How to Get Into Jazz Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Discover how to get into jazz music, an art form with a rich history and bright future. From its origins to its current popularity, jazz has something to offer everyone.

Start with the basics

Getting into jazz music can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be! Start by listening to some of the greats, like Miles Davis or John Coltrane. Get a feel for the different styles of jazz and what you like. Once you have a good understanding of the basics, you can start digging deeper and learning more about the history and theory behind the music. There are endless resources out there to help you on your journey into Jazz- let the exploring begin!

Listen to a variety of Jazz artists

Jazz is an American art form that originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in African American communities in the Southern United States. Jazz is a genre of music that is characterized by a wide range of styles, including Ragtime, Big Band, Swing, Bebop, and Fusion.

There are many great Jazz artists to listen to, but here are a few to get you started:

-Louis Armstrong
-Miles Davis
-John Coltrane
-Thelonious Monk
-Ella Fitzgerald

Find a style that you like

When you’re looking to get into Jazz music, the best thing to do is find a style that you like. For example, if you’re a fan of rock music, you might want to check out fusion jazz. If you’re a fan of classical music, you might want to check out straight-ahead jazz. There are many different styles of jazz, so it’s important to find one that you’ll enjoy. Once you find a style that you like, you can start exploring the different artists within that style.

Traditional Jazz

Jazz music has been around for over a century, and in that time, it has developed into a wide variety of styles. From the early roots in New Orleans and Chicago, to the global influences of Latin America and Europe, jazz has continued to evolve and grow. If you’re new to jazz, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. But don’t worry—we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular jazz styles so you can find the one that’s right for you.

Traditional Jazz
Traditional jazz is often referred to as “Dixieland” or “New Orleans” jazz. It’s the style of jazz that was first developed in the early 1900s, and it’s characterized by a lively rhythm and simple melodies. If you’re looking for something upbeat and easy to listen to, traditional jazz is a great place to start.

Some of the most famous traditional jazz musicians include Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Bix Beiderbecke.

Ragtime Jazz

Ragtime Jazz is a subgenre of jazz that developed in the early 1900s. It’s named for the syncopated, or “ragged,” rhythms that are characteristic of the style. Ragtime Jazz is often played on piano and features a driving, upbeat tempo. If you’re new to jazz, ragtime is a great place to start because it’s easy to dance to and its catchy melodies are easy to remember. Notable ragtime jazz musicians include Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and Fats Waller.

Swing Jazz

Swing Jazz is a type of Jazz that started in the 1920s. It is characterized by a strong rhythm section, wind instruments, and soloing. The most famous Swing Jazz musician is Louis Armstrong.

Bebop Jazz

Bebop jazz is a style of music that developed in the early 1940s. It is characterized by fast tempos, complex melodies, and improvisation. Bebop was created by African American musicians who were trying to create their own sound. They were influenced by the blues, but they also wanted to create something new. Bebop is considered to be the first truly American form of jazz.

Bebop jazz is characterized by its fast tempo and complex melodies. Bebop musicians often played very fast solos, which were improvised. Bebop tunes were often based on blues progressions, but they also incorporated elements from other genres of music, such as Latin music and African music. Bebop was also influenced by the work of European classical composers such as Sergei Prokofiev and Darius Milhaud.

Bebop was developed in the early 1940s by a small group of African American musicians who were dissatisfied with the existing styles of jazz. They wanted to create something new that would be more challenging and would better reflect their own experience and culture. The first bebop recordings were made in 1945, and the style quickly gained popularity among young African American musicians. Bebop soon spread to other parts of the United States and to Europe, where it continued to develop as a distinct style of jazz.

Hard Bop Jazz

Hard bop is a subgenre of jazz that is an extension of bebop (or “bop”) music. Hard bop developed in the mid- to late-1950s, partly as a reaction against the rigidity of cool jazz. Hard bop generally has a tempo range from about 150 beats per minute (bpm) to about 250 bpm, and incorporates influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and sometimes Latin music. Swing-era musicians, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk created bebop.

Cool Jazz

One of the great things about jazz is that there are so many different styles to choose from. If you’re just getting into the genre, it can be helpful to start with a style that you’re already familiar with or that appeals to your taste. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular jazz styles:

-Cool jazz: A subgenre of jazz that emerged in the 1950s. It’s characterized by a relaxed, mellow sound and often features complex harmonies.

-Hard bop: A style that developed in the mid-1950s, hard bop is a fusion of bebop and blues. It’s characterized by a fast tempo, blue notes, and extended improvisation.

-Avant-garde jazz: A style that emerged in the 1960s and is characterized by experimentalism and free improvisation.

-Smooth jazz: A style that developed in the 1980s, smooth jazz is a fusion of jazz and pop music. It’s characterized by a mellow sound and often features synthesizers and electric guitars.

Free Jazz

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a new form of jazz emerged that was characterized by a freedom of expression that was in stark contrast to the bebop style that had come before it. This new style, known as free jazz, abandoned the traditional framework of composition and improvisation in favor of a more open-ended approach.

While there are many different subgenres of jazz, free jazz is considered to be one of the most avant-garde and experimental. If you’re looking to get into this style of jazz, you’ll need to be prepared for some truly unique sounds. Here are a few tips on how to get into free jazz:

1. Listen to a wide variety of free jazz artists.

There is no one sound that defines free jazz, so it’s important to listen to as many different artists as possible in order to get a sense of the genre’s range. Start with some well-known names like Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Archie Shepp, then branch out from there.

2. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path.

Free jazz can be pretty avant-garde, so don’t be afraid to explore some lesser-known artists and labels. You may have to do some digging to find hidden gems, but it will be worth it in the end.

3. Be patient and give yourself time to adjust.

Free jazz can be quite challenging for newcomers, so don’t expect to love it right away. Instead, give yourself some time to get used to the sounds and see if it clicks with you over time. It may take a while (or it may not), but eventually you’ll find yourself appreciating this unique style of music more and more.

Avant-Garde Jazz

Avant-garde jazz is a style of music and improvisation that combines avant-garde art music and composition with jazz. It originated in the mid-1950s with American composer John Cage and pianist Cecil Taylor.

Avant-garde jazz is often characterized by extended improvisation, experimental sounds, odd time signatures, and freeform melodies. The music often incorporates elements of other genres, such as classical, rock, and world music.

Avant-garde jazz is sometimes seen as a reaction against traditional jazz conventions. Some of the key figures in the avant-garde jazz movement include Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, andfree Jazz pioneer Sun Ra.

Start collecting Jazz albums

You needn’t spend a lot of money or time in a music store to get into jazz. A great way to start is by checking out your local library’s collection of jazz albums. You can also look for online streaming services that offer a wide variety of jazz music. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s best to begin with the classics. Here are some essential jazz albums to get you started.

Blue Note Records

Blue Note Records is an American jazz record label, established in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis. Originally dedicated to recording traditional jazz and small group swing, the label switched its focus to modern jazz in 1947. Lion first heard a Dixieland band led by Fats Waller at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and immediately loved the sound. He recorded the band, which included Meade Lux Lewis on piano and Albert Ammons on boogie-woogie piano, at their next gig at Small’s Paradise in Harlem. The recordings were so popular that they were released as Blue Note 10″ LP Albums Fats Waller’s Concerto Grosso (1941) and Boogie Woogie (1944).

Other important Blue Note artists from the 1940s include Howard McGhee, Barney Kessel, Dexter Gordon, Andy Razaf, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Herb Ellis, Jimmy Heath, Dudley Brooks trio featuring Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. The soft rock band Chicago’s Terry Kath appeared on a self-titled Blue Note album in 1968. In 1966, Lion sold Blue Note to Liberty Records. Under Liberty’s management, Blue Note became primarily a soul and R&B label while still recording some jazz albums. Some of the important artists signed to Blue Note during this era include Willie Hutch, Don Covay, Jimmy McGriff, Horace Silver Quintet featuring Blue Mitchell on trumpet and Junior Cook on tenor saxophone.

In 1985, EMI bought Liberty Records and with it Blue Note. At this time, Francis Wolff’s widow Ruth took over management of the label and oversaw its operations until 1999 when she sold it to EMN within Universal Music Group. During this time Wynton Marsalis became the most visible artist associated with Blue Note releasing a total of nine albums with the label including The Majesty Of The Blues (1989), Standard Time Vol 1 (1993), Blood On The Fields (1997) which won him a Pulitzer Prize for music composition. In 2000 Bruce Lundvall became president ofBlue Note Records until his retirement in 2011 when he was succeeded by Don Was who remains president to this day.

Impulse! Records

Founded by Creed Taylor in 1960, Impulse! records was home to some of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century. Albums like “My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme” by Coltrane, “Miles Ahead” by Miles Davis, and “The Shape of Jazz to Come” by Ornette Coleman helped define the sound of jazz in the 1960s and are considered essential listening for any fan of the genre. If you’re just getting into jazz, these are some great albums to start with.

Prestige Records

In the 1950s, Prestige Records was a jazz record company and label. It was founded by Bob Weinstock in New York City. The company recorded hundreds of albums by many of the leading jazz musicians of the day.

See Jazz live

Jazz can be an acquired taste, but once you get into it, it can be hard to get enough. There’s nothing like seeing a live jazz performance to really get a feel for the music. But where do you start?

The Village Vanguard

The Village Vanguard is a jazz club located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City. The club was opened on February 22, 1935, by Max Gordon. Originally a dance club, the Vanguard began to present live music during World War II and became notable for presenting many different styles of jazz musicians.

In 1957, John Coltrane recorded his live album “Live at the Village Vanguard” with his group The Miles Davis Quintet. Since then, many other notable jazz musicians have performed at the Vanguard, including Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, Wes Montgomery, and McCoy Tyner. The club continues to present live music every night of the week and is one of the most renowned jazz clubs in the world.

The Blue Note

The Blue Note is a legendary jazz club in New York City. It was founded in 1981 by Bruce Lundvall and has been influential in the careers of many jazz musicians. The club has been home to such artists as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Wynton Marsalis. The Blue Note has two locations, one in Greenwich Village and one in Harlem. If you’re looking to experience some of the best live jazz in New York City, the Blue Note is the place to go.

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola is a renowned jazz club located in New York City. It has been open since 1949 and has been home to some of the biggest names in jazz history, including Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Wynton Marsalis. The club is open every night and features live music from both established and up-and-coming artists. There is also a restaurant on site, so you can enjoy a meal while you listen to the music. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.

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