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Charles Garrett

Article

Postbop  

Keith Waters

Term that loosely refers to a body of music that emerged in the late 1950s and 60s that combined principles of bop, hard bop, modal jazz, and free jazz. Much of this music maintained standard bop and hard bop elements, including a “head—solos—head” format and accompanimental textures such as walking bass. But the music also departed from earlier traditions in the following ways: a slower harmonic rhythm characteristic of modal jazz, techniques for playing “inside” and “outside” the underlying harmonic structure, an interactive (or conversational) approach to rhythm section accompaniment, unusual harmonic progressions, use of harmonic or metric superimposition, unusual underlying formal designs for head statements and chorus structure improvisation, or the abandonment entirely of underlying chorus structure beneath improvisation. The recordings of the Ornette Coleman Quartet (The Shape of Jazz to Come, 1959), Miles Davis Sextet (Kind of Blue, 1959), Bill Evans Trio (Portrait in Jazz...

Article

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. (...

Article

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....