz started to place a huge influence on dance bands. Furthermore, short solos and syncopated rhythm section started to gain more relevance in most commercial outfits.
It was also during this period when Louis Armstrong and his impressive recording series of Hot Five and Hot Seven served as an inspiration to other musicians who were also aspiring to stretch themselves. He is believed to have influenced Bing Crosby with his unique styles known as scat singing and relaxed vocal phrasing. Other important names that made great contributions to the world of jazz include pianist James P. Johnson, pianist Jelly Roll Morton, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, arranger-composer Duke Ellington, and tenor Coleman Hawkins.
The Fusion Era
The fusion era refers to the period of the 1970s when a number of jazz musicians combined aspects of pop, R&B and rock into their music. Jazz and rock somehow remained as two distinct and separate worlds until the late 60s when the electric keyboards rose in popularity which led to a huge deal of music experimentation. New groups emerged and combined the musicianship and improvising elements of jazz with the rhythms and power of rock. Some of the most notable names include the Weather Report, the Mahavishnu orchestra and Return To Forever. In 1975, jazz continued to be a moneymaking potential and was soon given the moniker of ” contemporary jazz.”
Jazz In The 1980s And Beyond
The world of jazz, including the new genres of Funk Jazz and Classic Fusion, saw many changes brought by the musical worlds of funk, rock and R&B which are all characterized by their use of loud amplified instruments. With so many genres and influences that were taking place in the 1980s, it’s no wonder why creating a genre that’s easily definable seemed very challenging.
Almost all styles of jazz managed to remain active during the 1990s. These include classic jazz, Dixieland, bop, post bop, hard bop, mainstream, avant-garde and a number of fusion styles. From this period up to the 2000s, rock-derived musical elements and the use electronic instruments continued to be the integral components of jazz. Certain musicians who used this approach include John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny and the Swedish jazz piano trio known as ”e.s.t.”.