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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

Dizzy Gillespie, at the Downbeat Club, NYC, ca 1947

Bebop or bop is a style of jazz characterized by a fast tempo, instrumental virtuosity, and improvisation based on the combination of harmonic structure and melody. It was developed in the early and mid-1940s. It first surfaced in musicians' argot some time during the first two years of American involvement in the Second World War. This style of jazz ultimately became synonymous with modern jazz, as either category reached a certain final maturity in the 1960s.

The term "bebop" is derived from nonsense syllables (vocables) used in scat singing, and is supposed to have been first attested in 1928. Some researchers speculate that it was a term used by Charlie Christian, because it sounded like something he hummed along with his playing. Dizzy Gillespie stated that the audiences coined the name after hearing him scat the then-nameless tunes to his players and the press ultimately picked it up, using it as an official term: "People, when they'd wanna ask for those numbers and didn't know the name, would ask for bebop." (Full article...)

Selected biography

Nina Simone 1965.jpg

Nina Simone /ˈnnə sˈmn/ (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. She worked in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

The sixth child of a preacher's family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black. So as to fund her continuing musical education and become a classical pianist, she began playing in a small club in Philadelphia where she was also required to sing. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendering of "I Loves You, Porgy" was a hit in the United States in 1958. Over the length of her career Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958, when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue, and 1974. (Full article...)

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Louis Jordan, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1946 (William P. Gottlieb 04731).jpg
Louis Jordan (1946)
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May 2011

"Ole Miss Rag", a ragtime composed by W. C. Handy and recorded by Handy's Orchestra of Memphis in 1917 in New York.


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