Introduction to jazz styles

Jazz styles

First, let’s  say something about jazz: “Jazz is a primarily American musical art form which originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions. The style’s West African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note.”

Miles Davis: “Jazz has got to have that thing. You have to be born with it. You can’t learn it, you can’t buy it and no critic can put it into any words. It speaks in the music. It speaks for itself. “

“Jazz can be hard to define because it spans from Ragtime waltzes to 2000s-era fusion. While many attempts have been made to define jazz from points of view outside jazz, such as using European music history or African music, jazz critic Joachim Berendt argues that all such attempts are unsatisfactory.[3] One way to get around the definitional problems is to define the term “jazz” more broadly. Berendt defines jazz as a “form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music”; he argues that 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”.”

you can find more about jazz definition here in Wiki

Jazz Styles

Ragtime ~

A forerunner of jazz, ragtime was derived from brass – band music and European folk melodies, African – American banjo music and spirituals, minstrel songs, military marches and European light classics.
The raggy style or ragged – time feeling, of this jaunty, propulsive, toe – tapping piano music refers to its inherent syncopation, where loud right hand accents fall between the strong beats of the left hand rather than on top of them.

New Orleans ~

Conditions were ripe for jazz to evolve in New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century. A thriving port of immigration, where Africans and Creoles lived side by side with Italians, Germans, Irish, French, Mexicans and Cubans, New Orleans’ unprecedented ethnic diversity allowed for a free and easy mingling of musical ideas between cultures.
Other factors contributed to the coalescing of jazz as a cultural expression unique to New Orleans. The call – and – response tradition of West African music was retained in many Baptist churches of the South, particularly in New Orleans, while concepts of polyrhythm and improvisation within group participation were kept alive in the Crescent City at Congo Square, an authorized venue where slaves would gather to recreate their drumming and dancing traditions.

Chicago ~

Jazz was the by – product of cultures coming together in New Orleans at the turn of twentieth centuriy, the music, along with some of its greatest practitioners, moved north by 1917. That year Storyville, the red light district, was forced to close and jazz musicians headed north to Chicago, where jazz matured into a fine art form.
Chicago held the promise of a new life for the Southers black population, witch migrated from the fields of the cotton industry to the blast furnaces and factories of big Northern cities.

Swing ~

The popularity of jazz hit a peak after the Depression years of 1929 – 1934. By the end of 1934, huge numbers were tuning in to the NBC radio series Let’s Dance, which broadcast performances by the Xavier Cugat, Kel Murray and Benny Goodman orchestras.
Goodman’s orchestra in particular caught on with the public and created a demand for live performances.

Bebop ~

Though it was often referred to as a musical revolution, bebop was actually a neutral evolution of jazz, involving innovative approaches to harmony and rhythm that advanced the music forward to a modern area.
Traces of bebop began to emerge during the early 1940s, in orchestras led by Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine.
Those adventurous impulses were further developed in Harlem nightspots such as Minton’s Playhouse and Clark Monroe’s Uptown House, where the architects of an iconoclastic new movment conducted experiments with time, tempo and extended techniques.

Dixieland Revival ~

By the end of 1930s, the swing era was in full force, ushered in big bands led by Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, the Dorsey brothers (Jimmy and Tommy) and Glenn Miller. New Orleans jazz and its stylistic off-short, Dixieland, had both largery faded from popularity.
New Orleans pioneers King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton drifted into obscurity. Original Dixieland Jass Band leader Nick LaRoca left music altogether and became a building contractor, while New Orleans trombonist – bandleader Edward ‘Kid’ Ory (once a mentor to the teenage Louis Armstrong in New Orleans and later appearing on Armstrong’s revolutionary Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions from 1925 – 1928) had gone into chicken farming.

Cool Jazz ~

In the wake of the pyrotechnic manifesto that Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Dizzy Gillespie jointly issued on their first recording together in 1945, most musicians on the New York jazz scene began fanning the flames of bebop. Tempos picked up speed, intensity increased on the bandstand and blazing virtuosity became a means to an end, in a fiery pursuit of Bird and Diz.
And yet, the task of topping the two trendsetters who originated and mastered the art of bebop seemed insurmountable to many of their disciples, who, at best, might be considered great imitators but never originators. This frustrating fact caused several forward – thinking musicians to break from the extroverted bebop mould and forge a new, more reflective and delibarate musical path.
Like pouring water on the flames of the bebop movment, these thoughtful young player – composers came to epitomize a ‘cool school’ in jazz.

Hard Bop ~

Hard bop evolved out of bebop during the early 1950s but its rhythms were more driving and syncopated. Hard bop also tended to have a more full – bodied sound, a bluesy feel with darker textures and shorter improvised lines, and its chord progressions were usually composed rather than borrowed from popular tunes.
although Miles Davis made an early foray into hard bop with Walkin’ (1953), the style did not become estabished until drummer Art Blakey and pianist Horace Silver joined forces later that year.
They played with the trademark hard – driving grooves and gospel – inspired pharsings that yould lated be associated with the genre.

Free Jazz ~

Free jazz is seen by many as an avant – garde art form rather than a type of jazz, with its unpredictable rhythm and chord progressions.
Evolving out of bebop in the 1940s and 1950s the exponents of free jazz abandoned traditional forms to expand the music’s creative possibilities, challenging mainstream listeners and players alike.
The first documented free jazz recordings were made by the pianist Lennie Tristano and his band for Capitol Records in 1949. He asked the other players to ignore keys, chord structures, time signatures and melodies for the sessions, and hist focus on ‘reading into each others’ minds’.
Tristano was a pioneer; his unique contrapuntal and improvisational ideas inspired other bebop musicians to try expanding the boundaries of jazz.

Soul Jazz ~

Soul jazz stood out from other previous jazz forms. Its melodies were simpler and more rhythmic compared to hard bop, and influences from gospel and R&B were evident.
In more traditional jazz forms, soloists would follow walking bass lines or metric cymbal rhythms. In soul jazz, they followed a whole groove, which encouraged a different style of pharsing.
Soul jazz, also known as jazz – funk, can be traced back as far as the early 1950s, when Horace Silver was writing groovy jazz numbers for his now famous trio.

Fusion & Jazz Rock ~

‘Fusion’ can be applied to any music that blends two or more different styles, though it is normally used ti describe the elecronic jazz rock movement that emerged in the late 1960s. Some of the musicians expanded the boundaries of both jazz and rock, while others focused on producing sophisticated, but shallow, ‘background’ music.
Although fusion records have never sold in huge quantities, the style has remained popular within the musical community during the past 30 years.

Acid Jazz ~

Acid jazz is a lively, groove – oriented music style that combines elements from jazz, funk and hip hop, with an ampharsis on jazz dance.
The term ‘acid jazz’ was first used during the late 1980s, both as the name of an American record label and the title of a British jazz funk, ‘rare groove’ compilation series.
Interest had orignally been sparkes by a thriving London club scene, where hio DJs were playing rare 1970s jazz funk records.
This encouraged Britich and American underground musicians such as The Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Stereo MC’s, Galliano and Groove Collestive, who began to popularize the style by the 1990s.

Smooth Jazz ~

Slick, ‘radio – frendly’ smooth jazz emerged in the 1970s, and it has continued to evolve ever since. The most artful examples can make for rewarding listening, while blander compositions can be recognized by any combination of musical cliches; light funk grooves, cool jazz chords, slapped bass lines, corny horn accompaniments and predictable solos.

Latin Jazz ~

Latin jazz is commonly defined as the fusion of American jazz melodies, improvisation and chords with Latin American rhythms, predominantly those of Afro – Cban orgin.
How this marriage of styles occurried is also one of the most significant cultural, musical exchanges in history.

Brazilian Jazz ~

In the mid – 1950s, a cultural crossfertilization of Brazilian samba rhythms, American cool jazz and sophisticated harmonies led to the development of bossa nova.
In the early 1960s the bossa nova movment swept through the United states and Europe producing a strain of Brazilian – influenced jazz that remains a vital part of the jazz scene.


  1. This is the blog I will definitely watch. I appreciate this effort.

  2. JazzSpot Said:

    Thank you! I’m glad you like it.

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