Getting Jazzy

Types of Jazz

There are many sub-genres of jazz: Classical/ Traditional, Bebop, Free Jazz, Jazz Fusion, and Modal. All of these sub-genres have different elements that make them unique in their own way.

Classical/ Traditional

Traditional Jazz originated in New Orleans. It has influences from swing bands and ragtime. Jazz was known as a more creative form of music that gave Black people a source of pride in their community. Major Traditional Jazz artists include: Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marshall, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis.


Bebop was another type of Jazz. This style of Jazz, you could not dance to. It had a steady melody, however it had a faster tempo and more improvisation than traditional jazz. Dizzy Gillespie is one popular Bebop Jazz artists. Others include Charlie Parker and Bud Powell.

Free Jazz

Free Jazz is played more…freely. There are not the constraints of a chord to follow and play in, or set tempos. Musicians, like Ornette Coleman and Pharaoh Sanders, that played free jazz did not like the limitations traditional and bebop jazz held, so they became more creative, improvising both music and instruments that were used. 

Jazz Fusion

Jazz Fusion was the sub-genre of jazz that began combining jazz with other genres. Elements of rock, funk, and R&B all began to fuse into jazz sounds to create a whole new expereince for jazz performers and listeners. Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock were well known for their jazz fusion songs.

Modal Jazz

Modal jazz is simple. It tends to shuffle between different mode, while sticking to the same tonal base the entire time. John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ is an example of Modal Jazz, as you can hear the base tone stay continuous while he shuffles through different modes to play the melody.