Jazz is a diverse genre of music with a rich history. It has evolved over time, giving rise to many different subgenres. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most popular types of jazz music.

Jazz Music has come a long way. In one of his very famous quotes, Louis Armstrong once said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” Jazz is one of the most prominent genres that is known to heal the feeling and soul. This is one of the main reasons why it was so popular back in the 90s. 

What is Jazz music?

Jazz music is one of the vast music genres in which improvisation plays a key role. Jazz performances are mostly focused on players playing solo music on-the-spot which require excellent skills. As a beginner, you will notice that jazz is rhythmic and has various forward momentums, often referred to as “swings”, and uses bent or blue note. The “call-and-response” pattern in jazz musical makes it unique than other music genres. Jazz musical often helps depict the deep inner emotions of a person – from sheer happiness to excruciating pain. 

Jazz music history is huge. There are different types of Jazz music. This variety is what makes Jazz music unique from the other musical genres. 

Different Types of Jazz Music

Jazz is like an umbrella term. You can’t always limit Jazz musical to a specific type of music. Two Jazz musicians are very likely to have something in common. Since Jazz music is broad and is said to have undergone various changes, there are various radical innovations to take care of. 

Old jazz music history isn’t something straight but complex. Jazz is a type of musical genre that doesn’t categorize or identify itself with particular music. In fact, even today, every Jazz musician has his own style. Everyone is bringing something different to the table. Therefore, it can be said that there are a variety of Jazz styles present. 

1. Swing

The name is something new, like the music it produced. One of the key factors to note about the music was that it paved the way for forwarding propulsion. Every player had their own note. Swing Jazz (an old jazz music form) dates back to 1914-26. 

During this period, old jazz music was very popular. However, the music re-emerged again in 1930. Swing Jazz had a invigorating style and had a group performing at least 10-16 pieces. One of the most notable things about Swing Jazz was that it did not limit itself to large ensembles. 

Within a short time, this old jazz music style became one of the most popular dance music. It helped people to develop a connection with the music. This eventually fueled its growth among people, which was not the case with other music. 

2. Bebop

Bebop jazz musical was heavily influenced by Swing, but it wasn’t the same. Unlike anything, the characteristics of Bebop Jazz music were that it was fast, loud, and exciting. Such an old jazz music style originated in the 1940s with the coming in of prominent musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie. After them came Art Blakely and Miles Davis. 

Bebop was hailed to be the genre of the artisan. The Jazz musician had complete flexibility to create a Jazz musical that would cater to the needs of the musician. Being different from the other types of old Jazz music, it was not quite liked by the common people. 

Bebop had a complex composition, heavy use of instruments, and too fast music. These were something that couldn’t be understood by the people. As a result, this led to rejection of such old jazz music style from the public. Nonetheless, it was only recently when Bebop got much-deserved attention from the public. Ever since then, this old jazz music form has made its mark in history. 

3. Hard Bop

Hard Bop was one of the most prominent musical genres that were liked by people who loved dark music. It focused a lot on emphasized drumming. It emerged between the period of 1950s to 1960s. Hard Bop was one of the Jazz music that had gospel-like chords and blue-like melodies. It focused on dark yet soulful pitches. 

4. Cool Jazz

The 1940s-50s saw the emergence of various types of music, in fact, Bebop as well. It served as an alternative style of Bebop. One of the main reasons people liked Cool Jazz was because of its mellow vibe. 

Cool Jazz had a very harmonious vibe along with its slow tempo. This was Jazz music that reflected the casual attitude of California, the place of its origin. Cool Jazz was inspired by classical music, but it did some very formal arrangements. 

Artisans who contributed significantly to the rise of Cool Jazz music include Gerry Mulligan, Stan Get, Paul Desmond, and Dave Brubeck. 

5. Modal Jazz

As we moved to modernization, we saw the emergence of various other types of Jazz at the same time. Well, modal Jazz was no different. Incorporated by heavy mode modulation and few chord changes, Modal Jazz had its pioneers in John Coltrane and Miles Davis. 

Modal Jazz’s bass was its melodic piece. It saw the use of complex use of instruments and chord progression, something that wasn’t seen earlier. Some of the other modal Jazz artists who contributed significantly to the popularity of the same were Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, and Charles Mingus. 

6. Free Jazz

Free Jazz is modern Jazz musical that was founded in New York in the early 1960s. Free Jazz required a wave of freshness, something which wasn’t seen earlier. Free Jazz was a type of Jazz musical style that broke away from the convention.

Ever since the beginning, various Jazz musical styles followed certain rules, but Free Jazz did not. No musicians were bound to any parameter. Thus, everything went per their convenience. This was one of the music genres that neither saw any chord changes, tempo, or tone changes. It also broke away from the conventional structure. 

Free Jazz had the use of improvisation and heavy modulation. Songs of different genres were incorporated and considered to be Free Jazz. However, this was also one of the main reasons why Free Jazz was often criticized by the audience. 

7. Post Bop

Post Bop was one major jazz musical genre that was heavily influenced by Hard Bop, Free Jazz, Modal Jazz, and Bebop. Post Bop found its prominence mostly in the 1960s. 

Like Free Jazz, Post Bop also didn’t have any conventions. Nonetheless, it was heavily inspired by other Jazz musical genres as well, which is why it had to be constrained a little. Some of the most noteworthy features of this Jazz musical style include abstract structure, odd rhythm, and long solos. 

8. Smooth Jazz

Smooth Jazz found its prominence during the 1980s and 1990s. It saw the coming together of various musical genres such as Jazz, Pop, and lo-fi R&B., One of the main reasons why this 1990s Jazz musical style catered to the audience, was because it had very light listening. 

Smooth Jazz required the use of various instruments such as drums, electric bass, saxophones, and synthesizers. It followed a very subtle melodic rhythm and groove that catered to the needs of the audience. Furthermore, it followed an improv nature, which was one key characteristic of Smooth Jazz. 

The artists who contributed significantly to the rise of Smooth Jazz were George Benson, Kenny G, and Grover Washington Jr.. 

9. Jazz Fusion

Jazz Fusion wasn’t anything like the other Jazz musical style that came before it. Jazz Fusion followed a very commercial approach. Jazz Fusion was a fusion between traditional Jazz music and various elements from funk, rock, and R&B music. It was also known to be Progressive Jazz music. 

During the 1960s, Rock n Roll was very popular. However, Jazz fusion gave a tough competition to it. Artists such as Weather Report, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Miles Davis contributed significantly to the increasing popularity of Jazz Fusion. 

One of the most notable things about Jazz Fusion was that it had a lot within a small banner. While some songs played in the repeated melody, others had various chords, signatures, and heavy improvisation. 

10. Avant-Garde Jazz

This type of Jazz music took birth in the 1950s, and the audience instantly connected to it. It pushed the boundaries of jazz music. It brought about atonality and improvisation. Furthermore, Avant-Garde Jazz also paged the way for radical harmonies. 

It was the characteristics of this Jazz music that set it apart from contemporary Jazz music. While it was influenced by traditional Jazz music, it was also heavily inspired by Western Classical music. 

When Did Jazz Music Start?

Early Jazz is sometimes also referred to as Dixieland or Hot Jazz. The birthplace of this musical genre was the city of New Orleans. It is said to be one of the earliest forms of Jazz to have been found in 1920s. 

Early Jazz was categorized by the use of various musical instruments, such as tuba, upright bass, drums, trumpets, clarinets, banjos, saxophones, and more. Music was free in the era, and artists had complete control over their creativity. 

Band improvisation was one of the most important things to note during that era. It wasn’t anything like sheet music, as people were allowed to experiment. Some of the notable connoisseurs of Early Jazz music were Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. 

What Did Jazz Music Influence?

Popular music genres like Rock, R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop, etc. are heavily influenced by Jazz music. The unique jazz rhythms and harmonies are often featured in music genres having a swaying rhythm, like Latin styled jazz or R&B. Similarly, Jazz has also contributed to elevating Hip-Hop music in modern culture.

Characteristics of Jazz Music

Jazz has various unique characteristics which varies depending on the type of music style. However, a few defining characteristics of jazz are:

  • Swing and blue notes
  • Complex chords
  • Solos
  • Call and response vocals
  • Polyrhythms
  • Improvisation

Jazz Music doesn’t limit itself to any particular instrument or chord. It is open to improvisation. Every artist and era has had its own version of Jazz. It is the creative freedom of this type of music that connects to the audience and brings about emotional satisfaction in the audience. Jazz improvisation became a hit among the audience because of blue scales. Even today, modern-day Jazz undergoes massive changes. 

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