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All that jazz . . .


Greetings jazz music lovers!

Jazz as a subject of study and discussion is broad and interesting.

As a musical expression, it is the embodiment of sophistication and refinement. It originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the American South.
Jazz came to being through a fusion of African and European music traditions.

This resulted from musicians using classical instruments and styles from both cultures to create a new form of music.

Black music innovators of the era combined the piano, the congas, the violin and the African call-and-response pattern to create a new type of music.

During slavery, African slaves used to sing songs of freedom.

These songs became the fundamental building block for jazz.

Jazz is innovative and dynamic.

Over time, jazz has absorbed new trends, new cultures and new vibes to create a variety of sub-genres.

The sub-genres are influenced by the time, the place and the innovators themselves.

Dixieland is the New Orleans style of 1910s and Swing is the big band style of the 1930s.

The main innovators of this age are Duke Ellington, Count Bassie and Louis Armstrong.

Bebop developed in the 1940s while fusions such as Afro jazz, cool jazz, free jazz and Latin jazz were spawned in the 1950s and 1960s.

Notable trendsetters from this era are Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.

Later trends that were created from the 1970s to the present are soul jazz, jazz fusion, jazz funk, smooth jazz, acid jazz, nu jazz and jazz rap.

Names like Miles Davis, Grover Washington Junior, Earl Klugh and Jonathan Butler are associated with the creativity of this period.

The technical aspect of jazz makes the genre unique and exciting.

Jazz musicians make extensive use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrythms, syncopation and the swung note.

The musician rarely performs one piece in the same manner twice.

The feeling of the particular moment determines the artist’s interpretation of a composition when it is performed.

Jazz as an art form is deep and broad, it is impossible to cover all the facets in one instalment.

We will look at the various aspects of the genre in greater detail in future instalments.

Readers, please note that this column is also intended to be a forum for discussion on various issues; so we encourage the jazz community to write in with contributions and views.

Till next week, take it easy. . .

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