Looking for some great examples of jazz music with lyrics? Here are five of our favorites, ranging from classic standards to more modern tunes.
What is Jazz?
Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as “America’s classical music”. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime.
The Birth of Jazz
The origins of jazz are complicated and much debated. What is clear is that it developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a result of the intermingling of European and African musical traditions in the American South. The music first emerged in New Orleans, where it was played by marching bands and eventually made its way upriver to Memphis, St. Louis, and Chicago.
Over time, the music became more complex, drawing on elements of blues, Ragtime, and European classical music. By the 1920s, jazz was being performed by large orchestras led by bandleaders such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. The music continued to evolve in the 1930s and 1940s, with the advent of bebop, a style that emphasized complex melodies and improvisation.
Today, jazz is enjoyed all over the world and is recognized as one of America’s greatest cultural exports. It remains an important part of American music, with artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday continuing to shape the sound of the genre.
Jazz in the Present
Though Jazz was born in the United States, it has since spread around the world and taken on many different forms. These days, you can find Jazz being played in clubs, concert halls, and even on the radio. If you’re looking for a taste of Jazz in the present, check out these five examples of contemporary Jazz music with lyrics.
1. “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” by Kamasi Washington
2. “All That I Need” by Trombone Shorty
3. “Havana” by Sublime Frequencies
4. “No Woman, No Cry” by Gregory Porter
5. “Moody’s Mood for Love” by Amy Winehouse
The Different Types of Jazz
Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as “America’s classical music”. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as “one of America’s original art forms”.
A UNESCO study found that “In all its forms – including its cross fertilization with other genres – jazz represents individualism within unity: each performer is both part of the collectivity (the band) and an improvising individual.” According to many scholars, jazz has exhibited an ability to absorb influences from other genres of music and to incorporate elements from across the globe throughout its history. From its early development until today, jazz has taken on many aspects. To state that there are just five types or styles of jazz would be limiting; however, these five types or styles of jazz do provide a foundation for understanding this complex music genre.
Dixieland: Also known as Classic Jazz or Traditional Jazz, Dixieland was the first type or style of jazz ever performed. It originated in New Orleans in the late 19th century but reached its height of popularity during the Roaring Twenties – also known as the Jazz Age – in America when bands such as The Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded mainstream hits such as “Tiger Rag” (1917) and “When The Saints Go Marching In” (1923). Dixieland is still performed today but is no longer considered cutting edge or avant-garde; however it remains influential through traditionalists such as Wynton Marsalis who helped spur a mini-revival during the 1980s along with his affiliation with historic venues such as Nola Studios and Preservation Hall located in New Orleans’ French Quarter which remain popular tourist destinations for fans of this particular type or style of jazz even though most tourists are actually listening to contemporary artists influenced by Dixieland rather than actual Dixieland bands themselves.
Swing: Developed out ofDixielandin the early 1930s Swing was big banddance mussic characterized by a strong rhythm section featuring drums, bass & piano with horns playing melody lines & improvising solos above. Bands such asBenny Goodman’s Quartet,Chick Webb’s Orchestra &Count Basie’s Orchestrawere popular during what was known at the time asthe Swing Era which lasted from 1935–1945 & saw both black & white performers achieve national prominence with hits such as”Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing)” (1936),”Take The ‘A’ Train” (1941) &”One O’Clock Jump” (1942). Although not nearly as prevalent asthey were during their initial run many contemporary artists havedrawn inspiration from this style which continues to influenceall forms or jazz including more modern styles discussed below..
Bebop: Developing outof Swingin the early 1940s Bebop essentially forsook danceability infavor intricate melodies often played at fast tempos with virtuosic improvisation becoming more important than ever before giving riseto what many critics consider tbe first truly modern styleofjazz. Popular songs associatedwith Bebop include Charlie Parker’s composition “Now’s The Time”(1946) & Dizzy Gillespie’s arrangementof “Salt Peanuts” (1945).” Groove: A catch-all term used to describe any typeor styleofjazz featuringa repetitive& infectious rhythm often inspiredby funk& Soul ratherthan earlierformsorjazz& improvisation taking a back seatto rhythmic groove although solos are still allowed they tendto be shorter& less complex than those associatedwith othertypesorstylesofjazz.. One oftbe earliest examplesofGroovecan be foundin Miles Davis’ milestone recording Bitches Brew(1970) which signaled a move away from acoustic instrumentation towards electric keyboards,wind instruments & drums giving Grooveits trademark sound which would be later perfected by subsequent artists influencedby Bitches Brew& Davis himself who would continue toevolve his own sound until his death bedside making him one offew true pioneers inthe historyorjazz.. Contemporary exponentsincludeGregory Porter(& Kamasi Washingtonwhose albumThe Epic(2015) brought Grooveback into themainstream after years spentin relative obscurity outsideorjazz circles..
Jazz Music with Lyrics
Jazz music with lyrics can be a great way to relax and unwind. The smooth, mellow tones of the music can help you to wind down after a long day. The lyrics can also be a great way to express your emotions. Here are five examples of jazz music with lyrics that you can enjoy.
“Ain’t Misbehavin'” by Fats Waller
“Ain’t Misbehavin'” is a Jazz standard song originally written in 1929 by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks. The lyrics are based on Waller’s own cheeky misbehaviour, and the overall tone of the song is light-hearted and flirtatious. It has been recorded by many artists over the years, but one of the most well-known versions is by Louis Armstrong.
“Ain’t Misbehavin'” is a perfect example of how Jazz music can be enhanced by lyrics. The addition of lyrics gives the song a more story-like quality, and allows the artist to explore the emotions behind the mischievous behaviour described in the song. The result is a catchy, fun, and entertaining song that still manages to convey a message of love and mischief.
“Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra
“Fly Me to the Moon”, originally titled “In Other Words”, is a song written in 1954 by Bart Howard. Kaye Ballard made the first recording of the song the same year. Frank Sinatra’s 1964 version was closely associated with the Apollo missions to the Moon.
In 1999, the Sinatra family helped campaign for “Fly Me to the Moon” to be sent to Mars on the Mars Polar Lander. Although that mission failed, various versions of the song have been played on every subsequent NASA mission including a current one on Mars Curiosity Rover which was launched in 2012.
The tune is also used frequently in popular culture as background music or as adaptation in other works, such as video games and films.
“My Funny Valentine” by Miles Davis
“My Funny Valentine” is a popular song written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1937. It was originally performed by Jerry Ross and Jennifer Wayne in the musical Babes in Arms, and has been covered by many artists since, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Diana Krall, Chet Baker, and Miles Davis. The lyrics describe a Valentine’s Day date that does not go as planned, with the singer eventually declaring that their date is “my funny valentine.”
“My Funny Valentine” has been recorded by over 500 different artists and is considered one of the most popular standards in the jazz repertoire. It has been featured in numerous films and television shows, including The Simpsons, Cheers, La La Land, and Mad Men.
“Summertime” by Ella Fitzgerald
“Summertime” is a song composed by George Gershwin in 1934, with lyrics by DuBose Heyward. The song was first performed in the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. It subsequently became a popular jazz standard and was recorded by numerous artists. The lyrics of thesong are written in AABA form.
The melody of “Summertime” is based on the spiritual “There Is a Balm in Gilead”, which was also adapted into an early gospel hymn by James Milton Black and published as “Gilead” in 1918. In turn, the melody of “Gilead” is based on the folk tune “Plenty Good Room”, which was collected by Denson in his book Negro Folk Songs from Texas (1933).
The opening bars of “Summertime” are very similar to those of the folksong “Early One Morning”.
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
One of the most popular examples of jazz music with lyrics is Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” This song was released in 1967 and has been covered by numerous artists over the years. The lyrics are optimistic and celebrate the simple wonders of life.
“What a Wonderful World”
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you