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date: 10 August 2020


  • 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 ...

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G. Schuller: Early Jazz (New York, 1968/R)
Musical Quarterly
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Black Perspective in Music