Whether you’re looking for something fast-paced and upbeat to get you on your feet or something slow and romantic as a backdrop to a date night, Jazz has you covered! But what exactly is jazz? That’s a tough question to answer, only because jazz is so multi-faceted. Jazz has a long, rich history, and there have been many offshoots and sub-genres. So, without further ado, let’s get into it and learn more about jazz!
When Was Jazz Invented?
As with many types of music, it’s a bit hard to pinpoint exactly when jazz first popped up as a distinct musical genre. Jazz is typically thought of as forming around the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. But it really took off in the 1920s, which are also known as the Golden Age of Jazz. Jazz stood out with its use of improvisation, quick, rhythmic compositions, call-and-response (where one instrument plays and then another instrument or a singer “answers”), and other things that define the genre. You’ll also hear the same songs being sung by many different singers through the decades in jazz, each adding their own personal flair.
Common Instruments in Jazz
Jazz has a core set of instruments commonly used, along with others that are specific to a certain singer or subtype of jazz. The most commonly used instruments in jazz include piano, saxophone, trumpet, double bass, and drums. Different bands or artists may utilize unusual instruments such as the flute or cello in some of their songs, while in certain subtypes there are other additions that make it into many songs of that genre, such as the claves (a rhythm instrument) in Afro-Cuban jazz or the electric guitar in jazz-rock.
Types of Jazz
There are several types of jazz, and each has left its own mark on the genre. We’ll discuss some of these in this section. Swing jazz, for example, was all about the dance-ability, and it was often lively and conducive to an upbeat, active atmosphere. Smooth jazz, on the other hand, is much slower and lends itself well to more of a relaxing atmosphere or background music. There are also amalgamations of jazz with other types of music like Afro-Caribbean jazz and blues jazz.
Famous Jazz Musicians
It’s impossible to list all the greats, but here are a few famous jazz musicians. Even those who don’t know much about jazz would recognize some of these names! Miles Davis is one, and he spanned decades of jazz history and dabbled in many different styles through the years. Ella Fitzgerald was especially famous for her scatting (quick, improvised nonsense words and syllables). Louis Armstrong was also famous for his scat singing, along with his saxophone-playing. Other well-known artists in the jazz scene include Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and John Coltrane.
Hope you learned something new about jazz! Check out my other blog posts to learn about these topics in more depth. And while you’re on my site, I hope you stay a while and browse some of my music, too!