Since the underground cellars of the 1920s, jazz musicians have their foundations rooted in the African American and West African traditions including blues music and ragtime, with some influence of European military band music. Even though the music has its roots, along the musical journey, many diverse cultures and influences have contributed to the style which has created the well-rounded form of jazz we know and love today. Many people around the world refer to it as ‘one of Americas original art forms’.
So, what is jazz music, where does it come from and what different types are there?
The Birth of Jazz
Jazz originates from the 19th to the 20th centuries and is a blend of American and European classical music with African and slave folk songs (with west African culture influences). The style of music has many different origins, from blended African and European to African rhythmic retention. It is usually characterised by improvisations, syncopations (off beat accents) and swung rhythms. It is often not strictly based on a score and is sometimes played spontaneously, in the spur of the moment. While many people say that jazz was born in 1895 when Buddy Bolden formed his first band, others will say it was 20 years later when Nick LaRocca recorded “Livery Stable Blues”.
Different Forms of Jazz
Jazz isn’t just jazz, but consists of several types, just like any other genre of music. There are over 50 types of jazz music within the genre, ranging from ragtime to swing or free funk to jazz blues with them all having their own characteristics.
Ragtime – Some music lovers will say this sub-genre is the founding base of all jazz music, originating in the late 1800s in southern America. It was developed using the piano as the basis for the melody, coupled with a vibrant and lively rhythm, often related to African dance.
The Blues – The blues had a huge impact on the development of the genre. It is usually accompanied by vocals, and express emotions and is often paired with a piano, guitar and harmonica.
Dixieland – Often referred to as traditional jazz or New Orleans jazz, Dixieland jazz incorporates the styles of blues, ragtime and brass band. Instruments such as the clarinet, trombone and trumpet are played alongside an arranged section of piano, string bass, drums and banjo or tuba. This type of jazz is usually instrumental and shows off the talents of the musicians, one of whom you will probably know - Louis Armstrong.
Big Band - After the rise in popularity of Dixieland jazz, big band jazz was born. From the 1920s onwards, jazz styles were constantly being played with and adapted, so when musicians started experimenting together, they discovered the power of playing in larger groups. Big band is usually made up of 10 or more players, merging their jazz instruments together to form what is now known as swing. It is a high energy form of jazz which brings everyone to the dance floor.
Bebop – Reaching the 40s when the big band sound was in full swing, soon after came bebop, which could be considered one of the most interesting. Although very different from big band, the group down-sized to around four to six musicians and the melodies became much more complex. This was accompanied by a vocal style called ‘scatting’, which was an improvisation of vocals.
Top Jazz Songs
1.Take Five - Dave Brubeck 2.What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong 3.So What - Miles Davis 4.Feeling Good - Nina Simone 5.Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday 6.My Funny Valentine - Chet Baker 7.At Last - Etta James 8.Fly Me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra 9.The Mooche - Duke Ellington 10. Well You Needn’t - Thelonious Monk
Jazz has been very prominent in the music world ever since the 20s and has been constantly growing and adapting, with us still seeing modern artists taking on the genre. Artists such as Gregory Porter, Melody Gardot and Norah Jones are keeping the music alive. Not only this but so is Monitor Music!
Whether a wedding party, a black-tie event or a corporate shin-dig, Monitor Music have everything from a Piano and Saxophone Duo to a Vintage Jazz band to a true Big Band for hire. All our acts are fuelled with old school glamour, taking everyone back in time to when jazz was thriving! With authentic instrumentals, flourishing jazz aspects and swinging rhythms, they are sure to entertain all and make sure you take away ever-lasting memories.
If you would like any more information about our jazz artists and bands for hire you can get in touch with our team! We would love to discuss what swinging songs you require at your event!