About Jazz Music

The development of jazz begins in New Orleans during the late 19th century when brass bands would perform in marches, parades and funerals playing anything from military tunes to rags in a polyphonic style similar to African-American vocal music. Since many of these marches were very lengthy, the tunes would have to be repeated many times leading the performers to improvise on the melodies to relieve their boredom. Over time, as the musicians left New Orleans and spread their music to other cities, the marching aspect was phased out and instruments that could be played while seated, such as the piano and trap drum set, began to enter the jazz scene. Starting in the second decade of the century and leading into the 1920s, jazz began to diversify and different genres such as Dixieland and Classic Jazz began to emerge.

Under the guiding hands of Fletcher Henderson and Louis Armstrong, 1920s Classic Jazz developed into Swing Jazz and the golden age of the Big Band was born. After the demise of the Big Band era, jazz began to split into even more genres; first Be-Bop and Jump Blues, and then followed soon by Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Bossa-Nova, Afro-Cuban and Soul Jazz. In developments that came slightly later, Jazz also took in the worlds of concert hall composition and abstract expressionism thus creating the genres Third Stream, Avant-Garde Jazz, Post-Bop and Progressive Big Band.

The arrival of loud amplified instruments to the world of jazz via the musical worlds of rock, funk and RnB again brought many changes to jazz, as well as new genres such as Classic Fusion and Funk Jazz. Since the 1980s, jazz has taken on so many genres and influences that creating easily definable genres is becoming increasingly difficult. Many current jazz artists can be found on JMA in genres such as World Fusion, Nu Jazz, Acid Jazz, Dub Fusion, Post-70s Eclectic Fusion, DJ Hip-Hop Jazz, DrumnBass Jazz, and Post-Fusion Contemporary.

At JMA, we not only try to include an extensive data base of jazz artists, but we also try to include those artists from other genres who have had an influence on the world of jazz, as well as those artists who come from a jazz background but work in genres besides jazz. Some of those artists can be found in genres such as Jazz Related Rock, Jazz Related RnB, Exotica, Soundtracks, Funk, Latin Rock, Jazz Related Improvisation and Jazz Related Blues.

Written by JS (John Sanders, 2011)

JMA Jazz subgenres

Traditional Jazz Modern Jazz Jazz Related

(Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion

As the original fusion movement, that was started in the late 60s, began to fade in the late 70s, a new generation of musicians led by Blood Ulmer, Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Bill Laswell, Steve Coleman and Vernon Reid introduced a new style of jazz and rock fusion that arose from the initial efforts of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time band, Miles Davis' "Get Up With It" and "Dark Magus" albums and the jazzy, funky post-punk 'no wave' scene in New York City. This new fusion was both more aggressive and eclectic than the typical output of the 70s fusion artist. The Post-70s Eclectic Fusion artist not only uses elements of jazz, funk, and rock; but he is also likely to pull from a diverse set of influences including, but not limited to; New Orleans drum lines, klezmer, jump blues, hip-hop, hardcore punk, exotic lounge, drumnbass, and Bulgarian wedding music. The (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion genre at JMA is rooted in the aforementioned artists, but continues to grow and gain popularity worldwide, particularly in Japan and Northern Europe.

Not all of the artists listed in this genre are necessarily harsh and aggressive, but Post 70s Eclectic Fusion tends to have a modern urban sound, often influenced by the cultures of punk and hip-hop, whereas Classic Fusion tends to be rooted in the bohemian atmosphere of hippie, Afrocentric and beatnik culture. In Classic Fusion there tends to be a much stronger Latin and post bop influence in the rhythms, also Classic Fusion artists tend to blend their influences into one style, while Post 70s Eclectic artists may play in distinctly different styles from one song to the next, or even within one song. Its not unusual in this genre for artists to play in a humorously de-constructive style, or in a way that exaggerates the nuances of older styles.

Some of the jazz styles that can be found in this genre include; the M Base movement, free funk, the so-called 'knitting factory scene' and the harsher side of the modern Japanese jazz scene.

Acid Jazz

Acid jazz grew out of the late 80s DJ scene in London in which record spinners would treat dancing patrons to difficult to find 45s released by 60s soul jazz artists. Eventually contemporary lounge/jazz performers such as James Taylor began to capitalize on this interest in 60s 'rare groove' and began to perform live music that had equal appeal for the trendy club crowd. Another aspect of early Acid Jazz involved the mixing of 60s RnB-jazz with the sounds and rhythms of acid house. Once Acid Jazz left England, confusion as to what it actually was created a diversity of influences including dub reggae, hip-hop, drumnbass and 60s psychedelic rock. More recently Acid Jazz is often seen as either 60s rare groove, or a merging of jazz with trip-hop or other club friendly electronica sounds and rhythms.

Typically the artists listed in JMA's acid jazz genre are live bands while acid jazz artists who are more DJ based are listed in our DJ/Electronica jazz genre.

Afro-Cuban Jazz

Afro-Cuban Jazz combines traditional African based rhythms from Cuba with the pyrotechnical solos of jazz or fusion. This genre got its start when Mario Bauza introduced bop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie to Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo. The two made exciting new music together starting in 1947 and ending abruptly in 1948 when Pozo passed away. About this same time Cuban bandleader Machito began to feature jazzy solos in his band arrangements. With the rise of artists such as Tito Puente, Afro-Cuban jazz became one of the most popular styles of jazz in the 1950s.

Afro-Cuban is still one of the more popular styles of jazz today and continues to grow and evolve as it takes on influences from fusion and even the avant-garde. You can also check our genres; Latin Jazz, Bosasa Nove and World Fusion for other styles of Latin Jazz.

Avant-Garde Jazz

Avant Garde jazz is rooted in the so called 'free jazz' of the late 50s and 60s. In 1958 Ornette Coleman shocked the jazz world when he released 'Something Else!'. Although rooted in be-bop, Ornette's music eschewed standard harmonic changes and gave soloists freedom to pursue chromatic melodic excursions based on intuition and improvised interaction with the other musicians. Meanwhile John Coltrane began to leave off the standard bop chord changes in his music and began to pursue lengthy improvisations based on modal drones that gave soloists much more freedom. As the years passed and Coltrane's band changed membership, the background provided by his rhythm section became more and more free and cacophonous as well.

Although Coleman and Coltrane introduced more freedom to jazz, essentially their music remained rooted in swing and bop in that their melodic phrases, no matter how atonal, still 'swung' in the traditional sense of the word. Soon a new generation of jazz virtuosos such as Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Albert Alyer and Pharoh Sanders would take jazz into even further abstractions and noise levels creating music that was all about emotive expressionism, not entertainment.

Although it never totally disappeared, free jazz faded to the background when fusion came along with its amplified guitars and Fender Rhodes pianos. Ironically enough, Miles Davis, who was always critical of the free players, seemed to adopt much of their expressionism when his brand of fusion became increasingly abstract and aggressive culminating in the beautifully harsh and intense 'Live at Fillmore'.

One avant-garde jazz musician who always charted his own course outside of the free movement and ahead of Ornette Coleman's innovations was Sun Ra. Possibly one of the most creative jazz musician ever, Ra condemned the free players saying there was no freedom in his band, only the 'Ra jail'. After the demise of the free movement, Sun Ra's vision of avant-garde jazz, in which composition played a large role along side improvisation, became an inspiration to a new wave of avant-garde jazz musicians.

The avant-garde genre at JMA is dedicated to avant-garde jazz musicians only, and not to the larger world of avant-garde rock and composition. Although the differences may be subtle, avant jazz often differs from other forms of avant-garde music in the use of jazz's characteristic syncopated rhythms and the make-up of the instrumental ensembles which often reflect jazz's past traditions.

Big Band

The Big Band genre at JMA is for large ensembles (generally ten or more musicians) who play in what best can be called a "big band style". The big band style involves breaking the large ensemble into separate sections, usually grouped by instrument, that then engage in call and response type figures with each other. These motifs can be arranged or improvised. The big band arranging style can also use repeating interlocking riffs by the various sections that provide a rhythmic groove for soloists. Early innovators in big band music include Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Modern big band leaders include Quincy Jones and Maynard Ferguson.

The Big Band genre at JMA also includes jazz influenced pop orchetra leaders such as Paul Whiteman, Glen Miller and the Dorsey Brothers. Modern big bands that are influenced by avant-garde music, 3rd stream music or other types of experimentation can be found in the Progressive Big Band genre.

Boogie Woogie Piano

Boogie-Woogie is a piano style that involves repeating left hand bass patterns made up of hard driving eighth notes grouped in one bar phrases. The patterns often start with an octave leap off of the root note and the songs are usually similar to twelve bar blues in form. Boogie-Woogie first appeared in the 1920s via the innovations of Pine Top Perkins. The genre had several revivals in the 30s and 40s in the hands of Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons and others.

The left hand patterns of Boogie-Woogie went on to become the roots of Jump Blues, RnB and early Rock-n-Roll.

Bop

Bop, or be-bop in its full name, was a young jazz man's answer to the more conservative prevailingly swing music of the time. Developed in New York City during the early 40s, bop hit the international scene in 1945 and took everyone by surprise with its energetic and radical approach to swing jazz music. In the hands of innovators such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, the old swing music was given much faster tempos and more spare accompaniments from the rhythm section which opened up space for rapid fire pyrotechnical solos. Still a favorite genre in jazz music schools around the world, many clubs still feature be-bop to this day, but today's bop sounds tamer and calmer than the original item.

Bossa Nova

Although it had been developing throughout the 50s, Bossa Nova became popular in the early 60s as a more mellow alternative to the aggressive urban sounds of hard bop and the avant-garde. Bossa Nova was a Brazilian concoction that combined simplified and slowed down samba rhythms, relaxed cool jazz sensibilities and modern European impressionistic harmonies into a music that was pleasing, but hardly simplistic. The pulsing relaxed rhythm, marked with hypnotic accents, that defines Bossa Nova can be heard in the songs and guitar rhythms of Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Classic (1920s) Jazz

Classic Jazz refers more to a transitional era (1920s), rather than any specific style. During the 1920s jazz slowly shifted from the exuberant New Orleans and Dixieland styles toward a more sophisticated and urbane swing style. Many artists who participated in this transition had careers that overlapped into Dixieland in the early 20s, and into swing in the middle 30s. Not only was the music shifting during this time, but the performing ensembles were growing bigger as more dance orchestras began to use jazz elements creating a big band jazz/pop hybrid that would lead to the classic big bands of the swing era.

The leaders of classic 1920s jazz are orchestra leader Fletcher Henderson and his star soloist, Louis Armstrong. The Henderson orchestra did away with the constant polyphonic soloing of New Orleans jazz and replaced it with cool relaxed riffing which provided a background for Armstrong's expressive melodies and exciting solos. Classic jazz is still played by jazz lovers all over the world, although not always with the right feel.

Classic Fusion

The Classic Fusion genre at JMA includes those jazz artists who added rock, funk and world beat influences to jazz in the late 60s and 70s, and also to those artists who continue to play in this original fusion style today. Some important leaders in this genre include; Larry Coryell, Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, Soft Machine, Miles Davis, Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and Return to Forever.

Rock musicians who use jazz as part of their musical language can be found in the Jazz Related Rock genre. Other more modern style jazz fusion artists can be found in the (Post 70s) Eclectic Fusion genre.

Cool Jazz

Cool jazz arose slowly in the late 40s when many jazz musicians realised there was no point in following in the fast paced be-bop footsteps of Diz and Bird and began to try a more relaxed and quieter approach to playing. Early examples of cool jazz came from Miles Davis' Nonet and Lenny Tristano's group, while later practitioners like Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker showed up on the west coast where cool jazz was often referred to as west coast jazz.

Many cool jazz saxophonists looked to the pre-bop languid sax style of Lester Young for inspiration. Also, 3rd Stream influenced arrangements that featured Baroque style counterpoint became popular during the cool era. One lasting innovation of the cool genre is the idea of concert hall influenced 'chamber jazz' as pioneered by The Modern Jazz Quartet. For some critics, west coast jazz seemed like a souless sell-out compared to the more challenging and urban flavored be-bop of New York City. In 1952 Miles Davis was one of the first 'cool' band leaders to lead the way to a more aggressive next phase in jazz, hard bop.

Cool jazz began to fade before the arrival of fusion and never made a comeback afterwards. Today Cool Jazz is a retro style that defines a certain time and place in jazz history, but is still played by some.

Dixieland

Dixieland started as a continuation of the original New Orleans jazz tradition (see New Orleans Jazz genre), but in a different locale and under different circumstances. During the early 1920s, many New Orleans musicians drifted up to Chicago seeking work where they continued their musical traditions, but no longer as marching bands. The more stationary aspect of these bands led to the addition of the piano to the band, while the stand up bass replaced the tuba.

The music also began to evolve as the musicians began to play with a faster more aggressive feel, and the rhythm section began to accent the 2 and 4 of the beat which led to the driving accented rhythms of RnB and rock-n-roll. Dixieland has had many revivals over the years, sometimes authentic and sometimes corny and amateur. To this day you can still find bands all over the world that play this traditional form of jazz.

DJ/Electronica Jazz

The DJ/Electronica Jazz genre at JMA is for artists who create jazz music with turntables, samplers, sequencers and the occasional live musician.

We are only interested in fully developed sophisticated jazz music. Breakbeat and hip-hop artists who have some jazz influence in their music are too numerous to list here. We also do not list generic trip-hop or other types of music built with obvious repeating looped samples.

Dub Fusion

Dub Fusion is the mixing of jazz improvisation with dub style rhythms and production, as well as Jamaican rhythms such as reggae, ska and rocksteady. Some other artists who play in a dub influenced style may also be found in JMA's Nu Jazz, Acid Jazz and World Fusion genres.

Exotica

Exotica can range from silly kitsch novelty records for 'swingin bachelor pads' to more serious experimental blends of jazz, Latin rhythms, studio technology and modern orchestration. The JMA exotica genre excludes the former but welcomes the latter. Good examples of the more artistic practitioners of the Exotica genre include Martin Denny and Les Baxter. Both Denny and Baxter were accomplished jazz musicians who also drew on a wealth of other musical influences including French impressionistic composers, Afro-Cuban jazz and Polynesian percussion to create highly original and creative musical landscapes.

Other jazz influenced artists that might be found in the Exotica genre include: artists who record creative versions of well known pop songs, artists who juxtapose in-congruent styles in an ironic fashion, artists who have an anachronistic presentation and musical style, and artists who create unique recordings that do not fit easily into any standard genre.

Funk

The worlds of jazz and funk have been intertwined since the early days when James Brown brought us the One. Both genres have been such an influence on each other over the years that it is often hard to tell where one starts and the other ends.

The funk genre at JMA is not an exhaustive list of all the funk bands in the world, but is instead a list of the best, most pure funk bands that are of the most interest to jazz fans. Our definition of pure funk can be found in the music of James Brown, Bootsy Collins and Parliament.

Funk is a genre that is often misunderstoood, poorly imitated and pimped for all the wrong reasons. You will find none of that at JMA. Its hard to describe what is pure funk, but often it involves interweaving snippets of syncopated melody that intertwine in circles within loops and land on the one every other bar. Funk artists such as Bootsy and Parliament, with their constant improvised polyphony, are closer to the concept of early jazz than most jazz artists since the 1930s.

Funk Jazz

Funk jazz is a sub-genre of jazz fusion and is basically the blending of funk rhythms with jazz improvisation. Some classic funk jazz artists include The JBs, The Meters, The Brecker Brothers and Soulive. At JMA, additional funk jazz music can be found in the Fusion, Funk, Soul Jazz and Acid Jazz genres.

Hard Bop

Cool jazz's reign as the prevalent jazz style after bop's demise was short lived as many jazz players, especially on the east coast, wanted to return to a style of jazz that had a little more grit and aggression. Hard bop was a return to some of the ascetics of bop, but also offered some new differences. Hard bop brought back the faster tempos of the bop era, but in hard bop the harmonic changes did not come in such rapid fire succession and musicians found themselves stretching out on longer modal style solos. The new emphasis on albums rather than singles also led to longer songs. Hard bop players also began to bring more influences from the church, blues and RnB into jazz which foreshadowed the coming of soul jazz. Despite an influx of avant-garde jazz in the 60s, hard bop remained the prevalent jazz style until the emergence of fusion in the late 60s. Hard bop has enjoyed many revivals over the years and remains one of the most enduring and popular styles in jazz. Miles Davis is considered an early innovator in the field of hard bop, but Art Blakey and the many musicians who played in his Jazz Messengers are considered to be the epitome of the style.

Jazz Related

Jazz Related Blues

The blues have had a strong influence on jazz since the very beginning. Likewise, when you listen to a guitarist like Robben Ford effortlessly blend the two genres it becomes hard to tell where one genre ends and other starts.

The Jazz Related Blues genre at JMA is for those blues artists who also play jazz, as well as important blues artists who had an impact on the world of jazz.

Jazz Related Improvisation

The art of improvisation in music did not begin with jazz, but the appearance of jazz in the early 20th century has certainly heightened the popularity of improvisation in all styles of contemporary music.

The artists featured in JMA's Jazz Related Improvisation genre play improvised music that has strong similarities to jazz, especially avant-garde jazz. The boundary between the Jazz Related Improvisation genre and the Avant-Garde Jazz and Fusion genres may not always be clear, but generally the JMA Avant-Garde jazz artist comes from a jazz background, while the Jazz Related Improviser may come from a more eclectic background. Also, the artists listed in this genre may include groups that mix jazz artists with other experimental artists.

Jazz Related RnB

The line between jazz and RnB is often blurry. Both styles of music come from the same sources and both influence each other as they constantly cross paths. The Jazz Related RnB genre at JMA pays tribute to RnB bands that are not jazz bands in name only. For example, the early to mid-70s version of Earth Wind and Fire caught the attention of many jazz and fusion fans with their virtuoso horn charts, poly-rhythmic foundation and extended harmonies over modern jazz chord changes. Many of the RnB artists listed in this genre had a strong impact on the development of jazz.

Jazz Related Rock

The appearance of rock had a massive effect on jazz that was both disaterous to the old guard, and 'electrifying' to those seeking change. Over the years, some rock artists have had a stronger effect on the development of jazz than many jazz artists. Here at JMA we pay tribute to those influential rock artists, as well as to those rock artists who draw a lot of respect from the jazz world, with our genre called Jazz Related Rock. Jimi Hendrix is the epitome of a rock musician who had a major impact on jazz.

Jazz Soundtracks

The jazz soundtrack genre at JMA is for artists who compose soundtracks with a strong jazz element. These artists may also work in other genres, but its their jazz soundtrack work that is of most interest to the jazz fan. Some good examples of jazz soundtrack composers are Quincey Jones, Henry Mancini and Isaac Hayes.

Jump Blues

Jump blues is a loud rowdy simplified blues influenced form of jazz that became popular in the 40s after the hard times of the 30s drove many big bands out of business. Patrons of noisy dance halls and clubs needed small groups that could match the volume of the departed big dance bands to fuel their entertainment. To keep the attention of their patrons in the crowded rooms, the singers would shout and the saxophonists would honk and growl giving the performers names like 'shouters and honkers'. Jump Blues hard rhythmic drive and snare beat emphasis on the 2 and 4 has given the genre credit for being the forebear of rock-n-roll and RnB. Some jump blues innovators include Joe Turner and Louis Jordon.

Latin Jazz

The Latin Jazz genre at JMA is a catch all genre for jazz bands that use Latin rhythms, but do not fit our Bossa Nova or Afro Cuban genres. Many of the bands listed here mix rhythms from Brazil, Cuba, Central America and Africa in ways that are not always easy to categorize or define.

Latin Rock/Soul

Latin Rock and Soul combines the instrumentation, emphasized back-beat and volume of rock and RnB with the complicated rhythms of Afro-Cuban jazz and other Latin styles. The early music of Santana is an excellent example of an Afro-Cuban/rock mixture. Carlos Santana's loud distorted guitar would cover the high melodic brass parts, Greg Rollie's B3 would cover the rhythm and mid-range parts, and the two extra percussionists would cover the clave and other rhythm parts giving the seven piece band the sound of a full Afro-Cuban jazz band.

Modern Jazz

Nu Jazz

Nu jazz grew out of the combined influences of Jon Hassel’s Kiranic trumpet playing and ‘fourth world’ rhythms, Miles Davis’ soft tone and use of ambience on “In a Silent Way” and the early 90s intersection of jazz and electronica, particularly trip-hop, dub and down-tempo. Some early Nu Jazz artists include Niles Petter Molvaer and Bugge Wesseltoft. Over time, other influences were introduced to the Nu Jazz sound.

For a time, the jangly ambient guitar sound of post-rock was a big influence on Nu Jazz, but that may be fading now. Meanwhile, bands like Jagga Jazzist and Snarky Puppy have re-discovered the lush orchestrations of sophisticated easy listening and exotica arrangers such as Henry Mancini and Les Baxter. Yet another influence, one that has emerged from the sound of the popular Portico Quartet and others, is the use of repeating minimalist phrases. This use of short repeating melodic phrases not only comes from minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, but also from Zuehl artists and a long history of European art rock.

All of the above mentioned influences may appear on a Nu Jazz album, but not necessarily all. As Nu Jazz continues to develop, the most constant factors tend be a relaxed 'cool' approach, an influence from modern electronica and an appreciation for ironic kitsch and retro sounds. If all of this sounds complicated, a simple way to see much of Nu Jazz is as a merger between modern jazz and ambient music. One more element of the Nu Jazz style that is a little harder to explain is its insider ‘hipster’ stance. Jazz has often been a music that is appealing for those who ‘get it‘, and a mystery to those who don’t. Be-bop and Cool Jazz were good examples of styles that spoke a certain hipster language that was lost on outsiders. Nu Jazz continues that tradition in that people who dig Nu Jazz will recognize it when they hear it, but those outside of the culture will not.

Although there are musical differences between Nu Jazz and Contemporary Jazz, from a pop-culture standpoint, the more obvious difference between the two is Nu Jazz’s self-aware ’hipster’ stance compared to Contemporary Jazz’s more emotionally earnest approach.

Original New Orleans Jazz

The genre New Orleans Jazz refers to jazz in its earliest forms. In the late 19th century New Orleans brass bands would perform in marches, parades and funerals playing anything from military tunes to rags in a polyphonic style similar to African-American vocal music. Since many of these marches were very lengthy, the tunes would have to be repeated many times leading the performers to improvise on the melodies to relieve their boredom.

Typical New Orleans bands in this era had a front line of coronet, clarinet and trombone, while the rhythm section was composed of banjo, tuba and a percussionist. The coronet would play the melody while the clarinet would improvise counter melodies and the trombone supplied pedal points that pointed out harmonic changes while the tuba covered the bass. Improvisation would take place in a similar counter-point style with no one member being a featured soloist. The rhythm sections in early New Orleans bands would place the accent on every beat. Later the Chicago Dixieland musicians would place the accent on 2 and 4, which eventually led to the creation of RnB and rock-n-roll. Unfortunately there are no recordings of early jazz bands because the first recording of a jazz band didn't take place until 1917.

Pop Jazz/Crossover

You can't blame a jazz musician for trying to make a buck now and again, even Charlie Parker made an album or two full of ballads backed by strings. In this genre, pop jazz refers to jazz artists who play 'dinner jazz', 'smooth jazz', 'quiet storm' or whatever else they call it these days. Crossover refers to pop artists, such as Sting, who combine jazzy aspirations with caviar dreams for multi-platinum success. In this genre the two artist types come together as they often do on recording dates when the crossover artist shells out some big bucks to enlist the skills of the pop jazz soloist, such as the always in demand David Sanborn, for that authentic jazzy sound.

Post Bop

Post Bop is a modern jazz style that continues the distinguishing characteristics that separate jazz from the world of pop and rock; swing rhythm and extended harmonies (9th chords 11ths, altered chords, etc). Post Bop grew out of the Hard Bop genre during the early to mid 60s as musicians such as Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock began to introduce more extended harmonies, abstract structures and looser rhythms in their playing and compositions. When Hancock and Shorter joined Miles Davis’ quintet in the mid-60s, that group became the perfect vehicle for extending the boundaries of what could happen in a Post Bop format. The Miles Davis Quintet albums, "Nefertiti" and "Sorcer", continue to be the pinnacle of Post Bop composition and performance. Some styles of free modal jazz, such as Coltrane's "A Love Supreme", are also part of the Post Bop sound, but that sound has been fading since the early 70s.

While still in its infancy, Post Bop was pushed off the radar during the 70s as many of its early proponents pursued the far more lucrative fields of fusion and smooth jazz. As the fusion fad began to fade, musicians began to tire of three chord vamps and the limitations of rock/pop rhythms and yearned to work with sophisticated chord changes and jazz rhythms again. The stage was set in the early 80s for the “young lion” movement and a return to both Post Bop and Hard Bop for a lot of young musicians and their fan base.

Today’s Post Bop covers a wide variety, from radio friendly to borderline avant-garde, and it’s a genre that is still ripe for more exploration. Generally speaking, the difference between Post Bop and Hard Bop is that Hard Bop carries a stronger trace of the blues and a more straight forward driving rhythm, but when you are trying to analyze certain artists or pieces of music, that difference is not always clear. Take recent tracks by Branford Marsalis as an example, some are clearly Hard Bop, some are Post and yet others fall somewhere in between. With some music, arguing whether it is Post Bop or Hard Bop becomes pointless, since depending on perspective, either genre can be seen as a subset of the other. Although we use the genre term Post Bop to tag the music described above, in a more generic sense, post bop can be the name of any swing based jazz music created after the passing of the be-bop era.

Post-Fusion Contemporary

Post-Fusion Contemporary is a broad umbrella genre that contains several recent trends in jazz. One important branch of Contemporary Jazz (which first appeared in the mid 1970s) is rooted in Northern Europe and is often associated with the ECM label. This is a somber style of jazz often played in straight (non-swing) rhythm with elements of regional folk music and early 20th century classical music. This style is sometimes referred to as ‘chamber jazz’. Some early practitioners include Keith Jarret and Jan Garbarek. Although originally rooted in Europe, today this style is played and enjoyed around the world.

Another branch of the Contemporary sound started in the late 70s when artists such as Jeff Lorber and Pat Methany began to play in a style that mixed fusion with elements of smooth jazz and post bop. This was a somewhat light and radio friendly style of jazz, and a very dominant force until acoustic post/hard bop made a comeback.

Although most early forms of Contemporary Jazz were of a light and borderline easy listening nature, today’s Contemporary artists are often playing in a more energetic and rhythmic style influenced by indie rock, hip-hop, RnB, drumnbass, world beat and fusion. Leading the way in the new sound is the modern jazz piano trio. Heavily influenced by the popular trio, e.s.t., most of these groups consist of a trap set, acoustic bass and a very powerful virtuoso piano player.

Today’s Contemporary genre often borders on Classic Fusion, but there are differences. The rock influence in fusion comes from extravagant jam band artists like Jimi Hendrix, while the Contemporary artist draws from moody and dronish indie rock bands like Radiohead and REM. Fusion tends to have a basis in Afro-Latin or funk rhythms, while Contemporary Jazz tends to have straighter rhythms taken from pop and art rock.

Generally speaking, the difference between Contemporary and Post Bop is that Post Bop usually swings, while Contemporary often does not, although the new Contemporary piano trios continue to blur lines by occasionally playing in a post bop swing style too. Harmonically speaking, Post Bop usually uses the extended harmonies of jazz (9th chords, 11ths etc), while Contemporary may mix jazz harmonies with the simpler triadic harmonies of pop or classical.

Progressive Big Band

The Progressive Big Band genre is for post-swing era jazz bands who incorporate more modern elements into their music. Some of these elements might include, modern extended harmonies, electronic instruments and effects, fusion based rhythms and avant-garde arrangements.

The first progressive tendencies in big band arranging begin with Duke Ellington and come to full flower in the hands of arrangers such as Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Gil Evans and Don Ellis.

Ragtime

Technically Ragtime isn't really jazz because it does not involve improvisation, but ragtime ran a parallel career to the early New Orleans jazz and featured similar melodies and rhythms. A simple way to look at ragtime is to consider it as a form of composed jazz, or possibly America's first classical music. Likewise, in a style similar to classical music, ragtime's rhythmic syncopations don't swing quite to the degree that they do in New Orleans jazz performance. Although ragtime first appeared in 1892, Scott Joplin would begin to dominate and define the genre in 1895.

The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz opens with back to back renditions of Maple Leaf Rag by ragtime pianist Scott Joplin and early jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton. In these two performances of this same piece you can clearly hear the difference between ragtime and jazz as Morton's version swings with free abandon, while Joplin's stricter version is more similar to the European late romantic period style of Chopin.

Soul Jazz

Soul jazz is a subset of the hard bop genre and carries the hard bop tendency towards RnB and blues just a bit further. It was the original intention of JMA to list the soul jazz artists in hard bop, but the line was drawn at the bluesy B3 organ players such as Groove Holmes and Jack McDuff. Put simply, soul jazz is instrumental RnB or blues with a swing or funk beat topped with virtuoso jazz solos. You can also find soul jazz artists on JMA in the hard bop, funk jazz, and acid jazz genres.

Stride Piano

Stride is a piano style that involves left hand patterns that hit a bass note on beats 1 and 3, followed by a chord, that goes with the preceding bass note, on beats 2 and 4. Stride is based on the typical Ragtime pianist's attempt to make the piano into a one man band, but Stride has more swing and improvisation than Ragtime.

Stride developed in the 1920s, some major innovators included James P Johnson and Willy 'The Lion' Smith. Stride was a major influence on jazz piano for many years, and still has some influence in modern times.

Swing

The Swing genre represents a golden age for jazz that showed its first signs in the mid-20s, but really peaked from the mid-30s to the mid-40s. Going well into the 20s, most jazz bands still played in New Orleans or Dixieland styles in which the musicians all improvised simultaneously while staying within the boundaries of the original tune's melody and harmony.

When cornetist Louis Armstrong joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra in 1924, the band's arranger, Don Redman, knew he had a rare talent on his hands and began to spotlight Armstrong's melodic skills. No longer would the entire band improvise, instead Armstrong would be given the freedom to take solos to new heights while the rest of the band supplied supporting riffs. This new approach to band arranging spread and reached the public at a time when people were looking for large orchestral bands that could provide an evening's worth of dance music. Thus the golden age for big band jazz was born.

From 1935 to about 1946 jazz dance bands led by the likes of Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington were the number one form of entertainment in the US. The swing era finally came to an end when new taxation laws on nightclubs made dance floors unprofitable and jazz became an entertainment for listening, not dancing.

On JMA, The Classic (1920s) Jazz genre is considered the genre that happens between the end of Dixieland and the beginning of Swing. Many of the originators of swing, such as Louis Armstrong, can be found in the Classic Jazz genre.

Third Stream

Third stream is a term coined by composer Gunther Schuller to desribe music that attempts to mix jazz with classical concert hall music. Jazz caught the ear of many composers in the early 20th century and soon Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky and others began to put elements of American ragtime into their music. French composer Darius Milhaud furthered these experiments that culminated in George Gershwin's 'Blue Monday' and 'Rhapsody in Blue', two pieces which represented some of the first truly successful fusions of jazz and concert hall music.

From the jazz side of things, early attempts at classical influence came from Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Bix Beiderbecke, James P. Johnson and others. Gunther Schuller and John Lewis' 'Third Stream Music', which combined a string quartet with a cool jazz combo, was one of the first entirely successful concert hall pieces by a jazz composer.

In today's music world, Third Stream often refers to compositions that have some element of jazz. At JMA, the Third Stream genre is also where you will find jazz or jazz related music that relies on composition more than improvisation.

Traditional Jazz

Vocal Jazz

Probably the easiest genre to define of all as the title says it best. Obviously here is where you will find vocalists who sing in a distictive jazz style, or styles I should say because although there is a similarity of delivery in the jazz nuances of these listed singers, the performing era and genre style of singers you will find here ranges from Billy Holliday to Doris Day and on to Norah Jones.

World Fusion

The world fusion genre at JMA is not just a collection of world beat artists, but is instead a collection of artists who bring world beat influences to the ever expanding world of jazz fusion. Since fusion artists from the US, Western Europe and Latin America are usually covered in our other fusion genres, the world fusion genre typically carries fusion artists with African, Middle Eastern and East European influences.

Once again though, the world fusion artists at JMA also display the improvisational aspects and virtuoso soloing associated with jazz and fusion.

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