What Type of Music is Jazz?

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It developed from roots in blues and ragtime and features a complex structure of improvisation.


Music is an art form that is enjoyed by people all over the world. There are many different genres of music, and each one has its own unique history and style. Jazz is one of the most popular genres of music, and it has a rich history that has influenced many other genres of music.

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. As early as the 1920s, jazz was becoming popular among mainstream audiences.

The History of Jazz

The word “jazz” probably has its roots in the West African word “jasm”, meaning pep or energy. Jazz is a style of music that was created by African Americans in the early 20th century. It is a mix of African and European music traditions. The first jazz recordings were made in 1917.

Jazz is known for its swing rhythm, improvised solos, and blues and gospel influences. Jazz bands usually have a rhythm section (piano, bass, and drums), a brass section (trumpet, trombone, and saxophone), and a woodwind section (clarinet and flute).

Some famous jazz musicians include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Coltrane.

The Different Types of Jazz

There are many different types of jazz, from traditional jazz to modern jazz. Traditional jazz is influenced by blues and ragtime, while modern jazz is influenced by pop and rock. Jazz can be performed on a variety of instruments, but the most common are the piano, trumpet, and saxophone.

Dixieland Jazz

Dixieland Jazz is the earliest form of jazz, dating back to the start of the 20th century. It originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was highly influenced by African-American music. The typical instruments used in this style are trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and sometimes saxophones. The rhythm section usually consists of a piano, bass, and drums.

Dixieland jazz is known for its happy, upbeat sound as well as its lively rhythms. Many of the tunes are based on popular songs of the day, and the solos are often improvised. This style of jazz was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in New Orleans’ French Quarter. It fell out of favor after World War II but has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years.

Swing Jazz

Swing Jazz is a type of Jazz that started in the 1920s and was extremely popular in the 1930s. It was created by African American musicians and was based on the African American music traditions of that time. The most popular Swing Jazz musicians were Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman.

Bebop Jazz

Bebop jazz was born in the early 1940s. This type of jazz was a reaction against the popular big band music of the time. Bebop jazz is characterized by fast tempo, complex chord progressions, and rhythm that was syncopated (meaning that the accents fell between beats rather than on them). Soloing was also very important in bebop jazz. Bebop jazz was not always easy to dance to, which made it less popular with audiences than other types of jazz. But many musicians loved bebop for its complex harmonies and fast tempo. Some well-known bebop jazz musicians are Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Hard Bop Jazz

Hard bop is a subgenre of jazz that is an extension of bebop (or bop) music. Hard bop was developed in the mid-1950s, largely in response to the influence of cool jazz on bebop and to broaden the appeal of bebop beyond its initial base in the African-American community. Hard bop incorporated influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing.

Hard bop developed during the tenures of legendary bandleaders such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Art Blakey,Horace Silver, and Thelonious Monk. It reached its height of popularity in the mid- to late 1950s and 1960s. At that time hard bop bands were often working with Latin American musicians such as Machito, Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader, Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz Hard bop quickly spread throughout the world and influenced many subsequent jazz genres.

Free Jazz

Free Jazz is an approach to the music which developed in the late 1950s and 1960s, as musicians attempted to change or break down the conventions of Jazz. Free Jazz can be seen as a reaction against the constraints of Bebop or Hard Bop, as well as a departure from the formal structures common in many popular Jazz tunes; instead, it incorporates elements of chance and spontaneity, and often features very lengthy improvisations. As such, it is often described as avant-garde or experimental.

While there is no one single defining characteristic of Free Jazz, there are several features which are commonly found in this type of music. These include:
-Extended improvisation
-A focus on group interaction rather than individual solo performance
-A rejection of traditional chord progressions or melodies
-An emphasis on “outside” playing (i.e., playing that falls outside of conventional harmony)
-A use of “unconventional” sounds and techniques, such as noise, extended techniques, atonality and free rhythm.

Avant-Garde Jazz

Avant-garde jazz is a style of music that was popularized in the early to mid 20th century. It is characterized by its experimental and avant-garde approach to composition and improvisation. This style of jazz is not for everyone, as it can be very abrasive and chaotic. However, if you are a fan of this type of music, there are a few artists that you should check out.

Some of the most popular avant-garde jazz artists include:

-Ornette Coleman
-Sun Ra
-John Coltrane
-The Art Ensemble of Chicago


Jazz is a type of music that is characterized by a rich, improvisational style. It originated in the United States in the early 20th century, and has since spread around the world. Jazz has been influenced by many other genres of music, including blues, gospel, and even classical. While there is no one “right” way to define jazz, it is generally considered to be a genre of music that is enjoyed by both performers and listeners alike.

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