Types of Jazz Music

Defining the various types of jazz music may have some level of difficulty due to the wide range of jazz styles that have evolved over time. It has always been believed by many that jazz music along with the various types of jazz are simply a state of mind. It’s either you get its meaning or you don’t.

One of the simplest ways to start is by looking at some of the more prominent types of jazz music that emerged during the lifetime of Louis Armstrong. With a career that spanned five decades (1920s to the 1960s) and various eras in jazz history, Armstrong is no doubt one of the most influential jazz figures that the world of music has ever known.

Dixieland

This type of jazz music is one of the earliest jazz styles that originated in New Orleans in the 1910s. It’s characterized by a combination of ragtime, brass band marches, blues and French Quadrilles wherein a unique and influential style of jazz music is produced. The name was also inspired by the jazz ensemble Original Dixieland Jazz Band who recorded the first ever issued jazz single.

Ragtime 

Ragtime music, which was vitalized by the opposing rhythms that are common to African dance, was described as enthusiastic, vibrant and often extemporaneous. Usually referred to as the precursor to various jazz styles, Ragtime music’s most notable figure is Scott Joplin who is known as the ”King of Ragtime”.

Bebop 

This type of jazz music, characterized by complex chord progressions and melodies, became popular in the 1940s. Bebop emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s and has derived its name from the words ”Arriba! Arriba!,” a cry made by Latin American band leaders while they were conducting their bands. Bebop music has brought notable influence to the Beat poets and contemporary hip-hop and rock music. Notable Bebop music artists include John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis.

Bossa Nova 

Developed in mid-1950s Brazil, bossa nova is a fusion of the rhythm and melody of samba and samba-cancao along with the harmonic vocabulary found in American standards and the sense of “cool” jazz. From the early 1960s, this type of music became an important influence on both the American popular music and jazz. Bossa nova also became more popular as a musical form as opposed to achieving popularity as a dance form. There are a number of classic jazz standards that are composed by non-Brazilian musicians which employ a bossa nova music beat. These include Forest Flower, Song For My Father, and The Shadow of Your Smile.

Swing 

Swing music is a type of music that is robust and invigorating and has a strong rhythm section. It gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s although a decline was seen in the 1940s brought by World War II when band members had to go overseas to serve in the war. The mid 1990s witnessed the revival of swing music as inspired by the retro trends in dance. Artists who are influential to swing music include Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Earl “Fatha” Hines, and Duke Ellington.

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