WHAT IS JAZZ?

DEFINE JAZZ...

It’s a simple question but it doesn’t have a simple answer!

At the start of the 20th century, New Orleans was a cultural melting pot in which (amongst other forms) the music of marching bands as well as ragtime and the blues could all be heard. Musicians combined these elements in order to create their own music; the process of improvisation which is a key element of jazz. As the music progressed – enriched during the 1920s by the work of founding fathers including Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong – it developed its own character and vocabulary and became a natural stage for the jazz soloist as well as the foundation for formal composition as epitomised from the 1920s by Edward ‘Duke’ Ellington. So jazz can be both improvised and written down.

For its next thirty years, the music accelerated through a number of progressive stylistic genres including swing, modern jazz (or ‘bebop’) and free-form; all of which contributed to the music’s diversity. With the advent of 1960s rock music, jazz-fusion was born in which the music took on the dual characteristics of both forms. Since then, jazz performers have continued to take on the musical colours of the times (including rap, hip-hop reggae and more) as well as keeping the music’s classic traditions alive.

In short: we feel jazz is where you find it! The only qualification is that the performer – whomever they may be – want to please their jazz listener. To gain further points of view and discover more about jazz we invite you to scroll down! We hope that the information on this page points you in the right direction to discover what jazz means to you.

Gottleib Jazz Image

Esperanza Spalding

"Jazz music just resonates with the frequency of me"