Staff Writer Explains Significance of Jazz
Originating in the early 20th century in New Orleans, jazz music has been a core component of American culture for generations.
Jazz music originally stemmed from both African rhythms and bluesy feel and European harmonies and instrumentation. According to jazzinamerica.org, these came together in New Orleans and evolved through African American spirituals to become what jazz is today.
Widely considered to be the original jazz soloist and innovator, Louis Armstrong was a pivotal figure in the birth of jazz. Born in New Orleans and moving to Chicago to follow his mentor Joe “King” Oliver and pursue music. NPR.com titled “Louis Armstrong: The man and his music,” explains that his nearly nonstop touring with his band, Louis Armstrong and his All Stars, throughout the ‘30s and ‘40s helped to spread the popularity of the genre across the nation.
One such individual who was inspired by the confidence and talent of Armstrong was Miles Davis. Davis is widely considered to be one of the progenitors of both cool jazz and hard-bop jazz, an uptempo, wilder alternative to the standard bebop jazz.
Davis would also later go on to record Kind of Blue along with other virtuosos like saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, and pianist of Bill Evans.
Slate.com by Fred Kaplan titled “Kind of Blue,” explains that the album marked a new beginning of jazz music; rather than being confined to a rigid set of chords, the musicians were free to do whatever they please. In fact, on one track, “Flamenco Sketches,” was recorded with no prior preparation. It was just musicians telling their stories through improvisation.
Abigail Daniels of CNN states that much of modern music, specifically hip-hop and rap, have their roots in jazz. Both genres were born in similar ways.
“Jazz was born a raw and energetic rebuttal of what was musically acceptable at the time, and became the voice of a generation of African-American youth,” she explains.
Jazz in the early 20th century is what hip hop is today.
While jazz may not appeal to everyone on the surface, be sure to look a little deeper both at modern music and jazz from the past.
Whosampled.com finds that artists from Madonna to A Tribe Called Quest to Jay Z and Kanye West to Public Enemy have all used licks from Herbie Hancock, Grover Washington Jr., Nina Simone and Donald Byrd.
Jazz has music for everyone; whether you want a smooth, emotional, swinging, or lively tune, give the likes to Paul Desmond, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, or Charles Mingus a try.