views updated Jun 08 2018



Jazz is a uniquely American style of music that developed in the early twentieth century in urban areas of the United States. As it grew in popularity and influence, jazz served as a means of bringing young people together. It has always created and sustained artistic subcultures, which have produced new and increasingly sophisticated artistry. As a pervasive and influential musical style, jazz has at times been a great social leveler and unifier. It has melded black and white citizens in a love of fast, rhythmic music, which was first proliferated through radio and the recording industry. Jazz became the basis for most social dance music and also provided one of the first opportunities for public integration.

Jazz first emerged in the black cultures of New Orleans from the mixed influences of ragtime (songs with a syncopated rhythm), blues, and the band music played at New Orleans funerals. The term jazz or jass derives from a Creole word that means both African dance and copulation. The term jazz referring to peppy dance music first appeared in a March 1913 edition of the San Francisco Bulletin, an appearance that indicates jazzs rapid spread as a popular musical genre as well as its connection to dancing and nightlife. Developed by such innovative musicians as Buddy Bolden (18771931) in New Orleans in the first decade of the twentieth century, jazz had moved west, east, and north to Chicago by 1919. Spread by such New Orleans jazz groups and performers as King Oliver (18851938) and his Creole Jazz Band and Jelly Roll Morton (18901941), jazz first became popular in the nightclub cultures of big cities. King Olivers band in Chicago was soon joined by a young Louis Armstrong (19011971), who pioneered the rapid rhythmic jazz style called hot jazz. White musicians such as Bix Beiderbecke (19031931), Jack Teagarden (19051964), and Joe Venuti (19031978) began to copy the jazz style of New Orleans bands, and soon jazz was an American national phenomenon, appealing to sophisticates and young audiences around the country.

Jazz evolved simultaneously in the 1920s in New Orleans, Chicago, and Kansas City, performed by both black and white ensembles and orchestras. As it developed from its Dixieland forms, jazz styles ranged from the hot jazz of Louis Armstrong to the symphonic jazz of Paul Whitemans (18901967) band. Hot jazz, one of the first influential developments of jazz, featured a strong soloist whose variations on the melody and driving momentum were accompanied by an expert ensemble of five or seven players. The idea of soloists playing in relation to backup ensembles also worked easily with larger bands, which began to form in the 1920s.

Fletcher Henderson (18971952) and Duke Ellington (18991974) established black jazz orchestras that began performing at prominent nightclubs in Chicago and New York. Henderson employed some of the most accomplished jazz musicians of his time, including Armstrong and saxophonist Coleman Hawkins (19041969). Ellington, who began as a piano player, established another orchestra, noted for its sophistication in its long-running appearance at New Yorks Cotton Club. Paul Whiteman, a successful white California orchestra leader, adapted jazz for his larger dance orchestra, which became the most popular band of the 1920s. Whiteman was interested in distinguishing a high art jazz as represented by George Gershwins (18981937) Rhapsody in Blue (1924, which Whiteman had commissioned for his orchestra) from what he thought of as the cruder jazz of such white jazz ensembles as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, booked into New York in 1917, was one of the first successful jazz groups.

Live band appearances and a booming recording industry increased jazzs audience, as did Prohibition, which paradoxically made nightlife even more fashionable. Associated with nightclubs and nightlife, jazz became attractively exotic both in the United States and in Europe. Popular jazz bands traveled widely, playing at all kinds of venues from dancehalls and nightclubs to restaurants. The rapidly growing record industry quickly became interested in jazz performers. Such artists as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman (19091986), Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and others made records that reached audiences who did not venture into city nightlife.

The Great Depression, however, took its toll on smaller and less successful jazz bands, black bands more than white bands. With the advent of swing music, many white bands could continue to prosper, but many black bands had more difficulty finding large audiences. They were less commercially successful in general, since most black orchestras did not have the mainstream connections and recording contracts of white bands. In addition, Jim Crow segregation laws kept black orchestras separate from white orchestras. For these reasons, many black jazz musicians went to Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, where they were welcomed. Coleman Hawkins and clarinetist Sidney Bechet (18971959) both played in Europe, where audiences were captivated by the erotic suggestiveness of jazz.

Swing, a jazz-inflected dance music, developed in the 1930s and was hugely popular during World War II (19391945). Swing jazz was designed for larger musical groups. It continued hot jazzs back-and-forth between a solo player and the supporting ensemble, but it framed and balanced the solo with a more structured accompaniment, which often involved a musical battle between various sections of the band. Swing developed gradually, but Benny Goodmans August 21, 1935, performance at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles is often considered swings debut. Its popularity established swing as a dance music and style that cut across classes and races. Swing bandsknown as Big Bands also employed band singers, many of whom became hugely popular in their own right. Frank Sinatra (19151998), for example, caused riots during his appearances with the Tommy Dorsey Band, while Bing Crosby (19031977), Ella Fitzgerald (19171996), Billie Holiday (19151959), Doris Day, and Rosemary Clooney (19282002) all became stars in their own right.

Female singers, especially Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn (19241990), had a larger part in the evolution of jazz than most women did. Since its inception, innovations in jazz seemed to come mainly from those who played wind instrumentstrumpet players Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie (19171993), and Miles Davis (19261991); saxophonists Charlie Parker (19201955) and John Coltrane (19261967); and clarinetist Benny Goodman. Players of other instruments, such as piano, drums, bass, and guitar, though enjoying roles as soloists, were primarily responsible for maintaining the driving rhythm of jazz pieces. Until they became prominent as jazz vocalists, women musicians seemed to have little role as jazz artists or innovators. Although they occasionally played in jazz groups, women musicians were most often pianists, such as Louis Armstrongs wife, Lillian Hardin (18981971). The introduction of female vocalists whose role was increasingly like that of other featured wind instruments broadened the dimensions of jazz. Scat singing, or singing nonsense syllables, which had been used earlier by Ethel Waters (19001977), Edith Wilson (18961981), and Louis Armstrong, made the voice sound more like a jazz instrument. Melodic voice improvisation developed by such women vocalists as Adelaide Hall (19041993), Ivie Anderson (19051949), and most notably Fitzgerald made the voice an instrument and an important part of the jazz repertoire. Vocalist Billie Holiday added her own brand of blues inflected improvisation, phrasing like a wind player and injecting fun and suggestiveness into the music. In the 1940s two other vocalists, Dinah Washington (19241963) and Sarah Vaughn, added their own imprimatur to jazz: Washington imported a powerful clarity from gospel music, and Vaughn further developed the voice as an instrument in the context of bebop.

The popularity of swing music beginning in the 1930s also enabled bands to cross color lines. Before swing, bands mostly played to audiences of their own race, but with swing, white audiences began to follow black bands as well. In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman integrated his jazz ensemble, working with Teddy Wilson (19121986), a pianist, and Lionel Hampton (19082002), a vibraphonist. Because jazz musicians knew, admired, and even borrowed one anothers work, jazz ensembles were among the first integrated public performance groups.

Swing also helped moor up the national mood both during both the Depression and the Second World War. Armed Services Radio broadcast swing music to soldiers. Although musicians and record companies were at a standoff over musicians royalties for airplay in 1942, a special V-Disc program produced records for the use of the military.

After the war, many musicians who had begun their careers in swing bandsincluding Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespiebegan exploring a more frenetic smallensemble form of jazz known as bop. With such younger artists as Miles Davis and Art Blakey (19191990), bop developed as a more hard-driving, difficult jazz characterized by the prominence of soloists who played rapid complex improvisations in business suits. Bop was primarily the bailiwick of black musicians, who were rescuing the form from the pleasant popularity of swing and who would, with their development of hard bop or bebop and cool jazz, turn jazz into something more intellectual, difficult, and soulful. These later forms became a connoisseurs jazz, played again in smaller clubs and establishing jazz artists as the avant-garde of music. Such beat artists as Jack Kerouac (19221969) extolled bop jazz as representing an expression of soul that beat writers wished to emulate by breaking down traditional forms.

Despite its often improvisational character, jazz benefited from a number of talented composers. Instrumentalists such as Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus (19221979), Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk (19171982), Sun Ra (19141993), Wayne Shorter, and Randy Weston contributed to the growing body of jazz music, as did Duke Ellington and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn (19151967). Ellington and Strayhorn, both pianists, forged a productive association, writing Ellingtons theme song, Take the A Train (1941), as well as other well-known favorites played by the Ellington orchestra. More recently, other composers have continued jazzs evolution, including Jeff Wains and Wynton Marsalis.

Jazz had also long incorporated a broader base of musical styles and influences, so even as it became cool and increasingly sophisticated, it also dipped again and again into a variety of sources, renewing itself and extending its influence into more popular musical forms. As Dizzy Gillespie developed bop, he also infused his music with Afro-Cuban jazz rhythms and musicians. Chano Pozo (19151948), a Cuban percussionist, joined Gillespies band in 1947, and the addition of Pozo and a wide array of Latin percussion instruments, such as the congas, bongos, timbales, and claves, produced complex and rapidly moving pieces. Latin musicians such as trumpet player Arturo Sandoval also joined Gillespie. In the 1950s Puerto Rican percussionist Tito Puente (19232000) and Cuban musicians Chico OFarrill (19212001) and Chucho Valdés played Latin mambo in New York, influencing both big band and jazz ensemble sounds. In the early 1960s Brazilian jazz, called bossa nova, emerged in the United States. João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim (19271994) brought the style to the United States, and their work was taken up by saxophonist Stan Getz (19271991). Miles Davis worked with Brazilian drummer Airto Moreira, and in the 1990s Roy Hargrove incorporated Afro-Cuban elements in his Crisol project. The influence of Latin rhythms and styles enlarged the appeal of jazz, making it more joyous and rhythmic, and via such forms as bossa nova, linking it to more mainstream styles.

As jazz became more esoteric, it became more sophisticated than popular. Although it continued to influence the styles of newer music, such as rock and roll, its audience shrank to those who could appreciate its difficulties, and jazz no longer played as direct a role in the evolution of popular music. It retained its links to nightclubs, but lost its aura of carefree joy. Jazz musicians of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s became associated with the innovations and countercultural sentiments of the beats. Some, such as pianist Dave Brubeck and saxophonist Paul Desmond (19241977), became campus favorites, touring with their jazz quartet around Midwest college campuses in the 1950s. In its links to countercultural art and lifestyles, as well as to a more intellectual milieu, jazz also became associated with civil rights efforts, Black Nationalism, and other radical movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Although jazz musicians (like many performers) had long been linked to drugs and less-than-suburban lifestyles, as drugs became an openly rebellious facet of the hippie and youth movements of the 1970s, they became a part of the myth of jazz as well.

At the same time, jazz also became more academic and respectable as a high culture phenomenon. Music conservatories and universities began offering courses in jazz history and composition and training jazz musicians. Such renowned institutions as the Berklee College of Music in Boston, the Juilliard School in New York City, and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, as well as numerous universities in the United States and throughout the world, train jazz musicians.

Jazz of the later twentieth century continued to develop multiple stylesfree jazz, soul jazz, jazz-rock fusionthat represented attempts to reclaim jazz as a specifically black musical tradition, even though jazz continued to be an integrated effort. Jazz groups again became smaller ensembles and their work became more experimental and aimed at appreciative listeners rather than at dancing. Jazz clubs developed in larger cities; the clubs attract audiences of jazz lovers but not nearly the kind of widespread adulation given to swing. In the 1990s Wynton Marsalis and his brother Branford Marsalis led a renaissance in the widespread popularity of jazz. Wynton Marsalis, a classically trained trumpet player, won Grammy Awards in both classical and jazz categories. More important perhaps was his energetic advocacy of jazz as a central genre of American music. Collaborating with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, Wynton Marsalis contributed his own more conservative perspective to Burnss twenty-hour documentary, Jazz (2001). Some musicians, such as Miles Davis, thought that Marsaliss ideas of a pure jazz were too conservative, but Marsalis has certainly been responsible for the revival of jazz as an important musical form.

As it has throughout its history, jazz continues to find talented and innovative musicians who continue to reinvent and redefine jazz. Becoming increasingly international and opening slightly to greater participation by women musicians, jazz continues to influence developing musical styles, but its mixture of styles, its contributions to racial integration, and its establishment of a uniquely American form as a central influential musical tradition already form its legacy.

SEE ALSO Music, Psychology of; Popular Music; World Music


Erenberg, Lewis. 1998. Swingin the Dream: Big Band Jazz and the Rebirth of American Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Giddings, Gary. 1998. Visions of Jazz: The First Century. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shack, William. 2001. Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story between the Great Wars. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Shipton, Alyn. 2001. A New History of Jazz. London: Continuum.

Szwed, John. 2000. Jazz 101: The Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz. New York: Hyperion.

Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns. 2000. Jazz: A History of Americas Music. New York: Knopf.

Judith Roof


views updated May 11 2018


When Joseph "King" Oliver died in the spring of 1938, his protégé, Louis Armstrong, and other bandleaders, such as Cab Calloway and Earl Hines, claimed at his funeral that Oliver was the true "king of swing." Others who wore the title, and swing musicians in general, they insinuated, owed a great debt to the leader of the Creole Jazz Band. This was a way of suggesting that the music of the big band era, known as swing since the 1930s, was an out-growth of early forms of jazz. This idea contrasts with the fans' notion that swing music, like New Orleans jazz or Dixieland, is a discrete and separate entity from bebop.

Scholars disagree on how to define jazz and swing, but many assert that the earlier bands of James Reese Europe, Fletcher Henderson, and Duke Ellington, as well as Oliver, were fundamental to swing's evolution. On the eve of World War I, James Europe's orchestra performed at New York City's Carnegie Hall—one full decade before Paul Whiteman and a generation before the jazz concerts of the late 1930s were staged in this hall. James Europe's music grew out of ragtime and popular dance music, as did Henderson's and Ellington's. Don Redman, Henderson's arranger, is often credited with having the reed or brass sections perform passages in call-and-response sequences, but Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton also used this distinctive voicing and organization. Besides employing the rhythms of ragtime and the harmonies of blues and popular dance music, Ellington's compositions and arrangements contained unusual harmonies and unique combinations of instruments.

These outfits, and southwestern orchestras such as those of Alphonso Trent, Bennie Moten, and the Oklahoma City Blue Devils, grew in size from six to eight to twelve and thirteen or more musicians in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In the rhythm section, the string bass replaced the tuba and the guitar was used instead of banjo, and lighter more flexible rhythms were played in 4/4 instead of 2/4. Swing bands also alternated ensemble passages with improvised sections by "hot" soloists, while other band members "riffed" or played highly rhythmic motifs in the background. These exciting new sounds buoyed dancers and musicians alike, sending them into climactic moments when music, musicians, and dancers melded for an evening into a symphony of sound and movement. New jitterbug dances, such as the Lindy Hop and the Big Apple, illustrated these distinctive rhythms with not only new steps, but also highly acrobatic moves in which one partner propelled the other up and away from the floor in what were known as air steps.

These changes occurred gradually, however, and in the 1930s, there were still many bands, African-American and white swing orchestras, that included New Orleans styles, songs, and collective improvisation. Nonetheless, as evident from the 1932 recordings by Fletcher Henderson and Bennie Moten, as well as others, musicians perfected the swing idiom and arrangements in songs such as "King Porter Stomp" and "Moten Swing." By the mid and late 1930s, bands led by Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, and the Dorsey brothers also thrilled jitterbug dancers, as well as radio listeners from coast to coast. The white bands often utilized African-American arrangers—Fletcher Henderson, Sy Oliver, and Eddie Durham—to write the more soulful aspects of swing arrangements.

In several respects, swing bands contained within them the seeds of future developments in music and culture for decades to come. Most if not all of the contemporary dance music in the United States stemmed from this tradition. The enhanced role of the drummers, of long drum solos, of melodies that were basically riffs, and of the incessant dance beat foreshadowed the rhythm and blues of the 1940s, which came to be known as rock and roll in the 1950s. Drummers who were leaders also contributed to these developments; Chick Webb in the 1930s was one of the first to bring drums front and center, a role popularized by Gene Krupa and leading to Max Roach and Art Blakey, among others. In another respect, the small combos within the big bands, Count Basie's Kansas City combos, for example, or Goodman's Quartet, presaged bebop bands, such as those led by Charlie "Bird" Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and progressive jazz ensembles, such as the Modern Jazz Quartet. Even the fusion of European classical music with jazz, as in the compositions, arrangements, and playing of band leaders Artie Shaw and Eddie South, were comparable to Third Stream developments in the 1950s.

In the midst of the Depression, U.S. workers and unemployed men and women danced, socialized, and wooed to hits of the swing era—"One O'Clock Jump," "Mood Indigo," and "In the Mood." Notably during the swing decade, blues moved to the forefront—not the country blues of Blind Lemon Johnson or city blues of Ma Rainey, but the urban versions of this music played by Ellington, Henderson, Basie, and Jimmy Lunceford. By the late 1930s, guitarists Eddie Durham, Charlie Christian, and T-Bone Walker electrified the instrument and amplified the sound, integrating the guitar with large orchestras and using it to solo like a saxophone or trumpet. Their efforts and the combos of Nat "King" Cole, Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart, Stuff Smith, and Louis Jordan led to rock and roll and the music of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and eventually Elvis Presley and the British rock bands. Electrification of the guitar in the 1930s also presaged fusion with the electric piano, bass, and other instruments in the 1970s.

Along with blues and jazz dancing, a distinctive way of speaking, swing slang or jive talk, accompanied the music and was even adopted in articles about the music and musicians. Some attributed this slang to Louis Armstrong's influence, but the jazz world, the underworld, and entertainment circles have always had their distinctive argots. These merged in the swing band milieu, and expressions such as "Hit that jive, jack" and "Let's get racy with Count Basie" punctuated the repartee and banter of not only musicians, but dancers, listeners, writers, and others in the "hip" crowd and became part of common parlance. Even the humor of, for example, "Nagasaki," "Flat Foot Floogie," and "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?" was to be found in rock and roll songs of subsequent decades.

The social aspects of swing bands were as important as the music, as they provided staging grounds for assaults on racial segregation. In jam sessions, white musicians and black musicians performed together on the bandstand, a practice that was illegal in the South because it meant racial integration. Bandleaders such as Benny Carter hired white musicians, and Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw hired black musicians, a practice that was a frontal assault on segregation. Integrated bands traveling in the South encountered threats of arrest or violence when they defied the law by demanding equal rights for all band members. Up north, Billie Holiday, Oran "Hot Lips" Page, and others fought back in nightclubs and bars when whites attacked them. Thus, in a social sense as well as in the music, dance, and language, swing prepared the ground for future developments in subsequent decades of the twentieth century.



Allen, Walter C. Hendersonia: The Music of Fletcher Henderson and His Musicians. 1973.

Bryant, Clora, et al., eds. Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles. 1998.

Dahl, Linda. Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams. 1999.

Dance, Stanley. The World of Count Basie. 1980.

Dance, Stanley. The World of Earl Hines. 1977.

Daniels, Douglas Henry. Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester 'Pres' Young. 2002.

Ellington, Edward Kennedy. Music Is My Mistress. 1973.

Margolick, David. Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Café Society, and An Early Cry for Civil Rights. 2000.

O'Meally, Robert G. Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday. 1991.

Murray, Albert. Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie. 1985.

Pearson, Nathan W., Jr. Goin' to Kansas City. 1987.

Russell, Ross. Jazz Style in Kansas City and the Southwest. 1971.

Shaw, Artie. The Trouble with Cinderella: An Outline of Identity. 1952.

Douglas Henry Daniels


views updated May 18 2018


JAZZ as a term can act as an adjective, noun, or verb, and refers to a performance method or the music itself that is called jazz. The term was only applied to music around 1915 and was even then disliked by some musicians because it was a vulgar term for sexual intercourse. Jazz music encompasses many substyles that can be characterized by comparative time periods, geography, style, ensemble, function, venue, and audience. The importance of individuality and improvisatory interaction in jazz, requiring mastery of expression and technical skill, should not be underestimated.


Like the blues, jazz was at first an oral tradition founded by African Americans as a passionate expression of social condition, combining both African American and European American influences. New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, was a slave trade port, and its Congo Square was a gathering place on Sundays for the African Americans who danced, sang of their history and ritual with expressive African inflections, and played drums. In the late

1800s, European American music, spirituals, Creole music, and the same African American field hollers and work songs that influenced blues infuenced this oral tradition.

Another early influence on New Orleans jazz was Ragtime, which began to be published around 1890 and became the first African American tradition to gain widespread popularity. Ragtime's primary musical model was the marching band, and most of its repertoire was for piano, such as the rags of St. Louis's Scott Joplin and Harlem's James P. Johnson. Larger ragtime ensembles called syncopated orchestras (syncopation was a prominent ragtime feature) were also popular in America and Europe; one of the most famous was James Reese Europe's Clef Club Orchestra. In addition, Europe founded what could possibly be the first modern association of African American musicians, also called Clef Club.

New Orleans was a melting pot of African, Caribbean, Creole, European, and local traditions. Its small bands played in parades, funerals, and other social gatherings and were typified by a celebratory spirit and rhythmic intensity. Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, and Jelly Roll Morton began their careers in New Orleans and became some of the greatest soloists of the time. Most jazz in New Orleans was performed as dance music in the venues of Storyville (the red-light district between 1896 and 1917). When Storyville closed, many musicians migrated to Chicago, Kansas City, and New York to find employment.

The Jazz Age and Modernity (1920s)

The displaced Dixieland sounds characterized the Jazz Age. Some believe the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (founded 1916), set a standard that started the Jazz Age, while others point to King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (founded 1922) in Chicago. Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five (1925) are often credited with exemplifying the spirit of the era. New York became the center for jazz performance and recording after 1925. By 1930, successful artists included Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Benny Carter.

The Jazz Age characterized the sound of modernity because it emphasized the individual voice and had a great impact on genres and styles in the visual arts, including film, and modernist literature, in works by such authors as Langston Hughes and T. S. Eliot. Socially, musicians were successful in presenting jazz to the general public as well as making strides in overcoming racial boundaries.

The Big-Band Swing Era (1930–1940s)

As early as 1924, Louis Armstrong was in New York playing with Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, and by the mid-1930s, swing style was already widely popular. The term "swing" was first used to describe the lively rhythmic style of Armstrong's playing and also refers to swing dance music.

Duke Ellington, best known for his colorful orchestration, led a group that played at Harlem's Cotton Club; Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie led other successful orchestras. While these big bands came to characterize the New York jazz scene during the Great Depression, they were contrasted with the small, impoverished jazz groups that played at rent parties and the like. During this time the performer was thoroughly identified by popular culture as an entertainer, the only regular venue was the nightclub, and African American music became synonymous with American dance music. The big-band era was also allied with another popular genre, the mainly female jazz vocalists who soloed with the orchestras. Singers such as Billie Holiday modernized popular-song lyrics, although some believe the idiom was more akin to white Tin Pan Alley than to jazz.

Some believe that the big band at its peak represented the golden era of jazz because it became part of the cultural mainstream. Others, however, consider it furthest from the ideal of jazz's artistic individuality.

Bebop, Post-Bop, Hard Bop, and Free Jazz (1940s–1960s)

Post–World War II jazz contrasted with the big bands and had parallels with abstract expressionist painters and Beat writers. It was not dance music and was primarily played by smaller ensembles and often called combo jazz. The new style was more harmonically challenging, maintained a high level of virtuosity, and pushed the established language to its extremes. Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie "Bird" Parker, and Stan Getz played in this new style. In the late 1940s and 1950s this style, described onomatopoeically as bebop, became even more complex.

A smoother, more relaxed "cool" sound, a reaction to the intensity of bebop, was developed by Miles Davis in his 1949 album Birth of the Cool; it is often called mainstream jazz and was successful into the 1970s. Cool performers in the 1950s, including Davis, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Dave Brubeck, gained popularity for jazz as an art. There were many other post-bop styles, such as

modal jazz (based on musical modes), funk (which reprised early jazz), and fusion, which blended jazz and rock and included electronic instruments. Miles Davis in his later career and Chick Corea were two influential fusion artists.

Hard bop was a continuation of bebop but in a more accessible style played by artists such as John Coltrane. Ornette Coleman (1960) developed avant-garde free jazz, a style based on the ideas of Thelonius Monk, in which free improvisation was central to the style.

Postmodern Jazz Since 1980

Hybridity, a greater degree of fusion, and traditional jazz revivals merely touch the surface of the variety of styles that make up contemporary jazz. Inclusive of many types of world music, it is accessible, socially conscious, and draws almost equally from its vast musical past. Performers such as David Grisman, B. B. King, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Tito Puente attest to this variety. Since the 1980s, mainstream jazz education has developed, along with more serious concern for the study of jazz documentation and scholarship.


Clark, Andrew, ed. Riffs and Choruses: A New Jazz Anthology. London and New York: Continuum, 2001.

Erlewine, Michael, et al., eds. All Music Guide to Jazz: The Experts' Guide to the Best Jazz Recordings. 3d ed. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1998.

Gridley, Mark C. Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Kirchner, Bill, ed. The Oxford Companion to Jazz. Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Monson, Ingrid. Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Inter-action. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Townsend, Peter. Jazz in American Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000; Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2000.

Christina Linsenmeyer-vanSchalkwyk

See alsoMusic: African American .


views updated May 18 2018


Jazz music in the United States has roots dating back to the arrival of the first African American slaves in North America. Originally, the blues sound was a combination of rhythms made by instruments brought from Africa, combined with the fiddle strains and songs from white settlers from the British Isles. This blend evolved until it emerged in the 1890s as a type of music called ragtime. Ragtime eventually became jazz.

New Orleans, Louisiana , is considered the birthplace of jazz. Most early residents of New Orleans were Creole, people of Spanish, French, or African descent, and the early musicians brought the sound of their particular heritage to create a genre of jazz that became known as Dixieland. Another term for this type of music, which was played on brass instruments, is creole jazz. Dixieland music is marching band music with offbeat rhythms and improvised solos. Early Dixieland musicians included pianist Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton (1885–1941) and cornet player Joe “King” Oliver (1885–1938). Morton is considered to be the first jazz composer.

Leaders of the band

One of the most famous jazz musicians was Louis Armstrong (1901–1971). Armstrong was born in New Orleans and learned to play the cornet as a young teen. Throughout the 1920s, he performed in Chicago, Illinois , and New York City, eventually landing a long-term engagement at Connie's Inn, a popular and glamorous nightclub in New York City's Harlem. Armstrong became known for his ability to improvise. His career spanned decades and included performing on Broadway and singing. He is heralded as a key figure in the evolution of jazz music.

Often taking jazz in new directions was Miles Davis (1926–1991), a jazz trumpeter and composer. While never as technically talented as some of his contemporaries, Davis was influential in jazz circles for his style, which became known as cool jazz.

Another jazz great was Duke Ellington (1899–1974), who regularly performed at the Cotton Club, a music hot spot of the 1920s. Ellington played piano but was most influential as a composer and bandleader. Along with bandleader Fletcher Henderson (1898–1952), he created the Big Band sound, which features a jazz orchestra with more than one musician playing each instrument. Ellington's signature sound was one that incorporated mutes and growl techniques in the horns.

Thomas “Fats” Waller (1904–1943) was another jazz great who made a name for himself playing piano in Harlem nightclubs. Jazz was the premier genre of music throughout the 1920s, and its popularity knew no bounds. Paul Whiteman (1890–1967) was a bandleader who was promoted as the Jazz King. His most famous contribution to jazz was a 1924 concert that introduced the new song “Rhapsody in Blue,” written by George Gershwin (1898–1937). George and his brother Ira (1896–1983) were the most successful songwriters of the Jazz Age, and their music combined elements from jazz, classical, and even opera. These crossover sounds found a strong fan base in white audiences.

Beyond the Jazz Age

As America entered the Great Depression (1929–41), jazz decreased in popularity. Its sound was simply too celebratory, and Americans were not in any mood to celebrate. Millions had lost their jobs and homes, and their daily lives were a struggle. The new music of choice was folk music , the lyrics of which reflected this new experience of loss and injustice.

There were a couple of exceptions. Ella Fitzgerald (1917–1996) enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a jazz singer. She began singing jazz with the orchestra of bandleader Chick Webb (1909–1939) in the mid-1930s. Before the end of the decade, she had recorded several hit songs and gained notoriety. Fitzgerald left the band in 1942 to embark on what would be a successful solo career. Benny Goodman (1909–1986) was another popular jazz musician whose clarinet style eventually fused into a type of music called swing. Goodman was one of only a few white jazz musicians who was able to build a career with his music.

Jazz had its loyal followers, however. Music of the 1940s included jazz, but its sounds were often incorporated and mixed with those of classical, blues, and swing. Jazz pianist William “Count” Basie (1904–1984) was also a bandleader whose band performed for more than fifty years. He incorporated jazz in a structured, orchestral setting and his band backed some of the most prominent jazz vocalists of the time, including Billie Holiday (1915–1959), Lester Young (1909–1959), and Herschel Evans (1909–1939). Pianist Thelonious Monk (1920–1982) made his first recordings in the mid-1940s and often collaborated with other jazz greats including saxophonist Sonny Rollins (1930–), saxophonist John Coltrane (1926–1967), Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker (1920–1955).

Charlie “Yardbird” Parker was a jazz saxophonist considered by historians to be one of the great jazz pioneers. Parker's sound eventually fused into a form of jazz called bebop. This form is characterized by fast tempos and improvisations that are based on harmony rather than melody. Parker's work in 1945 with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (1917–1993) took the jazz world by storm.

The first annual Newport Jazz Festival was established in July 1954. This was an act of courage on the part of socialites Elaine and Louis Lorillard. Among wealthy white crowds, jazz was considered inappropriate for the more sedate, proper country-club audiences. But six thousand jazz lovers paid up to $5 a ticket for the two-day Rhode Island program. Twenty-six thousand fans attended the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival and were entertained by two hundred musicians. The event moved to New York City in 1972 and became a two-site festival when it returned to Newport in 1981. Since 1986, it has been known as the JVC Jazz Festival.

The 1960s, like the 1930s, featured folk music, again, because its lyrics reflected the political and social unrest of the era. The 1970s were not notable for jazz music, either, although some musicians experimented with jazz-rock fusion. The early 1980s saw artists like Pat Metheny (1954–), Al Jarreau (1940–), George Benson (1943–), Chuck Mangione (1940–), and Kenny G (1956–) on the charts. Not one of these musicians was a jazz purist, but each mixed jazz sounds with other genres such as pop, rhythm and blues, and fusion. In an era of mixed sound, two names stood out in jazz circles. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (1961–) surprised the jazz world with his mastery of technique. By the time he was nineteen years old, Marsalis had signed a contract with a major recording label. Having studied classical music as a teen, Marsalis became the first musician ever to win Grammy Awards in both jazz and classical in the same year (1984).

Harry Connick Jr. (1967–) reached stardom at the age of twenty when he released his first recording in 1988. Connick's New Orleans–style piano playing and smooth vocals made him a favorite crossover artist whose music was played on jazz and pop music radio stations. Like his contemporary Marsalis, he had studied both classical and jazz; at one point, he had studied piano under the tutelage of Marsalis's father, Ellis.

Although jazz was not one of the more popular music genres of the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century, it maintained a loyal following. Some new musicians arrived on the scene, most notably singer-pianist Diana Krall (1964–). In an era when musicians relied upon elaborate stage performances and music videos to enhance their acts and popularity, jazz musicians had difficulty competing.


views updated May 29 2018


A genre of music that developed in the early twentieth century in the United States, jazz represents a mixture of European, American, and African tribal musical elements linked to African-American folk traditions and often performed by ensembles of African-American musicians. The word jazz is believed to have come from the Creole word jass, which refers to African dance or to copulation. The term jazz first appeared in print in a March 1913 edition of the San Francisco Bulletin in reference to peppy dance music. Associated from its beginning with New Orleans, nightlife, decadence, alcohol, loose living, sexuality, primitivism, and African Americans, jazz became an immensely popular and influential form of musical performance that nonetheless retained its sexy and licentious connotations.

Since its appearance as popular music, jazz has been associated with sexuality. Originally linked to what were believed to be the more openly sexual attitudes of African Americans, jazz's connections to most forms of dance and courting during the first half of the twentieth century perpetuated its association with sex. The foundation of much of the dance music from the 1920s on, jazz's syncopations provoked changes in styles of dance from more formal waltzes and fox-trots to dances that permitted more suggestive touching, bodily intimacy, and athleticism. The association between jazz and loose living lingered even in the big band performances of the 1930s and 1940s, continuing the fascinations of a sexually inflected nightclub culture in big cities (often linked to speakeasies) and to ballrooms and other sites where dance led to other, more sexual forms of entertainment.

In the early twentieth century the term jazz applied to a broad range of musical styles and there was no consensus about what the term jazz meant. Early-twenty-first-century music critics and historians generally agree that jazz consists of a "collectively improvised music, with syncopated rhythms over a strong underlying pulse" (Shipton 2001, p. 5). The seeds of jazz originated in a combination of ragtime—or songs with a syncopated rhythm—blues, and marching band music played in New Orleans around the turn of the twentieth century. Developed in Louisiana during the first decade of the twentieth century by such pioneering musicians as Buddy Bolden, jazz went north to Chicago in the late 1910s with some New Orleans jazz groups and performers, such as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and Jelly Roll Morton. Joining Oliver in the north was trumpet prodigy Louis Armstrong, who helped develop the rapid rhythmic style known as "hot jazz."

Going north with jazz was its association with what was regarded as the more primitive sexuality of African-American nightlife. Continuing to develop more or less simultaneously in New Orleans, Kansas City, and Chicago, jazz became the basis for a social dancing and nightclub life that became more openly sexual. As more mainstream orchestra leaders such as Paul Whiteman began adapting jazz styles to larger ensembles, jazz itself became more mainstream, centering jazz's sexual connotations as a permanent aspect of popular music.

Through the early part of the twentieth century, jazz bands were segregated. Although black bands played in popular venues and clubs in the urban north, they were often less commercially successful because they did not have as lucrative or mainstream possibilities for recording their music. But they did find more acceptance in Europe, as jazz spread quickly to France, where American black jazz musicians were often welcomed with open arms. Europeans were not unaware of the link between jazz and sexuality as they, too, flocked to nightclubs featuring jazz bands and more licentious forms of dancing. Europeans were fascinated with what they regarded as the erotic suggestiveness of jazz and other African-American performances, such as Josephine Baker's dance routines.

The swing jazz style of the 1930s and 1940s completed the merger of jazz and popular music, making orchestral jazz the primary music for dating, dancing, and most entertainment. Band singers such as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, and Rosemary Clooney emerged from the nightclub swing scene to become either romantic crooners or blues icons of the day. In the 1940s, many musicians who would form the center of jazz's next significant transition—including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Christian—began to work in large swing bands. In the mid-1940s, these musicians, along with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and others, emerged with a new form of jazz known as "bop" that countered the white appropriation of jazz forms. Bop, or "bebop," transformed jazz from big band swing entertainment into an art characterized by the prominence of soloists who played complex, rapid improvisations in business suits and developed an entire aesthetic of cool. No longer the popular music of the masses, jazz became more aloof, intellectual, and difficult, and aimed at connoisseurs.

Although its musicians were still linked to the club life with which jazz had always been associated, bebop jazz began to move away from the more openly sexual connotations of jazz into a "cooler" jazz culture in which music, drugs, and sex were increasingly sophisticated. Bebop led into the invention of other jazz movements such as "cool jazz," which was less frenetic, but still as focused on artistry. Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, and Chet Baker developed the cool style, still played by small ensembles of soloists. Cool jazz was joined by "hard bop," a bluesy style developed by the Jazz Messengers, which included Blakey, Horace Silver, and Lee Morgan.

After the rise of bebop in the 1940s, jazz produced a number of styles and theories, but other than continuing to influence popular music styles from a greater distance, it no longer played as direct a role in popular entertainment—especially as the music for social dancing. It retained an aura of nightclubs, drugs, and loose living, but became less associated with the sexual freedom of earlier styles. The 1950 and 1960s saw the continued development of multiple jazz styles—such as free jazz and soul jazz—that were associated in part with another attempt to reappropriate jazz as a black tradition. Although jazz was still associated with sexuality, its aura had shifted from the free and easy aura of a sexualized entertainment to the mysterious world of cool artistry that fascinated such "Beat" artists as Jack Kerouac.

Jazz evolved through the twentieth century as a musical form derived from folk practices that became popular mass entertainment. It continues as a form more appealing to cognoscenti but still influencing other musical forms. Jazz musicians, like most entertainers, became objects of curiosity. Their lives were under scrutiny, and their relationships under pressure from the demands of performance.


Giddings, Gary. 1998. Visions of Jazz: The First Century. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shack, William A. 2001. Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story between the Great Wars. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Shipton, Alyn. 2001. A New History of Jazz. London: Continuum.

Szwed, John F. 2000. Jazz 101: The Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz. New York: Hyperion.

Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns. 2000. Jazz: A History of America's Music. New York: Knopf.

                                          Judith Roof


views updated May 21 2018


Jazz music is one of the most original and innovative of American musical forms. Throughout the twentieth century, jazz evolved to encompass a variety of complex styles and it produced some of the century's greatest composers and musicians.

Jazz originated in the early 1900s, mostly in the South, and especially in New Orleans, Louisiana. Drawing from African American blues and ragtime music, jazz added more complex rhythms and a wider range of tones to create a new style. As it developed in the 1910s and 1920s, a number of important early innovators took jazz in new directions, including Joseph "King" Oliver (1885–1938), Sidney Bechet (1897–1959), Jelly Roll Morton (1890–1941), and especially trumpeter Louis Armstrong (1901–1971). Armstrong was a phenomenal soloist, and he moved the solo instrument to the forefront of jazz. Jazz music often began with a single melody, and then various soloists would add their own touches to it until it became their own. While African American jazz artists such as Armstrong were creating new innovations in jazz, white musicians and band leaders, such as Paul Whiteman (1890–1967), brought a softer version of jazz to white audiences for dancing (see entry under 1900s—The Way We Lived in volume 1) in the 1920s.

In the 1930s and early 1940s, jazz moved into what was called the "swing era." Bands got bigger and the music became more popular. Rather than consisting of small groups of five to seven musicians, now the big bands (see entry under 1930s—Music in volume 2) might be as large as twenty people, including four to five trumpet players, four to five saxophone players, a drummer, a bassist, and often vocalists. During this time, African American bands continued to be the most innovative. The band led by Fletcher Henderson (1897–1952) was extremely popular, as was the band of Count Basie (1904–1984). Both were known for their driving rhythms and great sound. Even more important was Duke Ellington (1899–1974), who led his own band but was even more important for his songwriting. Ellington wrote popular songs such as "Take the 'A' Train" and "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing." He also extended jazz in a new direction by writing longer pieces of music that resembled classical music in their complexity. His composition "Black, Brown, and Beige," a musical history of African Americans, is a notable example of this development. Following these African American musical leaders, white band leaders such as Benny Goodman (1909–1986), Tommy Dorsey (1905–1956), and Glenn Miller (1904–1944) also made jazz music that excited dancers and listeners, both black and white.

Jazz's popularity as "swing" or "big band" music led younger black musicians in the mid-1940s to break out in a new direction. Feeling that popular jazz music was too simple and bland, musicians such as Charlie Parker (1920–1955), Dizzy Gillespie (1917–1993), Thelonious Monk (1917–1982), and Bud Powell (1924–1966) created a new style called "bebop." Bebop was not dance music. It had complex rhythms and lightning-fast solo note runs that favored innovation and personal expression over melody. Parker and Gillespie showcased this new style in such compositions such as "Ornithology," "Ko-Ko," and "Salt Peanuts." Both big bands and swing music faded in the 1950s as rock and roll (see entry under 1950s—Music in volume 3) became more popular, but jazz in the bebop style continued. Bebop did not draw the large crowds of dancing fans, but it continued to excite loyal listeners in jazz clubs and concert halls across the United States.

In the 1950s and 1960s, jazz moved in new directions again. Bebop continued, including a more soulful version called "hard bop," but the music also developed in other ways. "Cool jazz" emerged under the influence of trumpeter Miles Davis (1926–1991). This style was more introspective and subdued, evoking a wider range of moods than the fiery-fast bebop style. Davis' album The Birth of the Cool remains a landmark work in this style. This period also saw the rise of new and important jazz musicians. Bassist Charles Mingus (1922–1979) brought gospel and blues back into jazz. Mingus also wrote musical works that expressed political views and commented on the problems of racism in America. John Coltrane (1926–1967) emerged on the saxophone as one of the most impressive soloists in the history of jazz on albums such as Blue Train, Giant Steps, and A Love Supreme. This era also produced important white jazz musicians, including pianist and composer Dave Brubeck (1920–), who had hits with his songs "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo à la Turk," both of which used complex time signatures and rhythms, and saxophonist Stan Getz (1927–1991), who helped fuse Brazilian bossa nova styles with jazz in a way that became very popular in the early 1960s.

In the later 1960s and into the 1970s, jazz continued to move in new directions. "Free" jazz or "avant-garde" jazz took bebop one step further in exciting but difficult compositions that moved away from the standard song and melody composition form. Musicians such as Ornette Coleman (1930–) and Cecil Taylor (1929–) experimented with new and often dissonant sounds (sounding harsh and lacking harmony) in their music. In the 1970s, jazz fusion emerged as a way to combine jazz and rock styles. Musicians such as John McLaughlin (1942–), Chick Corea (1941–), and Herbie Hancock (1940–) used electric guitars and keyboards to extend jazz's sound.

In the 1980s, 1990s, and beyond, jazz music moved on a number of levels. Fusion merged into a lighter, more commercial, form of jazz that many people did not consider jazz at all. Young players continued to emerge, both in the traditional jazz styles and in new innovative ways. Among the most popular of the traditionalists was Wynton Marsalis (1961–). He was also instrumental in forming and leading the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, a group dedicated to keeping alive the classics of jazz. Thus, by the end of the twentieth century, jazz no longer had the popularity it did in the 1930s and 1940s, but it had kept its loyal fans and continued to attract new ones. Because jazz includes so many diverse styles and artists that there is something for everyone to enjoy, jazz keeps its place as one of the most important of American musical styles.

—Timothy Berg

For More Information

Burns, Ken, writer and director. Jazz (video). PBS-TV, 2000.

Collier, James Lincoln. The Making of Jazz: A Comprehensive History. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1978.

Giddins, Gary. Visions of Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Gioia, Ted. The History of Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Hentoff, Nat, and Nat Shapiro. Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: An Oral History of Jazz. New York: Dover, 1966.

Lee, Jeanne. Jam!: The Story of Jazz Music. New York: Rosen, 1999.

Meltzer, David, ed. Reading Jazz. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1993.

Public Broadcasting System. Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns.http://www.pbs.org/jazz (accessed January 7, 2002).

Seymour, Gene. Jazz: The Great American Art. New York: Franklin Watts, 1995.


views updated May 14 2018



The diffusion of jazz in Europe was a major musical phenomenon of the twentieth century that combined creativity with "Americanization" of the musical culture. Jazz brought European music a new kind of acoustical freedom. What follows briefly develops the phases of this history at the expense of portraits of individual artists.

Jazz, black American music with African roots, developed at the end of the nineteenth century, predominantly in the southern United States. Its two principal roots were vocal—the religious spirituals and the profane blues. However, when this music spread to Europe in the first decade of the twentieth century, it was first exposed in orchestral form while retaining, from its vocal origins, an original and highly expressive instrumental performing style modeled on the human voice.

Several other attributes characterize early jazz heard in Europe after World War I. First, jazz is a physical and sensual music. Rhythmic structure plays a key role both in composition of the orchestra and in the structure of the musical pieces themselves. Indeed, a jazz band typically included a tripartite rhythm section of bass, drums, and guitar or banjo (sometimes piano), and a melodic section of one or two cornets, trombone, clarinet, and at times a violin. Rhythm was essential to the music, and "swing" became a defining element. Second, jazz was partly "functional," and the early jazz bands played a good deal of European dance music. Third, jazz is a "living" music rather than formally composed, an art in which performance is more important than composition. With improvisations, solos, and variations, the role of interpretation is paramount. Finally, jazz was also a music of black people. Race prejudice in Europe was much different from that found in the United States. Coming to popularity during the era of European colonialism, jazz acquired special status as a "roots" music and enjoyed the appeal of authenticity.

Jazz became popular in Europe in several phases. The first black musicians in Europe were American soldiers during World War I, most memorably those with the 369th Regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters, and with the 350th Artillery Corps, called the Seventy Black Devils. In February and March 1918, the Hellfighters toured for six weeks, visiting some twenty-five French cities, though not exclusively playing jazz. Other groups about the same time, predominantly composed of white musicians, performed in London and Paris. In 1919 in London, the Swiss orchestral conductor Ernest Ansermet (1883–1969) heard the Will Marion Cook band with Sidney Bechet (1897–1959) and upon returning to the Continent praised their performance in the review Revue romande.

In the 1920s jazz was in vogue in Europe. In 1925 the musical review, La revue nègre, was a huge and scandalous success. European dance orchestras began including drums, banjos, and saxophones. Jazz triumphed at the music hall and significantly influenced classical musicians. A market developed for records from the United States.

Enthusiasm for jazz continued to spread in the 1930s. Some of the American jazz stars toured in Europe, including Louis Armstrong in 1932 and Duke Ellington in 1933. In 1932 a small group of enthusiasts in Paris formed the Hot Club of France (HCF), led by Hugues Panassié, whose mission it became to educate the public about jazz. Beginning in 1933, the HCF organized concerts and the next year started to issue recordings, organizing the record company Swing in 1937. It published a review, Jazz Hot, beginning in 1935. The quintet of the Hot Club of France with Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt was the first European group genuinely able to compete with American groups. Others would follow.

In Britain as well, an indigenous brand of jazz appeared in the 1930s. Musicians with a background in brass fanfare, such as Tommy McQuater and George Chisholm, began to play jazz, and some went on to record in New York—Spike Hughes, in 1933 with the Benny Carter Orchestra, is a good example. Although Germany prohibited jazz after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, jazz spread to Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. During War World II, jazz benefited from overseas appeal as a symbol of liberty. After the war, jazz was welcomed on European radio stations, such as the Jazz Club on the BBC, and could be heard on stage in prestigious theater venues, such as the Salle Pleyel. Bebop, which became highly popular in the United States, also won passionate fans in Europe. Jazz in its various styles in the 1950s became part of the new style of sociability at that time, symbolic of the postwar recovery of musical freedom.

In the 1960s jazz musicians began reorienting their work toward investigations of sound and rhythm, questioning the nature of composed music. Free jazz, rock jazz, jazz fusion, and neobop helped broaden the audience and led to diversification of styles. Finally, beginning in the 1970s, jazz won institutional legitimacy. European festivals became an important showcase for musicians. In France, in particular, conservatories began to teach jazz, and the Orchestre National de Jazz was formed, a durable unit of about twenty musicians with a distinctive sound. One should also mention the Académie de Jazz, founded in 1955, which dispenses prizes and awards.

Since the 1930s jazz has exercised tremendous influence on entertainment generally and has become an integral part of the artistic landscape in the broad sense of the term. By the end of the twentieth century, jazz had become world music.

See alsoAmericanization; Baker, Josephine; Popular Culture.


Delaunay, Charles. Django, mon frère. Paris, 1968.

Hodeir, André. Hommes et problèmes du jazz. Paris, 1954. Rev. ed., Marseille, 1981.

Malson, Lucien. Histoire du jazz et de la musique afroaméricaine. Paris, 1994.

Panassié, Hugues. Le jazz hot. Paris, 1934.

——. La véritable musique de jazz. Paris, 1938. Rev. ed., Paris, 1946.

Stearns, Marshall Winslow. The Story of Jazz. New York, 1956.

Tournès, Ludovic. New Orleans sur Seine: Histoire du jazz en France. Paris, 1999.

Sophie A. Leterrier


views updated May 11 2018

jazz (etymology obscure). A term, which came into general use c.1913–15, for a type of mus. which developed in the Southern States of USA in the late 19th cent. and came into prominence at the turn of the century in New Orleans, chiefly (but not exclusively) among black musicians. Elements which contributed to jazz were the rhythms of W. Africa, European harmony, and Amer. ‘gospel’ singing. Before the term jazz was used, ragtime was the popular name for this genre. Ragtime lasted from c.1890 to c.1917. It was an instr. style, highly syncopated, with the pf. predominant (though a few rags had words and were sung). Among the leading exponents of the pf. rag were Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and J. P. Johnson, with the cornettists Buddy Bolden and King Oliver. Some rags were notated (e.g. Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag) but the majority were improvised. About 1900 also, the ‘blues’ craze began. ‘Blues’ implies a largely vocal form and a depressed frame of mind on the part of the perf. The form originated from Negro spirituals, and made use of a blend of major and minor harmony, and non-tempered scale intervals. In instr. blues the prominent instrs. were tpt., cornet, cl., sax., or tb. A leading figure of the blues era was the black composer W. C. Handy whose Memphis Blues (1909) and St Louis Blues (1914) are jazz classics. Outstanding blues singers have been Bessie Smith and, later, Billie Holiday.

The subsequent history of jazz has embraced a diversity of styles, e.g. Dixieland, from c.1912, which borrowed elements from both ragtime and blues and made a feature of group improvisation led by the trumpeter. The principal Dixieland musicians included the trumpeters King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, the trombonists Kid Ory and Jack Teagarden, the saxophonist Sidney Bechet, the pianists Jelly Roll Morton and Earl Hines. In the 1920s, jazz became more sophisticated as it spread to New York, Paris, and London and became a social ‘rage’. The jazz arranger emerged and with him the bigger band: harmony became more conventional, melodies were played by a full instr. section with the solos as central display-pieces, like cadenzas. These ‘big bands’ had marked individual styles. Paul Whiteman popularized ‘symphonic jazz’ using vns. and elaborate arrs. At the other extreme was the Negro style of Duke Ellington, the first great jazz composer. A ‘Chicago’ style revived smaller bands and more improvisation (its star was the trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke).

The 1930s coincided with the style known as ‘swing’. The swing bands—led by such virtuoso instrumentalists as Benny Goodman (cl.), Jimmy Dorsey (alto sax.), Gene Krupa (drums), Glenn Miller (tb.), Tommy Dorsey (tb.), Artie Shaw (cl.)—concentrated on precision, arr., and good ens. work. Though Ellington's band was influenced by swing, its members were such superb players and such strong individualists that improvisation still played a large part in his comps. Swing yielded in the 1940s to ‘be-bop’, principally for smaller groups of perhaps 7 players. Rhythm was the prime feature of be-bop, allied to scat singing (vocalizing to nonsense syllables). Tempi were fast and great virtuosity was needed. The dominant player was the alto saxophonist Charlie Parker (1920–55). Also important were Dizzy Gillespie (trumpeter), Stan Getz (tenor saxophonist), and Kenny Clarke and Max Roach (drummers). ‘Be-bop’ was later rechristened ‘modern jazz’. Among its derivatives were ‘cool’ jazz, led by Getz and Miles Davis, and by Shorty Rogers (tpt.) and Lennie Tristano (pf.). In the 1960s ‘free jazz’ was pioneered but the jazz scene was overshadowed by the emergence of ‘pop’ and the pop groups, e.g. the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and many others, these comprising usually a vocalist, guitarist(s), and perc. ‘Hard rock’ was a development from this period, and elec. instrs. were commandeered, as in other branches of mus.

The influence of jazz on so-called ‘serious music’ has been widespread and beneficial. Ives composed ragtime pieces for th. orch. as early as 1902; Debussy in 1908 wrote the Golliwogg's Cakewalk; Ravel used the blues in his vn. sonata, and both his pf. concs. are jazz-influenced; Stravinsky wrote ragtime pieces and composed the Ebony Concerto (1945) for Woody Herman; Hindemith, Poulenc, Weill, Krenek, Lambert, Copland, and Tippett all used jazz features, as did Berg in Lulu. Duke Ellington and Bill Russo are among the leading composers of jazz, while those who have written works throwing a bridge between jazz and symphonic forms incl. Gershwin, Rolf Liebermann, Leonard Bernstein, Gunther Schuller, Richard Rodney Bennett, and John Dankworth.


views updated Jun 08 2018

jazz / jaz/ • n. a type of music of black American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano are particularly associated with jazz, although guitar and occasionally violin are also used; styles include Dixieland, swing, bebop, and free jazz. ∎ inf. enthusiastic or lively talk, esp. when considered exaggerated or insincere: all this jazz about how they can't afford it is preposterous.• v. [intr.] dated play or dance to jazz music.PHRASES: and all that jazz inf. and such similar things: oh, love, life, and all that jazz.PHRASAL VERBS: jazz something up make something more lively or cheerful: jazz up an all-white kitchen with red tiles.DERIVATIVES: jazz·er n.


views updated Jun 08 2018

jazz Style of music that evolved in the USA in the late 19th century out of African and European folk music, and spiritual and popular songs. It is traditionally characterized by improvization, steady rhythm, and prominence of melody, often with elements derived from the blues. Early jazz developed in New Orleans, becoming known as Dixieland music. In the 1920s, it spread to Chicago and New York City. In the 1930s, swing enjoyed great popularity, as did the be-bop style of the 1940s. Modern jazz incorporates many musical forms.