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

Song of Innocence made critics turn their heads in its day, regarding it as a visionary curiosity piece; today it's simply a great, timeless work of pop art that continues to inspire over three decades after its initial release.

 — Thom Jurek, AllMusic

Song of Innocence is the debut album of American composer and producer David Axelrod, released in October 1968 by Capitol Records. Axelrod sought to capitalize on the experimental climate of popular music at the time and composed the album as a suite-like tone poem based on Songs of Innocence, a 1789 illustrated collection of poems by William Blake. It was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles with an orchestra and studio musicians, including keyboardist and conductor Don Randi, guitarist Al Casey, bassist Carol Kaye, and drummer Earl Palmer.

Song of Innocence is an instrumental jazz fusion album that incorporates elements of classical, rock, funk, pop, and theatre music. It is arranged for bass, drums, and string instruments, and is written in the rock idiom, with tempos centered around rock-based patterns by Palmer. Axelrod used contrast in his orchestral compositions and interspersed the album's euphoric psychedelic R&B form with dramatic, harrowing arrangements to reflect the supernatural themes found in Blake's poems. The music's reverent, psychedelic overtones evoke their themes of innocence and spirituality.

Although it was innovative for its application of rock and jazz techniques, Song of Innocence was not commercially successful and confounded contemporary music critics, who viewed it as an ambitious curiosity piece. In the 1990s, critics reassessed the album and regarded it as a classic, while leading disc jockeys in hip hop and electronica rediscovered and sampled the album's music. "Holy Thursday", the album's best-known song, was frequently sampled by hip hop producers. The renewed interest in Axelrod's work prompted Stateside Records to reissue Song of Innocence in 2000. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Duke Ellington - publicity.JPG
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. He led his orchestra from 1923 until his death, his career spanning over 50 years.

Born in Washington, D.C., Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward, and gained a national profile through his orchestra's appearances at the Cotton Club. In the 1930s, his orchestra toured in Europe. Though widely considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, Ellington himself embraced the phrase "beyond category" as a "liberating principle", and referred his music to the more general category of "American Music", rather than to a musical genre such as "jazz".

Some of the musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are still, in their own right, considered to be among the best players in jazz, but it was Ellington who melded them into the best-known orchestral unit in the history of jazz. Some members of the orchestra remained members for several decades. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington often composed specifically for the style and skills of his individual musicians, such as "Jeep's Blues" for Hodges, and "Concerto for Cootie" for trumpeter Cootie Williams, which later became "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me" with Bob Russell's lyrics. (Full article...)

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Hugues Panassié and Tiny Grimes, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948 (William P. Gottlieb 06711).jpg
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February 2011


Original Dixieland Jass Band - Tiger Rag (1918)

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