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The Evolution of Jazz

How is jazz defined? Perhaps the best way to answer this question is by taking a look at its history. Jazz finds its origins in African-American communities tracing all the way back to the 1800s and early 1900s. All across the United States, its emergence came under the guise of a variety of musical styles that had achieved popular independence. As a matter of fact, their only commonality was their African American and European American musical roots that were oriented towards performance arts.

With this in mind, jazz has actually been around for more than a century. Defining it is very tricky considering that it covers a very wide range of music that run the gamut from ragtime to present-day jazz. This, coupled with the fact that there is a great deal of brass band tradition, blue notes, improvisation, European harmony, syncopation, American pop music, polyrhythm and swung note application involved in creating jazz music. It is for all of these elements and more that jazz has been hailed as one of America’s “original forms of art”. It truly is in a league of its own.

With the widespread adaptation of jazz around the globe over time, a melting pot of cultures have produced their own respective styles of jazz. For instance, New Orleans jazz was birthed in the early 20th century. This incorporated the heavy use of French quadrilles, biguine, and more. Then, we also have Kansas city jazz which is more bluesy and on the “swinging” side. There is also Gypsy jazz which places emphasis on musette waltzes. The three aforementioned styles of jazz were by far the most prominent of the time. Some of the most popular jazz musicians include the iconic Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Herbie Hancock, Count Basie, and Ella Fitzgerald, amongst others

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