Jazz is not just a music genre, it is a feeling, an emotion that has touched the lives of millions and created melodious and mesmerizing harmonies. Music is the shorthand of emotion, and jazz is truly an emotion that takes your senses and soul to a whole new level. Legends like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and many others have made us experience some of the most magnificent and sensational music ever created. Whether you had a stressful day or just want to relax, jazz can lift up your mood and turn your evening into a special one. These divine and melodic harmonies are a pleasure to the human ears. So today we’re going to take a trip back in time and see how Jazz music originated and evolved to what it is today. With our world advancing every day, jazz music has evolved and transformed itself into a new version and style. Retaining the same heart and core, this music category has truly evolved with time.
The word “Jazz” itself is believed to have originated from the word “Jasm”, a slang term dating back to 1860 meaning “pep or energy”. This form of music originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans back in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the 1920s “Jazz Age”, it has been recognized as a major genre of music. Jazz started with its roots in blues and ragtime. It is hard to categorize it into a single style or genre because it encompasses a wide range of music spanning over a hundred years, from ragtime to the rock-infused fusion. Jazz is like one of those dazzling diamonds of creativity which helps us humans make sense out of life.
With various styles and categories of jazz music, the old day jazz and our modern-day jazz are pretty different. This music style started with the New Orleans Jazz in the 1910s and as it spread around the world, it drew more and more musicians and artists together. Then in the 1930s, artists combined their music with instruments like the guitar and the bass guitar, which in turn created a hard-swinging, bluesy, improvisational style and Gypsy Jazz, which became the prominent music styles in those times. And since then the evolution had started in jazz. Bebop emerged in the 1940s, shifting jazz from danceable popular music toward a more challenging musician’s music which was played at faster tempos and used more chord-based improvisation. And towards the end of the 1940s, Cool Jazz had been developed with calmer, smoother sounds and long, linear melodic lines.
The mid-1950s saw the emergence of a new sub-genre of jazz known as Hard bop. It had incorporated influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and especially with instruments like the saxophone and piano. And musicians had realized that combining instruments like the piano, guitar, and saxophone created amazing and marvelous melodies that were truly soul touching. With time many more sub-genres of jazz started emerging like jazz fusion and smooth jazz. But the heart and core of this genre of music remained the same. Just imagine, if legendary jazz artists like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and others had not created their marvelous harmonies, then how would our world of music be today? Jazz music started a revolution, a change, it was a new type of melody that nobody had heard before, but once people did so they got addicted to it!
The jazz musicians of the early nineties like Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, and many other legends created a pure and blissful form of music, which is very different than today’s generation of jazz. With the addition of modern electric instruments like the bass guitar, electric guitar, modern and much-advanced pianos, the whole scenario of this genre has evolved. Since the 1990s, jazz has been characterized by a pluralism in which no one style dominates, but rather a wide range of styles and genres are popular. Individual performers often play in a variety of styles, sometimes in the same performance, with a wide variety of instruments. Modern-day artists have incorporated many new instruments and genres of music like rock and pop with jazz creating a totally new version and dimension of jazz music. When we compare today’s artists like Nathan East, Nicola Conte, and music groups like ‘The Comet is Coming’, we can feel the difference in their music in contrast to artists like Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, and various other old legendary musicians.
Musical instruments too have evolved a lot when and we can see the difference when we compare the modern-day Jazz instruments with the old days. Various styles of music require various instruments. Artists love to improve and upgrade their tools and instruments, like the guitar and upright bass have improved and advanced with technology giving us electric guitars and basses. Jazz instruments like the trumpet, saxophone, and trombone too have seen better and newer variations with time. And the all-time classic jazz instrument, the piano has evolved into modern-day synthesizers, which creates a plethora of options for artists, that open new opportunity to capture their creative talents. Jazz can be played on almost any instrument, as long as the artists has a creative vision and the desire to create new melodies. Modern-day jazz-rap also is a new and emerging genre that uses various electric instruments and components to create music. The way these instruments have upgraded and evolved and their use has changed with time is truly remarkable, and this trend is bound to continue.
We, humans, have the ability to create amazing wonders, and music is one of them. With creative, inspiring, and incredible artists from all around the world, we have new and melodious tracks made every day. And with our ability to access and share music with digital technology, we are living in an incredible time! Jazz music has influenced and affected millions of lives positively. With spreading love to creating harmony, this music is truly divine. We have thousands of genres of music in today’s world, but the feeling and sensation Jazz creates is really of a whole another level. It is truly a soul-soothing form of music.
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In case some readers are interested in reading a good book about Jazz then I suggest “The history of Jazz” by Ted Gioia which I used also as one of the sources of this article.
Down below you will find some examples of instruments typically used in the modern-day Jazz.
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If you are interested in learning or improving your skills of Jazz electric guitar or Jazz bass guitar, than I suggest to click on this text to check out TrueFire, the leader in online guitar lessons. They have 188 different Jazz courses of different teachers who cover all Jazz styles and techniques.
If you are interested in learning Jazz piano, than I suggest to click on this text to check out Pianoforall, one of the most popular and respected piano lessons. You can chose out of many different music styles, where Jazz is one of them.