Jazz is one of the most celebrated music genres ever. From an era that spans more than a century to the present day, it has undergone various music influences. Although it not as commercially viable now as it was some decades back, but it still enjoys a cult following in the USA and some other countries.
Development of Jazz:
It can be said that jazz has its roots in the United States, as it is the place where this genre developed majorly. The 1920’s and 1930’s became known as “The Jazz Age” in the USA. In the 1930’s, it gradually gained popularity in Europe.
Jazz has been defined as an art music form that originated in the United States through the interaction of African Americans with European music. The genre owes its glorious history to the dedication and works of these communities of the twentieth century, who resided in the southern side of the USA. They contributed in creating, expanding and popularizing Jazz.
The southern area population utilized this specific music form to express colors of life. Jazz for them was a means to express their dreams, aspirations, ambitions and it was the only way to convey their inner feelings. Gradually, it became popular in other cultures as well. Jazz instruments had also evolved and so as the number of artists adding their share to make it a viable music genre.
The Sound of Jazz: Traditional jazz began with delicate and simple blue notes, later improvising into swing poly-rhythms and notes. A number of classical jazz vocalists have used their smooth voices to give it depth.
Jazz, in its true spirit, is a music form that has a lot of room for creativity. It can be called a spontaneous dialect as that is how it was initially used by the African Americans. In the modern world, it is not only limited to this expression as there are countless Jazz musicians who have added to it. They have interpreted Jazz tunes in various shades altering melodies, compositions and harmonies.
Over the last ten years, Jazz music incorporated range of different dialects through cultural and regional influences. It also brought about the trend for dance sequences, like bebop and swing dance styles, that were readily embraced. Jazz clubs have always been filled with crowds that enjoy listening to the music and dancing to the tunes. Apart from jazz dance, another trend that has gained popularity is the addition of soul jazz. It is a mix of gospel, rhythmic blues and blues and considered one of the most hopeful jazz elements of all times.
Keeping Jazz Alive: Though other music genres such as pop/rock, rap hip hop and countryhave gained commercial success, jazz still maintains its name in the hearts of the listeners. There are a number of Jazz venues and jazz orchestras in the USA that are working for the understanding, preservation and promotion of this genre. Jazz Showcase in Chicago is one of such venues that has been hosting popular jazz artists ever since 1947. New York’s Birdland and Savoy Ballroom, Brooklyn’s Roulette, Washington DC’s Bohemian Caverns and Columbia Station, and St. Louis’ Jazz At The Bistro are the other well-known jazz venues in the USA.
Many jazz festivals are held each year in different parts of the country. It was the year 1996 that first saw Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival and since then, it has become an annual feast for jazz lovers. The show features some of the most accomplished female jazz musicians of the world. On each evening of the festival, three unique groups of extraordinary jazz artists perform with their ensembles. These extremely talented musicians keep Mary Lou Williams’ spirit alive!
Ever since 1954, Rhode Island also hosts the annual Newport Jazz Festivalthat features world class acts. This unique festival was established by George Wein. Over the years, it has gained worldwide popularity. It has undergone various changes and today, it is considered one of the premier jazz events of the region.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, sometimes referred to as Jazz Fest, is an annual culture and music celebration of New Orleans. Jazz musicians from all over the country participate in the festival. The 2012 lineup included the Eagles, Foo Fighters, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ne-Yo, Steel Pulse, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Dave Kozamong others. The event features a vast range of vendors selling crafts and food.
Jazz fests always enjoy huge crowds and at these concerts, you can see the audience more involved in the musicians’ performance than in any other music concert.