Jazz is music characterized by propulsive syncopated rhythms (accents in unexpected places), and forward momentum called “swing”. Improvisation is a very important part – soloists make up the music on the spot and without planning, which can only be done well by the truly gifted. Typically, this improvisation is accompanied by repeated chord progression of a popular song or original composition. Jazz also involves a lot of interplay among musicians in an ensemble, often taking daring chances of making improvised music individually or as a group. In jazz, there is often a deliberate distortion of pitch, time signature, and timbre.
Since its beginning, Jazz has evolved into many styles because by its nature, it encourages exploration and creativity. Musicians strive to develop their personal sound and style. A familiar tune would sound very different when played by different jazz musicians. Indeed jazz is about making something familiar into something fresh, and something popular into something personal. Jazz is called the quintessential American music because it showcases the american’s rugged individualism and creativity.
It was in New Orleans that Creole and African musical influences combine to create the musical style we know as jazz. Strain of melodies from the West Indies mingled with African polyrhythms, minstrel tunes and plantation songs, work songs, rowing chants, lullabies and spirituals, and even brass bands parading around Crescent City (playing for funerals, weddings, etc.). European music also contributed via its hymns, marches, waltzes, and other dance music, and theater and operatic music.
The sub-genres of jazz are ragtime, New Orleans, Chicago, Swing, Bebop, Dixieland Revival, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Free Jazz, Soul Jazz, Fusion and Jazz Rock, Acid Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Latin Jazz, and Brazilian Jazz.
Miles Davis Playing “So What” from album “Kind of Blue”
Below is a list of top 50 jazz albums that should go in every enthusiast’s collection: