Portal:Jazz

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Jazz is a genre of music that originated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Jazz emerged in many parts of the United States of independent popular musical styles; linked by the common bonds of European American and African American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz makes heavy use of improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note, as well as aspects of European harmony, American popular music, the brass band tradition, and African musical elements such as blue notes and ragtime. A musical group that plays jazz is called a jazz band.

As jazz spread around the world, it drew on different national, regional, and local musical cultures, giving rise to many distinctive styles: New Orleans jazz dating from the early 1910s, big band swing, Kansas City jazz and Gypsy jazz from the 1930s and 1940s, bebop from the mid-1940s, Afro-Cuban jazz, West Coast jazz, ska jazz, cool jazz, Indo jazz, avant-garde jazz, soul jazz, modal jazz, chamber jazz, free jazz, Latin jazz, smooth jazz, jazz fusion and jazz rock, jazz funk, loft jazz, punk jazz, acid jazz, ethno jazz, jazz rap, M-Base and nu jazz.

Louis Armstrong, one of the most famous musicians in jazz, said to Bing Crosby on the latter's radio show, "Ah, swing, well, we used to call it syncopation, then they called it ragtime, then blues, then jazz. Now, it's swing."

In a 1988 interview, jazz musician J. J. Johnson said, "Jazz is restless. It won't stay put and it never will". (Full article...)

Selected article

Horace Silver

Hard bop is a subgenre of jazz that is an extension of bebop (or "bop") music. Journalists and record companies began using the term in the mid-1950s to describe a new current within jazz which incorporated influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and blues, especially in saxophone and piano playing.

David H. Rosenthal contends in his book Hard Bop that the genre is, to a large degree, the natural creation of a generation of African-American musicians who grew up at a time when bop and rhythm and blues were the dominant forms of black American music. Prominent hard bop musicians included Horace Silver (pictured), Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and Tadd Dameron. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Brad Mehldau.jpg

Bradford Alexander "Brad" Mehldau (/ˈmɛlˌd/; born August 23, 1970) is an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger.

Mehldau studied music at The New School, and toured and recorded while still a student. He was a member of saxophonist Joshua Redman's Quartet with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade in the mid-1990s, and has led his own trio since at least 1992. His first long-term trio featured bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy; in 2005 Jeff Ballard replaced Rossy. These bands have released a dozen albums under the pianist's name.

Since the early 2000s Mehldau has experimented with other musical formats in addition to trio and solo piano. Largo, released in 2002, contains electronics and input from rock and classical musicians; later examples include touring and recording with guitarist Pat Metheny, writing and playing song cycles for classical singers Renée Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter, composing orchestral pieces for 2009's Highway Rider, and playing electronic keyboard instruments in a duo with drummer Mark Guiliana.

Aspects of pop, rock, and classical music, including German Romanticism, have been absorbed into Mehldau's writing and playing. Through his use of some traditional elements of jazz without being restricted by them, simultaneous playing of different melodies in separate hands, and incorporation of pop and rock pieces, Mehldau has influenced musicians in and beyond jazz in their approaches to writing, playing, and choice of repertoire. (Full article...)

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Anita O'Day
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July 2007

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After You've Gone, played by the U.S. Coast Guard Band's Dixieland Jazz Band ensemble for the album "South".

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Jazz writer Dan Morgenstern, left, with record producer George Avakian, right

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