The Versatility of Jazz Music

Jazz is often regarded as “America’s classical music” or “African American classical music”. Many view it as the pinnacle of African American music in the twentieth century; jazz music is differentiated from other genres due to the originality of its improvisation, the extreme skill exhibited by its performers and composers, and its overall artistry. The well known musical aspects of jazz consist of syncopation, swing rhythms, blues feeling, and harmonic complexities. Contrary to other African American musical genres, jazz music highlights instrumental performance rather than vocal performance.

There are various sub-genres of jazz, to include Bebop, Cool Jazz and Hard Bop, Modal, Free, and types of jazz that center around specific cities such as New Orleans and Chicago. Some regard George Russel as the “conceptual father” of modal jazz. His books gave the improvisor and composer a complex system of associating chords with scales organized by their degree of consonance or dissonance. Essentially, all jazz is improvisation within and around the rules of music theory. Thus, jazz musicians are very skilled in their craft. 

Jazz provides musicians with avenues to do things musically that were not previously accepted as “correct”. The development of this flexible genre sheds a light on the creativity of Black people and is arguably one of the best genres.

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