Jazz - an American art form and an international phenomenon! Jazz is not the result of choosing a tune, but an ideal that is created first in the mind, inspired by ones passion and willed next in playing music. Jazz music is a language, sometimes intimate, often boisterous, but always layered with experience and life profoundly lived. Jazz is not found in websites or books or even written down in sheet music. It is in the act of creating the form itself, that we truly find Jazz (see Jazz etymology.)
Most attempts to define Jazz music have been from points of view outside that of Jazz. An academic definition of Jazz would be: A genre of American music that originated in New Orleans circa 1900 (see Jazz timeline) characterized by strong, prominent meter, improvisation, distinctive tone colors & performance techniques, and dotted or syncopated rhythmic patterns. But Jazz is so much more than that.
Art in general hosts an invitation for the viewer or listener to invest a personal attentiveness. Unlike other mediums, the nature of music is tipped toward the emotional rather than intellectual. It is this personal connection with music and all art that enables the patron to actually experience what is being communicated, rather than merely understanding the information. While all forms of music share this dynamic, Jazz, with its unique characteristic of collective improvisation, exemplifies it.
Most genres of music involve the listener into the realm of the completed work as it was scored. Jazz draws the onlooker to a deeper league, that of a partnership so to speak, of being along when each spontaneous phrase is created, when each inspired motive is often the interactive result of audience involvement. Jazz music's dynamic is its "newness" which can be attributed to the defining component - improvisation.
While Classical music may strive to conform the musical tones to orchestral sonorities, Jazz music thrives on instrumental diversities; the player's individual "sound" becoming the desired proficiency. This is where the passion is, a kind found no where else.
Jazz is the most significant form of musical expression in American culture and outstanding contribution to the art of music. From obscure origins in New Orleans over a century ago, the music and the word we use for it are now familiar the world over. Like the self-motivating, energetic solos that distinguish the genre, Jazz continues to evolve and seek new levels of artistic expression. In slightly over one hundred years, this evolution has given birth to approximately two dozen distinct Jazz styles. Jazz music draws from life experience and human emotion as the inspiration of the creative force, and through this discourse is chronicled the story of its people.Jazz musicians and those that follow the genre closely, can indeed be thought of as an artistic community complete with its leaders, spokesmen, innovators, aficionados, members and fans.
Andrea C. Wagner
Music Instructor @ Secure Restoration