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When Jazz Ruled the World


ElmerJFudd
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Nowadays, in the second decade of the 21st Century, jazz may seem to many a marginalised music. Of course, it goes without saying that there are still musicians who have risen out of the jazz ghetto, crossed over, and sold humungous amounts of records to the mainstream public think Gregory Porter and Diana Krall, in recent times but on the whole, jazz music no longer makes the bestseller lists.

 

But there was a time when jazz was the dominant form of popular music and it could be heard emanating from radio stations, jukeboxes, nightclubs and concert halls throughout the world...

 

Throw back performance by Gregory Porter,

[video:youtube]

 

When Jazz Ruled The World: The Rise And Reign Of Americas One True Art

https://www.udiscovermusic.com/in-depth-features/when-jazz-ruled-the-world/

By Charles Waring

April 2, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am not sure which " jazz" era we are talking about....

 

You might mean the 30's and 40's before Elvis ..... who, for whatever reason changed the music biz forever performing ( many) three chord covers.

 

For me , the jazz boom in my lifetime more or less hit in the early 70's after Miles Davis went electric. On the heels of that we had Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Joe Zawinul, John Mc Laughlin, Airto ... all ex Miles sidemen.

 

I wouldn't say jazz ruled the world in sales, but it made a huge impression in the musical world. There was a lot going on in mainstream jazz too - Mc Coy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Art Pepper, Freddie Hubbard and the CTI or ECM bunch - George Benson, Jaco Pastorious, Pat Metheny etc.etc.etc. who all thrived throughout the 70's and 80's.

 

I leaned toward jazz of this period rather than prog rock, glam rock, punk rock, country rock etc.etc. It was an interesting period for improvisational based music.Beyond some of the phenomenal skills of many of the above mentioned players, the music was also entertaining on many levels.

 

If I were to look at what might be lacking in jazz these days, it could be the entertainment factor. Many of the people I mentioned were as interesting to watch as personalities as they were to listen to.

 

Ringo Starr once said that he didn't seem to think that people came to listen to the Beatles as much as to see them.

 

So I suppose if the element of "fun " is missing from jazz... it's not going to be as popular as some other musical categories - such as watching rock music celebrities performing their hits into their 70's ( and god forbid) possibly even into their 80's.

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I think the only time that jazz dominated popular music was during the big band swing era. I like Gregory Porter, but his rendition of Smile has little to do with jazz. He is performing in a pre rock n roll orchestral ballad pop style. That would have suited any number of popular ballad singers like Perry Como, Andy Williams, or Jack Jones. That paragraph quoted above is marketing hype, not really based on much of reality.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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The problem is in how you define jazz. Does Snarky Puppy play jazz? Jazz is improvised music. I play jazz, but the tunes I'm improvising over are mostly rock and blues. Is that not jazz? If jazz is only American songbook standards or Miles/Herbie/Chick from 40-50 years ago, then we have a problem.

 

I agree that the performance of "Smile" by Gregory Porter is not jazz.

These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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I have a lot to say about this topic, since one of the courses I teach is a history of jazz. But instead I'll post this: Gregory Porter is near and dear to many KC brethren's hearts here in the far-southern edges of CA, since a mutual friend/colleague has now won two Grammys producing his records, after Porter injuried off of our local Div 1A college football team. What he does is not always traditional jazz, but it's all "jazz-informed." I love this one, a bit Isaac Hayes-ish, and so soulful.

 

[video:youtube]

 

And this for being so unlike the rest of what's out there, somewhere in the nexus of soul, country, jazz, and singer-songwriter:

 

[video:youtube]

"
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Ruled the world? Louis Armstrong coming to your town was a very big event in US history.

So 20-40's which included the big bands is my sense of jazz ruling . But part of me thinks, jazz never ruled the world. The closest jazz came is when the dance, and the melody ( including Blues like melodies ) were prominent- 20's-40's.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Was a better world, people were more interested in their improvised line than a line they were writing for a lyric in a song... But I am a child of the 60's and know it but I also know I love jazz having caught the last glimpses of that world being born in the early 50's . . . I can remember '58/'59 pretty clearly at 6 and hearing what was to be had! I wanted to be Loui and blow a horn, not a Beatle, which of course came later !

 

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I have a lot to say about this topic, since one of the courses I teach is a history of jazz. But instead I'll post this: Gregory Porter is near and dear to many KC brethren's hearts here in the far-southern edges of CA, since a mutual friend/colleague has now won two Grammys producing his records, after Porter injuried off of our local Div 1A college football team. What he does is not always traditional jazz, but it's all "jazz-informed."
So it's clear, I didn't knock Porter's singing - he did a beautiful job on "Smile". Hope I didn't offend you, or anyone. I was talking about the video and how elements unrelated to jazz can obscure an understanding of jazz - which is what it was supposed to be about.

 

I could talk forever about the topic too, but there's "good music" in every genre. This version of Smile is good music, even though 'jazzy' is not jazz.

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Semantics? I don't think of a pop song that later became a jazz standard as itself being "jazz." "Jazz" is the improvisational take on that pop song, and used in that sense it never has and never will rule the world. Others might disagree with that use of the term.

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I've heard it said that improvisation is the defining element of jazz but I disagree - it's a hugely important part of it, but not unique to jazz, other forms of music including as an obvious example, rock'n'roll, comprise improv as well. What I think really defines jazz is an (ever-expanding, infinitely variable but still with its own perceptible essence) harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary that extends through the many styles, flavors, eras and genres of jazz. I'd say improvisation also has to be there for it to be truly jazz, but that's not enough on its own.

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That was little tautological, though. All jazz is improvisation =! All improvisation is jazz =! Jazz is all improvisation.

 

What is indisputable is that jazz was the country's popular music for a couple of decades, and fell off, as all genres do, when the next generation of listeners grew old enough to prefer their own music to their parents'.

 

A big difference with jazz is that the fall-off corresponded exactly to the genre's embrace by "the academy." So rather than fading off into novelty-obscurity, it's been held aloft by universities and conservatories, as well as a couple of enduring "narratives" around Americanness and blackness, that keep it occupying a favored corner of our collective musical and national imagination.

 

SK, no offense of any kind taken, that was meant to be a parallel post and not a response to any previous comments. It was just prompted by seeing the vid of him in the OP.

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Jazz also has different concepts and styles of improvisation, i.e. musical languages, bebop probably being the most pervasive. Improvisation is about choices/ decisions, not just playing lines or solos, but in harmonic content, rhythms, chords, adding/omitting notes... is all improvising.

 

Academia has kept jazz development going... but even when

academia wasn't there, the human drive to express one's self is always present in music and other creative arts. Its popularity or appreciation dropped off due to lack of exposure and lack of public understanding... but everyone has the means to grasp more of what it's about.

 

Here's a great player/friend/educator explaining this to a general audience:

 

[video:youtube]

 

 

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A big difference with jazz is that the fall-off corresponded exactly to the genre's embrace by "the academy." So rather than fading off into novelty-obscurity, it's been held aloft by universities and conservatories, as well as a couple of enduring "narratives" around Americanness and blackness, that keep it occupying a favored corner of our collective musical and national imagination.

 

This is a critical point I think. With the ongoing push for cultural diversity in the humanities, the long, rich history of jazz is low-hanging fruit. Hell, even in the 1970s, including jazz in your junior/senior recital program was perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. All this bodes well for the music and for future generations of musicians. It will not be forgotten.

 

Busch.

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That OLD art of improvisation going all the way back to Bach, Mozart and before up through American Jazz really employs a different physics than just reading or memorizing or mechanically performing music. . . Beside the knowledge you need to play it successfully, there is another wonderful level to it.. psychologically/mentally/spiritually it really requires a person to be in a very 'open' place in regards to oneself without external accreditation..and focus on what you want to say musically. It is not so easy to play within oneself and not grab for external references....it's actually easier to play yourself you come to realize and more honest in the long run and more gratifying to boot. I personally found that very liberating...and that is a valuable thing spiritually for anyone....no one can really tell you you are playing yourself 'wrong'... has a lot of ramifications beyond music itself for a person . . . the only requirement is to 'take care of business' (know the changes) and put the note 'in there' in regard to the time...even if the note is outside harmonically!

 

Coming basically from European music background as a kid and later Rock and Roll I found jazz ideas in terms of expression/self very freeing ... It took a lot of work but I am much better player for it and more comfortable with music in general having gone through that experience....at it about 25 years now. I do play other music too though but I try to improvise every single day . . .

 

I really can't say enough good things about Jazz and I agree, Classical musicians could really learn from that experience as SK's friend states. Any musician regardless of genre could!

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A side issue of "jazz ruling the world" , is "what is Jazz"? Jazz defined in words - I cannot do it. But I can use analogy.

I still recall criticism leveled at Grover Washington... is it jazz, or isn't it? I know how I feel.. it is a form of jazz. But it could be construed by some as kind of sort of jazz.

So from this, I say, certain artists are squarely in the center of that nebulous term jazz ( that Duke Ellington, dismissed )

So rather than use, someone on the periphery of jazz like Grover.. it is clearer to use Icons of the styles.

 

Louis Armstrong. is jazz. Django jazz, Benny Goodman, Tatum, Phineas, Dave Tough, Lester Young, Fats Navarro, Sonny Clark, Bird, Rollins, Bill Evans, Getz, Miles, Art Blakey, Wes Montgomery, Elvin and Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Jimmy Merritt John Coltrane.

To me these are in the center of jazz. Of course a Dixieland devotee will not feel Coltrane is jazz.

Still, utilizing the big names in jazz, is the best way of defining what jazz is.

 

Actually a picture is worth a thousand words

 

[video:youtube]

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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I've heard it said that improvisation is the defining element of jazz but I disagree - it's a hugely important part of it, but not unique to jazz, other forms of music including as an obvious example, rock'n'roll, comprise improv as well. What I think really defines jazz is an (ever-expanding, infinitely variable but still with its own perceptible essence) harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary that extends through the many styles, flavors, eras and genres of jazz. I'd say improvisation also has to be there for it to be truly jazz, but that's not enough on its own.

 

I think jazz being defined solely as improvisatory music came to the fore with the rise of bebop. In the Big Band/Swing era, the music was fairly well written out and rehearsed.

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That's why I'm calling my album "The Opposite of Jazz", as the parts are written out, and I fine-tuned the improvisations such that they too are now notated (for the most part). Is it jazz?

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If we need to define "the sound of Jazz" as something other than "just pure improvisation", I would say that, in general: Jazz rhythm is kept by constantly pulsating taps on the ride cymbal, while the snare, kick-drum, toms, crash cymbals, and everything else are used ONLY for ACCENTS.

 

In pop/rock and other styles, the rhythm is kept by the snare/kick/toms, while the cymbals and other hits on the snare/toms are used for accents.

 

There are MANY exceptions to this rule, of course... but it is a starting point.

 

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Haha, that's if the music has drums. I guess my album is jazz after all then, but I love irony so I'm keeping the title. :-)

 

It feels weird that my local jazz combo gets a bigger draw than some big name artists I've seen recently, in obscure sub-genres of classical music.

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If we need to define "the sound of Jazz" as something other than "just pure improvisation", I would say that, in general: Jazz rhythm is kept by constantly pulsating taps on the ride cymbal, while the snare, kick-drum, toms, crash cymbals, and everything else are used ONLY for ACCENTS.

 

In pop/rock and other styles, the rhythm is kept by the snare/kick/toms, while the cymbals and other hits on the snare/toms are used for accents.

 

There are MANY exceptions to this rule, of course... but it is a starting point.

 

I don't think that holds up. It applies to bebop (unless the drummer is playing brushes on the snare, then it is out of the window), but even New Orleans/Dixieland and much of the swing era would not be Jazz by this definition.

 

Forget about a wealth of fusion and contemporary stuff, or latin Jazz.

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For me jazz is African American swing rhythm, improvisation, standards with extended harmonies and some blues elements all mixed together. And also switch the swing rhythm to Latin rhythm for the other side of the jazz continent. I know that post modernists have a different view.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Good discussion here.

 

First, I'm just glad Jazz showed up on the timeline of musical evolution.

 

Still, to this day, there are still many fine practitioners of Jazz who are playing it at the highest level regardless of its popularity or lack thereof.

 

Although many musicians may not choose to play Jazz, the music continues to influence and inspire past, present and future generations of them.

 

I'm thankful to have been born in a time that allows musicians to combine a variety of musical styles in their proverbial toolbox. Jazz is a great element to have included. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Jazz also has different concepts and styles of improvisation, i.e. musical languages, bebop probably being the most pervasive. Improvisation is about choices/ decisions, not just playing lines or solos, but in harmonic content, rhythms, chords, adding/omitting notes... is all improvising.

 

Academia has kept jazz development going... but even when

academia wasn't there, the human drive to express one's self is always present in music and other creative arts. Its popularity or appreciation dropped off due to lack of exposure and lack of public understanding... but everyone has the means to grasp more of what it's about.

 

Here's a great player/friend/educator explaining this to a general audience:

 

[video:youtube]

 

 

Steve... I may be confused about a jazz trumpet player from NYC back in the 70's.

His name was ( is ) John Dearth. But I thought John had passed away.

The coincidence of the two names, causes me to ask. Is this John D'earth the same fine jazz trumpeter who I actually did a few gigs with, back in the day? Or, did John pass away?

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Donald Fagen had said that his favorite jazz was before the mid-60s. After that jazz became too modal for him, and musicians focused too much on technique and scales and not enough on melody. I have to agree that I prefer the older jazz.

 

Jazz got too sophisticated for the layman and the average consumer just can't comprehend that clever stuff. That's why jazz declined in the market. ELP and Yes ran into that too.

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