What is Jazz?

What is Jazz? Jazz is a music genre that originated in New Orleans, Louisiana with roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz can express many different emotions from pain to pure happiness. Jazz, known around the world as a monumental form of musical expression. Many view Jazz as a reflection of America’s cultural diversity. It is the type of music anyone can enjoy no matter what background you may come from. At the time when Jazz was first being created that is exactly our country needed.

Some would say that jazz breaks all the rules in music others would say that it has no rules. That is what makes it so special. What really sets Jazz apart from other music is all the elements it includes. The melody and harmony are what gives the music such a full sound and the rhythm is the pulse of the song. The most unique part is the improvisation. No planning ahead just playing what your heart feels. It is not technical like other forms it is all about expressing yourself.

Every jazz musician has a very distinct style. They take a lot of pride in having a different sound and style. You can listen to 5 different jazz musicians play the same song and not one will sound the same. Jazz is all about taking something old and making it new and fresh. You get a chance to make each song your own. That is what makes the music so exciting.

Since jazz was originally created it has turned into a whole entity of its own with so many different and special sub-genres. Classical Jazz is what started it all and from there branched out into Swing Jazz and Big Band was born. Your typical Swing Jazz song would have an intense rhythm section and be soft in the wind and brass area. Some notable artists in the swing era are Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. The popularity of Swing Jazz had a decline in the 1940s but was it was resurrected again by artists like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

After the decline in Swing and Big band, jazz then branched out into more genres like Be-Bop and Fusion Jazz. Be-Bop is known for its fast tempo and speedy chord changes. Unlike Swing and Big Band, this style of music is not intended for dance. It was for musicians to challenge themselves and play at a faster-paced tempo. It was a way for ensembles to really show their musicianship without being in the background. Be-bop style music was especially popular in Kansas City and New York. Famous artists like Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald had Be-Bop inspired music.

Fusion Jazz is a really unique way of blending rhythmic jazz with rock music and funk. It has a strong emphasis on dance rhythms. Fusion Jazz was started in the late 1960s. Listeners were losing interest in jazz and turning to rock, so Fusion was the response to that. Electric guitars and keyboards that were popular in rock and roll for many years started to being used by jazz musicians which in turn gave their music a whole new sound. This style of music is known to be complex and unpredictable. The Free Spirits have often been cited in the past as the earliest Fusion Jazz band. Jazz Fusion music is considered difficult to play, but the musicians who have mastered it are the “who’s who” in the music world.

Jazz music may have started out in big cities like New Orleans, New York City, And Washington D.C., but it has made its way all over the world. Now you can hear and learn about Jazz music everywhere even here in Omaha, Nebraska. In Omaha, you can listen to live Jazz at places like Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Jazz A Louisiana Kitchen, and every summer at Jazz on the Green in Turner Park. Different Jazz bands often frequent different music clubs and venues all over the city. At Omaha School of Music and Dance, you can also take Jazz inspired music lessons with many of our very talented instructors. Give us a call to get started and see what the world of Jazz music has to offer.

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