Jazz was one of the most popular forms of music at the beginning of the 20th century and has remained one of the most popular forms of music even to this day. Jazz acted as a bridge out of the classical and romantic eras of music and into the modern forms of music that people are used to hearing today. Prior to delving into the jazz artists of yesterday and today, it can be helpful to look at the jazz era as a whole. Some of the most important historical bits and pieces of jazz are below!
The History of Jazz
Jazz is a unique form of music that many people claim started during the early 1900s. Many people credit the city of New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz. The earliest forms of jazz were played during the late 19th century and grew into its more recognizable forms shortly thereafter. Many people claim that the African American community started the first jazz bands and became more widely recognized when George Gershwin grew famous. Almost everyone is familiar with his landmark composition called Rhapsody and Blue.
Once jazz hit the mainstream community, it exploded into the most popular form of music during the early 1900s. Over time, it underwent several different revolutions as the style was crafted to meet the expectations of the audience. For example, jazz went from a straight rhythm to a swing rhythm. This is the uneven quality that people notice and the spontaneity that people often associate with the jazz music. In addition, it created a call and response style where one person would play a few measures or a few lines before rolling the piece over to another person who would play a few measures or a few lines in response. It also pioneered the field of improvisation. This is where people don’t even know what they’re going to play prior to starting and let their feelings create the music.
Jazz as an Inspiration for Today
Most of the modern music draws its inspiration from jazz to some extent. For example, the forms of music that preceded jazz were all set pieces that people would sit in chairs and play. Jazz created music that the performers would dance and perform to just as the people listening would dance to the music. In addition, the improvisation is not unlike the hip-hop music of today. The rap battles that people have are a form of improvisation because they come up with their lines while they’re rapping just as jazz musicians come up with their pieces while playing. Furthermore, pop music draws from jazz somewhat. The style of the pieces is very much driven by a call and response format where people would play or say a few lines before transferring the next part of the piece over to another member of the band. Jazz was the first form of music that was driven by the cultural feelings and emotional expressions of the community of its birth. After jazz was developed, almost every form of music was driven by the emotions of the people developing the craft. This is what makes jazz a popular form of music even to this day.
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The Top 10 Jazz Musicians in History
- Louis Armstrong:
Louis Armstong is widely regarded as the most influential and prolific jazz musician of all time. His trumpet is known for producing great hits such as “What a Wonderful World.” He was active from 1919 to 1971 and went by a number of nicknames including “Dipper” and “Pops.”
- Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington was born in Washington D.C. and is known throughout the jazz industry as one of its premier leaders during the 20th century. He is known for “Take the A Train,” “Caravan,” and “Perdido.” His music had a Spanish tinge to it. He was active from 1914-1974.
- Charlie Parker
When people think about the genre of jazz, many people think about Charlie Parker. Although Charlie Parker died at a young age, he was a force while he was around. Known as “Bird,” he is known for hits such as “Yardbird Suite” and “Ornithology.” He was active from 1937 to 1955.
- Miles Davis
Miles Davis was a prolific force within the jazz industry and has been called the “Birth of Cool.” His style of music was known as “hard bop” and is known for his album “Round About Midnight.” He was active from 1944 to 1991.
- Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman was a jazz artist who was active from 1926 to 1986. He was best known for integrating jazz bands between white musicians and African-American musicians. He is known for his hits “Don’t Be That Way,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and “Sensation Rag.” His music inspired jazz musicians from a wide variety of backgrounds.
- Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins is one of the premier saxophone players in history and was active from 1921 to 1969. During the course of his career, he churned out hit after hit and received praise from multiple leaders in the industry. He was known for his hit “Body and Soul.”
- Count Basie
When it comes to the jazz piano, many people would claim that Count Basie was the leader of his time. he was active from 1924 to 1984 and drew enormous crowds wherever he performed. He is known for his songs “One O’Clock Jump” and his later hit “April in Paris.” His music inspired pianists for generations to come.
- John Coltrane
When people think about “cool,” they often think about John Coltrane. Born in North Carolina, Coltrane mastered multiple instruments between the years of 1945 and 1967. He is associated with other big names such as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. He created “sheets of sound” and is known for the “Coltrane Changes.”
- Billie Holiday
Known for the hit “Strange Fruit,” Billie Holiday was truly unique. She was nicknamed “Lady Day” and had a vocal style that pioneered a new era of phrasing and tempo. She was active from 1933 until her death in 1959 and led the way for female singers to come.
- Max Roach
Many people would consider Max Roach to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of music. Known for hits such as the “Third Eye,” Roach served as a shining example for drummers everywhere. He was active between the years of 1944 and 2002.
10 New Up and Coming Jazz Artists
- Gregory Porter
NPR recently labeled this singer as the next force in the realm of jazz music. Porter originally came from California but moved to New York City and has been performing regularly in Harlem. He has already released multiple albums.
- The Hot Sardines
This band was founded in the Manhattan section of New York City. This group of musicians was inspired by the likes of Thelonious Monk and Billie Holiday, They have already been featured in Forbes Magazine and have sold out shows all over the city.
- Esperanza Spalding
Many people have already heard of Spalding and had the privilege to experience her music life. She started playing the violin in Oregon at an early age and launched her first album in 2006. She has received positive reviews ever since and has won multiple awards from reputable organizations.
- Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper might not be the traditional jazz pianist that people think of; however, jazz is a form of music that has been built off of something nonconventional from day one. Glasper creates a fusion of hip hop and jazz that causes him to stand out from the pack.
- Cecile McLorin Salvant
Salvant was born to a family in Miami and began singing at the age of 10. She excels at the classical piano and moved to France back in 2007 to expand her abilities of improvisation. She has won multiple jazz competitions already and has been invited to perform at multiple events all over the world.
- Marquis Hill
Hill comes fro the south side of Chicago and took up the drums and the trumpet. He has received multiple awards from competitions such as the Thelonious Monk Competition and has been reviewed by the New York Times. His music is going to be a force for years to come.
- Melody Gardot
Gardot got her start at a young age in her hometown of Philadelphia. After she got in a severe car accident, she was inspired to create her own music. She released her first album in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since.
- Mary Halvorson
Coming from the hotbed of New York City, Halvorson has excelled in the field of jazz guitar. She studied jazz at Wesleyan and began playing in New York City to impressive crowds. She has been reviewed by NPR and has made a name for herself in the Big Apple.
- Aaron Diehl
Diehl is a jazz pianist that seeks to blend the various eras of jazz in a way like never before. He graduated from Julliard and toured with the Wynton Marsalis Septet. He has received impressive critical acclaim over the recent years.
- Tivon Pennicott
Originally coming from Mairetta, GA, Pennicott began playing the saxophone in high school and has had a massive amount of success starting from his early 20s. He has released a couple of albums and has won multiple awards at competitions all over the country. Everyone should know about Pennicott.