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The Benny Goodman Quartet: Lionel Hampton, vibraphone; Teddy Wilson, piano; Benny Goodman, clarinet; and Gene Krupa, drums; in Busby Berkeley’s 1937 film, Hollywood Hotel.

(MaxJazz/Lebrecht Music & Arts)

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Jazz Ex.2 characteristic rhythmic motive of the charleston

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Corp author Jazzsign

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Charlie Parker, 1949.

(JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts)

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Jazz Ex.1c cinquillo

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Corp author JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts

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Duke Ellington Orchestra: Kay Davis, singer; Al Sears, saxophone; Junior Raglin, bass, Ray Nance trumpet, and trombonist Tricky Sam Nanton; 1945.

(JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts)

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Corp author Rue des Archives

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Ella Fitzgerald.

(RA/Lebrecht Music & Arts)

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Jazz Ex.1b habanera

Article

Jazz  

Mark Tucker and Travis A. Jackson

The term conveys different though related meanings: 1) a musical tradition rooted in performing conventions that were introduced and developed early in the 20th century by African Americans; 2) a set of attitudes and assumptions brought to music-making, chief among them the notion of performance as a fluid creative process involving improvisation; and 3) a style characterized by syncopation, melodic and harmonic elements derived from the blues, cyclical formal structures and a supple rhythmic approach to phrasing known as swing.

Writers have often portrayed the history of jazz as a narrative of progress. Their accounts show jazz evolving from a boisterous type of dance music into forms of increasing complexity, gradually rising in prestige to become an artistic tradition revered around the world. Certainly attitudes towards the music have changed dramatically. In 1924 an editorial writer for The New York Times called jazz ‘a return to the humming, hand-clapping, or tomtom beating of savages’; in ...

Article

Jazz  

Mark Tucker and Travis A. Jackson

The term conveys different although related meanings: 1) a musical tradition rooted in performing conventions that were introduced and developed early in the 20th century by African Americans; 2) a set of attitudes and assumptions brought to music-making, chief among them the notion of performance as a fluid creative process involving (group) improvisation; and 3) a style characterized by melodic, harmonic, and timbral practices derived from the blues and African American religious musics, cyclical formal structures, and a supple approach to rhythm and phrasing known as swing.

Historians and critics using studies of concert music and literature as models have often portrayed the development of jazz as a narrative of progress. Their accounts suggest that jazz started as unsophisticated dance music but grew into increasingly complex forms, gradually gaining prestige and becoming recognized around the world as an art. Over that same period, the attitudes of cultural and institutional gatekeepers toward the music changed dramatically. In ...

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Joe “King” Oliver (standing with trumpet) leads the Creole Jazz Band from New Orleans, including Louis Armstrong (kneeling with trumpet), 1923.

(Lebrecht Music & Arts)

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Charles Garrett

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Corp author JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts

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The Original Dixieland Jazz Band: Henry Ragas, Larry Shields, Eddie Edwards, Nick La Rocca, and Tony Spargo, 1917.

(JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts)

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Sarah Vaughan, 1946.

(Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, William P. Gottlieb Collection, LC-USZ62-89643)

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Marc Rice

[Kansas City jazz]

A style of jazz developed in the 1920s and 30s unique to Kansas City and the Southwest. It grew from the ragtime traditions of Missouri, the blues of the Southwest, and the fierce musical and economic competition that was a fact of life for the territory bands working in the region. Features of the mature Southwest style include a heavy emphasis on improvisation, a driving 4/4 beat, and the influence of blues forms and harmonies.

Kansas City was the focal point of jazz in the Midwest and Southwest, due to its vibrant African American communities, and a political climate that enabled the presence of alcohol and vice in venues where the music was performed. The city was home to dozens of musicians and several bands, the most important of which were the Bennie Moten and George E. Lee Orchestras. There were dance halls and many jazz clubs where local and visiting musicians were allowed to experiment, and to challenge each other through “cutting contests” that demonstrated their improvisation skills. (...

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Christopher Wilkinson

[sweet jazz]

The term “sweet dance music” is used to define both a repertory and a performance practice. It appeared in print for the first time in the late 1920s and continued to be used regularly until the 1950s, often as a pejorative label for a style that was in many respects the antithesis of jazz. In addition to American popular songs, the repertory included genres of European origin: waltzes, polkas, and “light classics,” among others. The style was frequently characterized by music that was fully arranged with little if any improvisation played by bands having an instrumentation similar to that of jazz bands of the 1930s: reeds, brass, and a rhythm section supplemented in some instances by strings. The musicians use a straight tone, not individualized sonorities characteristic of hot jazz. Arrangements typically use symmetrical rhythms with little or no swing in slow to moderate tempos. Singers also employ a straight tone and equally symmetrical rhythms rather than jazz-based vocalisms....

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Jazz Ex.1a tresillo

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Wynton Marsalis, 2004.

(Lloyd Wolf/Lebrecht Music & Arts)