Improvisation in Jazz

by Claire Jackson

While improvisation exists in almost every genre of music, it is a very strong element of Jazz. To be a Jazz performer is to be able to improvise a solo, and to have a style that is almost like a specialty. While it is often not technically on the spot, it is a very common occurrence in band performances that the musicians’ solos are their own spin on the already prearranged music.

Above here, is a video of Louis Armstrong’s Orchestra doing “Improvisational Jazz.” Each musician has his own flare on the music, and they collaborate together to make a collective whole that flows well, even though none of it was previously written down or expected to happen.

Here is a video of Miles Davis improvising, While he is doing his solo, the band behind him keeps up the rhythm for him to continue to play off of and grow off of. This is an example of how one musician can take the lead in an improvisation and the others can follow. For example, the pianist begins to join in with Davis and add their flare to the music, even though there is no sheet music for them to follow, only just musical inclination and intuition. The drummer also does this, and changes up their pattern and rhythm to accompany Davis and the pianist as they take turns for their solos.

Here, Ella Fitzgerald actually forgets the words to the music. She begins to use her voice as an instrument, and begins to scat and improvise. This is another very fun aspect of Jazz, one that adds more personality and expression to the genre as well. Using ones’ voice as an instrument through scatting is another special and unique element that sets Jazz apart from other genres.

Overall, improvisation is a very interesting and unique feature to Jazz. Although this may occur in most genres, there is none quite similar to how Jazz musicians improvise and grow off of each other’s energies while performing. This forms a very large part of the genre, especially the heart that is put into music and and the passion.

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