What is jazz?

Jazz is a music genre that evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries in New Orleans, Louisiana. Blues and ragtime were also instrumental in developing the genre. Jazz is a unique genre and often free-handed by an artist. Jazz is very rhythmic and has a forward momentum called swing, and uses bent or blue notes. 

A Deep Dive into Jazz:

Jazz musicians place a high value on finding their sound and style; for example, Miles Davis sounds very different from Louis Armstrong. Fellow Jazz musicians have been able to cultivate a distinguished sound unique to them and their target audience. Jazz is fascinating, in my opinion, because two artists could perform the same song but freestyle it in a way that is a polar opposite and adds their own sense of style. This is one of the reasons a lot of people consider jazz “America’s classical music.” Jazz developed in the United States in the very early part of the 20th century. New Orleans near the Mississippi River played a vital role in this development process. African American musical traditions mixed with others, and gradually Jazz emerged from a blend of ragtime, marches, blues, and other kinds of music. Initially, Jazz was created for dancing and performing, but it is a universal genre that most people enjoy.

A stylized illustration of a jazz trio including a trumpeter, bassist and drummer

Swing Jazz

Swing music is a sub-genre of jazz that came to light in the 1930s and 1940s in the United States of America. This type of jazz introduced a slower, off-beat pulse and inspired Swing. Swing is the type of music that soloists improvise on—the melody over the arrangement to create a more free feeling. Swing jazz is also a form of jazz that many African Americans danced to during this era. Swing is sometimes considered a partial dilution of the jazz tradition. It organized musicians into larger groups and required them to play a far higher proportion of written music than was thought compatible with jazz’s fundamentally improvisatory character.


Bebop is a small-band contemporary jazz music style that emerged in the 1940s. Bebop has its roots in swing music and features quick tempos, daring improvisation, complex harmonies, chord progressions, and individual skill.