Monday, August 21, 2006

Jazz has roots in the combination of Western and African music

Jazz has roots in the combination of Western and African music traditions, including spirituals, blues and ragtime, stemming ultimately from West Africa, western Sahel, and New England's religious hymns and hillbilly music, as well as in European military band music. After originating in African American communities near the beginning of the 20th century, jazz gained international popularity by the 1920s. Since then, jazz has had a pervasive influence on other musical styles worldwide. Even today, various jazz styles continue to evolve.

The word jazz itself is rooted in American slang, probably of sexual origin, although various alternative derivations have been suggested. According to University of Southern California film professor Todd Boyd, the term was originally slang for sexual intercourse as its earliest musicians found employment in New Orleans brothel parlors.

At the root of jazz is the blues, the folk music of former enslaved Africans in the U.S. South and their descendants, heavily influenced by West African cultural and musical traditions, that evolved as black musicians migrated to the cities. According to jazz musician Wynton Marsalis:

Jazz is something Negroes invented, and it said the most profound things -- not only about us and the way we look at things, but about what modern democratic life is really about. It is the nobility of the race put into sound ... jazz has all the elements, from the spare and penetrating to the complex and enveloping. It is the hardest music to play that I know of, and it is the highest rendition of individual emotion in the history of Western music.[1]

Early jazz influences found their first mainstream expression in the marching band and dance band music of the day, which was the standard form of popular concert music at the turn of century. The instruments of these groups became the basic instruments of jazz: brass, reeds, and drums, and are voiced in the Western 12-tone scale.

Black musicians frequently used the melody, structure, and beat of marches as points of departure; but says "North by South, from Charleston to Harlem," a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities: "...a black musical spirit (involving rhythm and melody) was bursting out of the confines of European musical tradition, even though the performers were using European styled instruments.

Many black musicians also made a living playing in small bands hired to lead funeral processions in the New Orleans African-American tradition. These Africanized bands played a seminal role in the articulation and dissemination of early jazz, traveling throughout black communities in the Deep South and to northern cities.

For all its genius, early jazz, with its humble folk roots, was the product of primarily self-taught musicians. But an impressive postbellum network of black-established and -operated institutions, schools, and civic societies in both the North and the South, plus widening mainstream opportunities for education, produced ever-increasing numbers of young, formally trained African-American musicians, some of them schooled in classical European musical forms. Lorenzo Tio and Scott Joplin were among this new wave of musically literate jazz artists. Joplin, the son of a former slave and a free-born woman of color, was largely self-taught until age 11, when he received lessons in the fundamentals of music theory from a classically trained German immigrant in Texarkana, Texas.

Also contributing to this trend was a tightening of Jim Crow laws in Louisiana in the 1890s, which caused the expulsion from integrated bands of numbers of talented, formally trained African-American musicians. The ability of these musically literate, black jazzmen to transpose and then read what was in great part an improvisational art form became an invaluable element in the preservation and dissemination of musical innovations that took on added importance in the approaching big-band era.

Jazz fusion

Jazz fusion

Bitches Brew is an influential record in the history of jazz fusion.In the 1960s, the hybrid form of jazz-rock fusion was developed. Notable artists of the 1960s and 1970s jazz and fusion scene include: Miles Davis, who recorded the fusion albums In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew in 1968 and 1969, Chick Corea and his Return to Forever band, ex- Miles Davis drummer prodigy Tony Williams's Lifetime with Alan Holdsworth and Larry Young among others, Herbie Hancock and his Headhunters band, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa, Al Di Meola, Jean-Luc Ponty, Sun Ra, Soft Machine, Narada Michael Walden, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, the Pat Metheny Group and Weather Report. Some of artists have continued to develop the genre into the 2000s.

The stylistic diversity of jazz has shown no sign of diminishing, absorbing influences from such disparate sources as world music, avant garde classical music, and a range of rock and pop musics.

Beginning in the 1970s with such artists as Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, the Pat Metheny Group, Jan Garbarek, Ralph Towner, and Eberhard Weber, the ECM record label established a new chamber-music aesthetic, featuring mainly acoustic instruments, and incorporating elements of world music and folk music. This is sometimes referred to as "European" or "Nordic" jazz, despite some of the leading players being American.

However, the jazz community has shrunk dramatically and split, with a mainly older audience retaining an interest in traditional and "straight-ahead" jazz styles, a small core of practitioners and fans interested in highly experimental modern jazz, and a constantly changing group of musicians fusing jazz idioms with contemporary popular music genres.

There have been other developments in the 1980s and 1990s that were less commercially oriented. Many of these artists, notably Wynton Marsalis, called what they were doing jazz and in fact strove to define what the term actually meant. They sought to create within what they felt was the tradition, creating extensions of small and large forms initially pioneered by such artists as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. In the case of Marsalis these efforts met with critical acclaim.

Others musicians in this time period - although clearly within the tradition of the great spontaneous composers such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Fats Navarro and many others – choose to distance themselves from the term jazz and simply define what they were doing as music (this in fact was suggested by the great composer Duke Ellington when the term jazz first began to be popular).

Acid Jazz and Nu Jazz
Styles as acid jazz which contains elements of 1970s disco, acid swing which combines 1940s style big-band sounds with faster, more aggressive rock-influenced drums and electric guitar, and nu jazz which combines elements of jazz and modern forms of electronic dance music.

Exponents of the "acid jazz" style which was initially UK-based included the Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, James Taylor Quartet, Young Disciples, and Corduroy. In the United States, acid jazz groups included the Groove Collective, Soulive, and Solsonics. In a more pop or smooth jazz context, jazz enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s with such bands as Pigbag and Curiosity Killed the Cat achieving chart hits in Britain. Sade Adu became the definitive voice of smooth jazz.

Funk-based Improvisation
Jean-Paul Bourelly and M-Base argue that rhythm is the key for further progress in the music; they believe that the rhythmic innovations of James Brown and other Funk pioneers can provide an effective rhythmic base for spontaneous composition.

These musicians playing over a funk groove and extend the rhythmic ideas in a way analogous to what had been done with harmony in previous decades, an approach M-Base calls Rhythmic Harmony. Wynton Marsalis has disagreed with the use of funk as a musical genre for jazz improvisation, preferring instead to retain the rhythmic base of swing.

With the rise in popularity of various forms of electronic music during the late 1980s and 1990s, some jazz artists have attempted a fusion of jazz with more of the experimental leanings of electronica (particularly IDM and Drum and bass) with various degrees of success. This has been variously dubbed "future jazz", "jazz-house" or "nu jazz".

The more experimental and improvisional end of the spectrum includes Scandinavia-based artists such as pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær (who both began their careers on the ECM record label), and the trio Wibutee, all of whom have gained their chops as instrumentalists in their own right in more traditional jazz circles.

The Cinematic Orchestra from the UK or Julien Lourau from France have also gained praise in this area. Toward the more pop or pure dance music end of the spectrum of nu jazz are such proponents as St Germain and Jazzanova, who incorporate some live jazz playing with more metronomic house beats.

In the 2000s, "jazz" hit the pop charts and blended with contemporary Urban music through the work of artists like Norah Jones, Jill Scott, Jamie Cullum, Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse and Diana Krall and the jazz advocacy of performers who are also music educators (such as Jools Holland, Courtney Pine and Peter Cincotti). A debate has arisen as to whether the music of these performers can be called jazz or not (see below).

Frank Vincent Zappa

Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, guitarist, singer, film director, and satirist.[1] In his 33-year musical career, Zappa proved to be one of the most prolific musician-composers of his era, releasing over sixty albums during his lifetime, almost all of which consisted of original compositions. He was also a renowned electric guitarist and a gifted producer-engineer with an encyclopedic knowledge of studio technology, who self-produced almost every recording he made after his 1966 debut.

His work spanned virtually every contemporary musical genre and was often noted for its blend of high art, rock music, absurdity, scatological humor, and for its caustic satire. Zappa was also noted as a spotter of talent and conductor of extremely stringent auditions, his various groups including such musical luminaries as Adrian Belew, Terry Bozzio, Aynsley Dunbar, Lowell George, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ruth Underwood, George Duke, Vinnie Colaiuta, Mike Keneally and Steve Vai.

Zappa has a large and fiercely dedicated worldwide following, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries. His albums were a strong influence on other groups, and his critically acclaimed work garnered brief mainstream success in the mid 1970s and early 1980s, with the hit singles: "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow", "Dancin' Fool" and "Valley Girl". Zappa, as demonstrated by his disparaging comments about the music business, never cared much for mainstream acclaim.

Zappa was married twice, once to Kathryn "Kay" Sherman (1960–1964; no children), and then in 1967 to Adelaide Gail Sloatman, with whom he remained until his death. They had four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan (named for Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun), and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.[2] Gail Zappa handles the businesses of her late husband under the company name the Zappa Family Trust.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I will write blog soon