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Big Band, Sinatra Style
Bouncy, Gay, Energetic
Playful, Exuberant, Optimistic
Relaxed ragtime played by the piano, with a jazzy middle part.
Mid tempo big band tune
Trip the light fantastic, back to the Fifties
Guitar licks, spherical Production Music pads and concise drum loops.
Upbeat Big Band tune
Happy, uptempo "Hot Club of France" type jazz, performed on acoustic guitars. ("Boulangerie" is French and means Bakery).
Cool uptempo Jazz with wandering Double bass and Sharp stabbing piano
Evening mood at the beach, a wistful guitar sings the sunset
Upbeat Big Band tune
Authentic flamenco (rumba) with spanish acoustic guitar, castanets, claps (palmas), shaker, upright bass and drums. The music begins calm and evolves to an authentic rumba party song, perfect for documentary (Spain, Mallorca), corporate movies (tour operator) and advertising.
Short trailer in New Orleans street style
Up-tempo Acid Jazz with quick wandering double bass, jazz piano and big brass stabs. Cool and confident.
Sinti Jazz with a good-mood guarantee
Paulchen Panter greets Dr. No
A romantic jazz ensemble inviting you to relax and to feel good.
Jazz is a musical genre born at the beginning of the 20th century as an evolution of musical forms already used by African-American slaves. Initially it had the form of working songs in plantations and during the construction of railways and roads in the US and served to rhythm and coordinate movements (the rhythm was binary). The first musicians played music by ear and the pioneering orchestras in New Orleans were called Ragtime Bands. Jazz will also arrive in Chicago with Louis Armstrong and then also in Europe where it will have a great success. Over the years it will change and will also become a commercial music with the swing to resume the traditions of African-American culture of the first jazz bands with bebop.
In jazz there are two main forms: the blues, in 12 bars (3 musical phrases), and the song, in 32 bars. Initially the essence of improvisation was in the melodic line, this is due to the fact that the prototypical jazz medium (original) is the brass group, in which, since each player can produce only one note at a time, the solos are necessarily melodic. Accompanying harmonic instruments (piano, guitar, double bass) were introduced later. From the very beginning jazz has incorporated in its language the genres of popular music, ragtime, blues, light music and finally cultured music, especially American music. In more recent times jazz has also mixed with all modern musical genres, even non-US, such as samba, Caribbean music and rock.
Jazz has evolved over the twentieth century into a wide variety of styles and sub-genres: from early New Orleans dixieland, swing, big bands in the 1930s and 1940s, bebop in the second half of the 1940s, cool jazz and hard bop in the 1950s, free jazz in the 1960s and fusion in the 1970s, to contamination with funk and hip hop in the following decades. The use of these labels has not been very appreciated by many musicians (jazz musicians) who prefer to define their music simply as jazz. After the 70's, jazz became part of the so-called cultured music, thus becoming part of the courses held in music schools and conservatories.
Jazz developed at the beginning of the 20th century in New Orleans. In the city there were various cultures and most of the population belonged to the lower social classes. In New Orleans, almost certainly around 1910, the word jazz was pronounced for the first time, originating from a word belonging to the traditional French culture with a meaning linked to animation, to the joy of living. Other sources would like the word to have originated from a term of African origin with references to sexuality. The city had first a French and then a Spanish domination; it had become part of the US with the "Louisiana Purchase" of 1803. Jazz was immediately established as a synthesis between many musical cultures, European (music for military band) and African (percussion, rhythm).
The main elements of jazz are two: rhythm and improvisation.
From a technical point of view, modern jazz is characterized by the extensive use of improvisation, blue notes, polyrhythm and harmonic progression used in a different way than classical music. The rhythm, elastic and sometimes unequally marked, for example in swing, has always been very important in almost all forms of jazz, and sometimes has generated symphonic jazz.
Since the beginning, the interpretation has enhanced the expressiveness and instrumental virtuosity. Part of the early jazz was based on combinations of African musical elements, that is, articulated on pentatonic scales, with characteristic blue notes, mixed with harmonies derived from European classical music with a remarkable use of syncopated rhythms and polyrhythms.
Improvisation, starting from the simple variation on the initial theme, has assumed increasing importance. In free jazz, which had its golden age in the sixties and seventies, the theme could also disappear in experiments that were called collective total improvisation.
The typical modern jazz formation is made up of a limited-sized musical group. The most frequent combination is the quartet, almost invariably consisting of a rhythmic section composed of drums, bass or double bass, piano and a solo instrument, usually a saxophone or a trumpet.
A wide variety of changes are possible and frequent in the context of small training. As far as the numerical consistency is concerned, there are examples of solo performances up to the orchestra or a formation that is already beginning to take on orchestral characteristics such as an esemble. There are also many different combinations with regard to the quality of the instruments involved: there are examples of jazz played solo with most orchestral instruments (even oboe and harp) or folk.
Orchestral jazz ensembles, which went into deep crisis at the end of the thirties, are now quite rare, mainly because of the economic and organizational difficulties associated with the management of a complex that includes many dozens of musicians.
For a long time the privileged territory for African-American musicians was the USA. Nowadays, Jazz is played, composed and listened to all over the world as a new cultured music. If this is true especially in the western world, it is also true that the explorations of the African musical roots that many jazz musicians made from the sixties and the contacts between cultures and musical styles characteristic of the last part of the twentieth century, have helped to create many types of jazz, ranging from the traditional performance for small ensemble, derived from boppistic and post-boppistic experiences, to the creation of unusual sounds that arise from the hybridization of different instrumental and musical traditions until you get to dissolve in the genre called world music (and in this case we no longer speak of jazz).
A similar phenomenon has recently conferred the category of cultured genre to part of Brazilian and Argentine music (Antônio Carlos Jobim, Astor Piazzolla and others), which among other things is related to jazz, also for the work done by Stan Getz and others as a result of which many jazz standards use Brazilian and Argentine models.
The history of jazz shows a lack of documentation and references regarding its origins. The first sources are oral and concern the beginning of the 20th century in New Orleans. The music that was originally called, with a term of uncertain jazz origin, was almost certainly born in New Orleans at the beginning of the twentieth century. The musician to whom the title of "father of jazz" is attributed, Buddy Bolden, was active in New Orleans in 1904. In 1906 the pianist Jelly Roll Morton composed the song King Porter Stomp, which was one of the first jazz pieces to enjoy wide fame, and in the following years in New Orleans were active many jazz formations: among the most important, the one led by the cornet player Joe "King" Oliver. The word "jazz" was printed by a newspaper for the first time in 1913.
The Original Dixieland Jass Band (O.D.J.B.), composed only of whites and directed by the Italian-born cornet player Nick La Rocca, was very well known. After its debut in Chicago on March 3, 1916, on February 26, 1917, O.D.J.B. recorded for the first time a jazz track Livery Stable Blues. For this reason, O.D.J.B. was given the title of "inventors of jazz".
Between 1910 and 1920 many musicians from New Orleans, driven by the higher earnings that were offered to the north and following the flow of internal migration that led the population to move to large industrial centers arrived in Chicago (King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong to name but a few) and here was created a school that formed many protagonists mainly white, including Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Pee Wee Russell.
Jazz became more and more popular and also became popular as dance music and in nightclubs. Many protagonists, including saxophonist Sidney Bechet, toured Europe. The importance of the improvising soloist among the first Louis Armstrong orchestras increased. Armstrong had been the second cornet in King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and became famous also thanks to recordings with his groups, the Hot Five and the Hot Seven in 1925.
The first big orchestras were born, big bands like those of Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman (the first performer of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue) and Duke Ellington. New York soon became, after Chicago, one of the capitals of jazz, determining the beginning of the jazz age.
Following the stock market crisis of October 1929, musical entertainment in the USA underwent a dramatic reset and in the years immediately following, which went down in history as "the Great Depression", few musicians managed to survive with their music. The best started successful performances in Europe; the others struggled to make ends meet. The musical rebirth, and with it the total rebirth of America, is linked to the intuition of a young musician of Jewish origin, Benny Goodman. He developed an original musical formula using a constant time, thus making the new style "danceable", and a progressive acceleration in tones, timbres, counterpoints. The music that came out of it was called "swing", like the baseball player's clubbing ring. Each song begins with tranquility to unleash progressively, but strictly maintaining the same rhythm. To make the new style even more pleasing to the dancers, Goodman used a large orchestra, with a rich section of wind instruments and a rhythmic section. The typical swing orchestra line-up included three or four trumpets, three trombones, five saxophones including two altos, two tenors and a baritone. The rhythm section included a guitar, a double bass, a piano and a drums. To this formation was added the instrument of the leader, in the case of Goodman the clarinet.
The jazz orchestras became the main vehicle for the diffusion of jazz. During this period, the orchestras of Benny Goodman (who hired Fletcher Henderson as arranger), Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Chick Webb (who had Ella Fitzgerald as singer), Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, took the lead in the music charts, launching new dances such as jitterbug and swing.
New York took a leading role on the jazz scene, first with the clubs and dance halls of Harlem (including the famous Cotton Club), then with the clubs that flourished around the Greenwich Village, Broadway and 52nd Street, nicknamed Swing Street or "the street that never sleeps. These were the stages that led to the success of Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young. The style that was born in these clubs was relaxed and nocturnal, exemplified by the interpretation of Body and Soul given in those years by Hawkins, who was also one of the instrumentalists who made the tenor sax the dominant voice of jazz.
A jazz style that was more blues-oriented and less urban than the New York style was practiced in those years by the orchestras of Kansas City, the founding place of the Count Basie orchestra. In this city many protagonists of the following years were formed, including the quai Art Tatum and Roy Eldridge.
Racial segregation, which until then had been the rule in jazz orchestras as well as clubs, began to lose some of its compactness in those years, thanks also to the courageous example of conductors such as Goodman and Shaw who took African-American artists Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday on tour.
Forties and fifties
The changed economic conditions forced most of the big orchestras to close down. Only the largest survived: those of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton were among the most long-lived, extending their activities into the 1960s and beyond. From left to right: Tommy Potter, Charlie Parker, Max Roach (almost hidden by Parker), Miles Davis and Duke Jordan, portrayed by William P. Gottlieb at the Three Deuces, on 52nd Street, around August 1947.
Around 1945, a new style was born, born from the late jam sessions held in two clubs in Harlem, the Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's. This style was first called rebop, then bebop or simply bop, from the sound of a recurring phrase in the typical songs of this new music and was practiced mainly by young musicians, just arrived on the jazz scene in New York. Characterized by complex harmonies and very fast times, the bebop was baptized by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who was the pioneer along with the high saxophonist Charlie Parker - called Bird or Yardbird. The success of the new genre, which attracted an intellectual audience (the boppers immediately attracted the admiration of many exponents of the beatnik literary movement) and much more restricted than that of the big bands, highlighted other protagonists of the period: the pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his friend (also a pianist) Bud Powell, drummer Kenny Clarke, trumpeters Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro, saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt, drummers Max Roach and Kenny Clarke. The bebop was much criticized both as a youth movement and a social phenomenon, and - for different reasons - from a musical point of view. Social criticism initially focused on the most provocative aspects of the attitude and lifestyle of the boppers and then focused mainly on the contiguity between the world of jazz and drugs, which, in the early fifties, began to reap high-profile victims among jazz in general and among the boppers in particular. Billie Holiday, Fats Navarro and Charlie Parker were only the most famous musicians to find death because of their addiction: many others, if they did not die, suffered the consequences of this scourge. From a musical point of view, some artists of the previous generation (which the boppers called "mouldy figs", "moldy figs") distinguished themselves as particularly severe critics: the most famous of these was undoubtedly Louis Armstrong. Other important exponents of the classical jazz current, however, were able to grasp the elements of interest contained in the new movement: one name among all is that of Coleman Hawkins.
The end of the forties and the first half of the fifties saw a reaction to the most extreme aspects of the bebop movement, a reaction that, from its melodic and relaxed characteristics, took the name of cool jazz. Begun in New York and the Midwest by the experiences of Miles Davis and Gil Evans (of whom we remember the album Birth of the Cool), Lennie Tristano and others, cool jazz was the first jazz style to take root in California. Many of its protagonists were whites: Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker (who created a famous quartet), Lee Konitz, Dave Brubeck, saxophonists Stan Getz (who was also the protagonist of the fusion of jazz with Brazilian music) and Paul Desmond. African-American John Lewis developed the cool aesthetic by creating a quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, which fused jazz with elements and sounds derived from European classical (especially Baroque) music. From these experiences began a movement, called "Third Stream" that tried to combine jazz with other experiences from the cultured musical tradition: one of its greatest exponents was Gunther Schuller.
The bebop in the fifties meanwhile matured, abandoning part of its more experimental characteristics and evolving into a genre of easier listening that was called hard bop, whose protagonists include Art Blakey, and its Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, Miles Davis and its classic formations including John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, Cannonball Adderley. The fifties were also the years that saw the birth of a young star of Jazz as Ray Charles, still considered one of the leading musicians of the twentieth century, and one of the pioneers of soul music.
The experiences of orchestral jazz continued, albeit with difficulty, with the orchestras of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, and with the original collaborations of Miles Davis and Gil Evans. Double bassist Charles Mingus stood out as a prominent figure at the head of large formations (although not properly orchestral).
During this decade jazz faced numerous transformations that ended up dividing it into multiple styles.
The hard bop current began to divide between those who followed the experience of Miles Davis and John Coltrane in the so-called "modal jazz" (a meditative and intellectual musical style, which saw its foundation in the historic recording of Davis in 1959, Kind of Blue) and those who preferred to approach the rhythm and blues practicing what some called "soul jazz".
The modal style lived its most fruitful period at the turn of the late fifties and mid-sixties, especially with the activity of the (second) quintet of Miles Davis and the quartet of John Coltrane, ending up becoming a consolidated idiom of the jazz tradition.
A more radical and controversial trend was determined by the contemporary advent of a style that was first called "The New Thing" ("the new thing") and then "free jazz". Founded at the end of the fifties by young musicians such as Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, free jazz practiced a form of total collective improvisation whose consequence is the total shattering of most of the traditional ideas of form, harmony, melody and rhythm. As well as implying a strong component of political and social criticism, free jazz also incorporated a multitude of musical influences from Asia and Africa. Free jazz attracted the attention of many protagonists (Charles Mingus, Steve Lacy, Sun Ra), recruited brilliant young people (Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders) and received harsh criticism from some of the most prominent names (Davis and Gillespie among others) giving rise to controversies that were among the most violent jazz had ever known and that lasted decades without ever running out, even after the historical experience of free jazz could be said to have ended: the most heated critics said that free jazz removed the distinction between those who knew how to play and those who didn't. There is no doubt, however, that the free jazz movement almost totally lacked the popular component that for a long time had been one of the two souls of jazz, and that it was followed almost exclusively by the elite: this, in the USA, also decreed a growing commercial failure, which became all the more evident as the success of other contemporary musical genres was magnified. In free jazz ended up merging some exponents of the part considered most "educated" of jazz: the most prominent among them was undoubtedly John Coltrane, who approached the free jazz movement in the last years of his life. Free jazz was more successful in Europe, where many young musicians adopted it as a vehicle for incorporating a variety of musical and cultural contexts into their jazz language.
A different stylistic trend was born from the mutual attention that some jazz musicians and the new generation of Brazilian music turned to. Already Jelly Roll Morton had defined jazz as a music that contained "Spanish nuances" ("spanish tinge"). This definition had been honoured over the years by several composers (one name for all: Duke Ellington). In the 1950s some musicians, whose most famous representative was undoubtedly Dizzy Gillespie, had combined jazz with stylistic themes typical of Cuban and Latin music in general ("Afro-Cuban bop"). This style availed itself of the contribution and influence of musicians from Latin America (Chano Pozo, Xavier Cugat, Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval), as well as the instrumentation and forms typical of the Latin tradition. It was in the wake of this tradition that in the 1960s representatives of the Brazilian Bossa Nova movement (Elizete Cardoso, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, João Gilberto, Luiz Bonfá, Chico Buarque de Hollanda) began various collaborations with jazz musicians such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, creating a style known as "jazz samba". The movement was launched by a series of recordings by Getz, the most famous of which also saw the participation of Joao Gilberto and his wife Astrud Gilberto as a singer. Several pieces became planetary successes (such as Garota de Ipanema).
In the second half of the sixties, the eruption of the phenomenon of mass music, which largely focused on the younger generations and their music of choice, rock, put in difficulty, even economic, most jazz musicians. Those who didn't choose the radical critique of free jazz and who didn't disappear from the scene had to change their style. Some chose to accentuate the funky character of their music to the point of being related to funky and increasingly popular soul-dance music. A different trend sought the approach to rock and electronics, and led to the birth of the so-called fusion genre. Many critics believe that among the first fusion recordings there are Hot Rats by Frank Zappa, who seemed to approach jazz starting from rock with this 1969 album, and the double album Bitches Brew by Miles Davis (1970). Then followed numerous protagonists, with names such as Weather Report (a supergroup including some former Miles Davis musicians - Joseph Zawinul and Wayne Shorter - and the rising bass star Jaco Pastorius), Herbie Hancock, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Many of these experiences were branded by critics as commercial (and some undoubtedly were).
At the end of the seventies the "free and" experience lost strength and audience and saw the disappearance or defection of many of its protagonists, as well as a sharp reduction in the number of fans. In the years after 1980, a group of artists reacted to this trend with particular energy, recalling the so-called mainstream (stylistically referable to the different stylistic currents that emerged and were practiced in the fifties and sixties, sometimes also referred to as "straight-ahead"). Among them, the young Wynton Marsalis, who strongly promoted the theme of finding the roots and original forms of music, was particularly highlighted. Modern example of Third Stream influence is the music of Charles Mingus, Krzysztof Penderecki, Nikolaj Kapustin, Kobi Arad and others.
While many of the old guard's musicians continued to tread the scene, the years between 1980 and the beginning of the 21st century saw the emergence of many new interesting musicians, even in the European area that assumed its own identity compared to previous periods, during which European jazz had almost always been in a position of subordination to the U.S. model.
Popular but cultured music
Jazz music is one of the most important musical phenomena of the 20th century. It represents a genre that, starting from forms such as spiritual, blues and band music has gradually incorporated other black music (such as the ragtime of the 1920s) and came to a standard then used as a starting point for continuous changes in the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic modules. All jazz music has been defined as cultured because it is the result of the knowledge of classical music, of the various musical ethnic groups and of complex harmonic developments, even if this was not yet found in the original blues.
A quality passage can be attributed to George Gershwin, a musician who was inspired by composers such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. In his vast production there are numerous works defined as minor used as inexhaustible standards. Debussy himself was influenced by jazz, as in Golliwogg's Cakewalk, a piece placed at the end of Children's Corner, one of his most famous piano suites.