Open main menu

Welcome to the jazz portal

Jazzstubartwork.svg

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

As jazz spread around the world, it drew on national, regional, and local musical cultures, which gave rise to different styles. New Orleans jazz began in the early 1910s, combining earlier brass-band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation. In the 1930s, heavily arranged dance-oriented swing big bands, Kansas City jazz, a hard-swinging, bluesy, improvisational style and Gypsy jazz (a style that emphasized musette waltzes) were the prominent styles. Bebop emerged in the 1940s, shifting jazz from danceable popular music toward a more challenging "musician's music" which was played at faster tempos and used more chord-based improvisation. Cool jazz developed near the end of the 1940s, introducing calmer, smoother sounds and long, linear melodic lines.

The 1950s saw the emergence of free jazz, which explored playing without regular meter, beat and formal structures, and in the mid-1950s, hard bop emerged, which introduced influences from rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing. Modal jazz developed in the late 1950s, using the mode, or musical scale, as the basis of musical structure and improvisation. Jazz-rock fusion appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s, combining jazz improvisation with rock music's rhythms, electric instruments, and highly amplified stage sound. In the early 1980s, a commercial form of jazz fusion called smooth jazz became successful, garnering significant radio airplay. Other styles and genres abound in the 2000s, such as Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz.

Selected article

Example of piano tone clusters. The clusters in the upper staff—C♯ D♯ F♯ G♯—are four successive black keys. The last two bars, played with overlapping hands, are a denser cluster.

A tone cluster is a musical chord comprising at least three adjacent tones in a scale. Prototypical tone clusters are based on the chromatic scale and are separated by semitones. For instance, three adjacent piano keys (such as C, C, and D) struck simultaneously produce a tone cluster. Variants of the tone cluster include chords comprising adjacent tones separated diatonically, pentatonically, or microtonally. On the piano, such clusters often involve the simultaneous striking of neighboring white or black keys.

The early years of the twentieth century saw tone clusters elevated to central roles in pioneering works by ragtime artists Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin. In the 1910s, two classical avant-gardists, composer-pianists Leo Ornstein and Henry Cowell, were recognized as making the first extensive explorations of the tone cluster. During the same period, Charles Ives employed them in several compositions that were not publicly performed until the late 1920s or 1930s. Composers such as Béla Bartók and, later, Lou Harrison and Karlheinz Stockhausen became proponents of the tone cluster, which feature in the work of many twentieth- and twenty-first-century classical composers. Tone clusters play a significant role, as well, in the work of free jazz musicians such as Cecil Taylor and Matthew Shipp.

In most Western music, tone clusters tend to be heard as dissonant. Clusters may be performed with almost any individual instrument on which three or more notes can be played simultaneously, as well as by most groups of instruments or voices. Keyboard instruments are particularly suited to the performance of tone clusters because it is relatively easy to play multiple notes in unison on them. (Full article...)

Selected biography

MortonBricktopRowCropMortonFace.jpg
Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (October 20, 1890 – July 10, 1941), known professionally as Jelly Roll Morton, was an American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer who started his career in New Orleans.

Widely recognized as a pivotal figure in early jazz, Morton is perhaps most notable as jazz's first arranger, proving that a genre rooted in improvisation could retain its essential spirit and characteristics when notated. His composition "Jelly Roll Blues" was the first published jazz composition, in 1915. Morton is also notable for naming and popularizing the "Spanish Tinge" (habanera rhythm and tresillo), and for writing such standards as "King Porter Stomp", "Wolverine Blues", "Black Bottom Stomp", and "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say", the latter a tribute to New Orleans personalities from the turn of the 19th century to 20th century. (Full article...)

Selected image

MortonBricktopRow.jpg
Jelly Roll Morton (third from left), Ada "Bricktop" Smith (next), Los Angeles, California, at the Cadillac Club, c. 1917 or 1918

Related portals

Did you know...

Bebo Valdés 2008.10.23 003.jpg


January - March 2013

Fats Waller: "Viper's Drag" (1934)

credit: public domain

Categories

Quality content

Featured articles

Featured lists

Good articles

Did you know? articles

Good article nominees

Former featured articles

Former good articles

Things you can do

Jazz writer Dan Morgenstern, left, with record producer George Avakian, right

Create an article on a jazz-related subject
Suggest new selected articles and images for the portal here
Add new selected articles here
Add new selected biographies here
Add new selected images here

The Jazz WikiProject

Saxo Boca1.JPG

The Jazz WikiProject works to improve the quality of jazz-related articles on Wikipedia. Please join us!

Jazz by topic

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:

Wikibooks
Books

Commons
Media

Wikinews 
News

Wikiquote 
Quotations

Wikisource 
Texts

Wikiversity
Learning resources

Wiktionary 
Definitions

Wikidata 
Database

Purge server cache