The Different Kinds of Jazz Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


You might be surprised to know that there are different types of jazz music. In this blog post, we explore the different kinds of jazz and what makes each one unique.


Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. 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 jazz spread around the world, it drew on different national, regional, and local musical cultures, which gave rise to many distinctive styles. New Orleans jazz began in the early 1910s, combining earlier brass band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation. In the 1930s dirge-like low-down blues became more prominent features of New Orleans jazz (termed “funeral” or “barrelhouse” jazz); Louis Armstrong began playing solo guitar; Dave Brubeck’s father taught his sons Latin rhythms which they incorporated into their piano playing; XL’s Candyman recorded some songs with a Latin tinge; Johnny Dodds played on some tunes with Afro-Cuban percussionists such asCongolese conga drummer Miguel Matamoros; other recordings included kid Ory’s “Muskrat Ramble”. In the mid-’30s Armstrongjoined Boyd Senter’s Clambake Seven (which also included clarinetist Barney Bigard) which toured clubs and festivals throughout northern California clubs performing an eclectic mix of pop standards , Dixieland classics—and even some classical music arrangements by Senter—that featured unusual instrumentation: two saxophones instead of the customary one (altoist Ed Doyle), clarinet/tenor saxophone/baritone saxophone (Bigard), trombone (Kid Ory) , trumpet , banjo , tuba , drums .

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. Although jazz is considered highly difficult to define, in part because it contains so many varied subgenres, improvisation is one of its defining elements. The centrality of improvisation is attributed to the influence of earlier forms of music such as blues, a form of folk music which arose out of the work songs and field hollers of African-American slaves on plantations. These work songs were commonly structured around a repetitive call-and-response pattern, but early blues was also highly improvisational. Classical music performance is evaluated more by its fidelity to the musical score, with less attention given to interpretation, ornamentation or variation. The classical performer’s goal is to play the composition as it was written. In contrast, jazz is often characterized by the product of interaction and collaboration, putting less value on the contribution of composition than on performance.

The Different Kinds of Jazz Music

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is characterized by blue notes, call-and-response vocals, polyrhythms, and improvization. Jazz has been influenced by European music, and has also spawned a number of sub-genres. The different kinds of jazz include: New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop, hard bop, cool jazz, and fusion.

Dixieland Jazz

Dixieland jazz is a style of jazz music that developed in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the early 1900s. It is characterized by a front line of trumpet, trombone, and clarinet, with a rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums.

The term “Dixieland” was originally used to refer to the style of music played by early jazz bands from New Orleans. These bands were made up of African American musicians who were not able to play in the city’s mainstream clubs and bars because of segregation laws. Instead, they performed in parks and on the streets for tips.

The style of music these bands played was a mix of African American spirituals, blues, and ragtime melodies. The improvised solos that are characteristic of jazz were also an important part of Dixieland jazz.

Dixieland jazz became popular in the Northern United States in the 1920s when it was heard on phonograph records and radio broadcasts. The first Dixieland Jazz Band to achieve commercial success was The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, which was formed in 1916 and made its first recordings in 1917.

The popularity of Dixieland jazz began to decline in the 1930s as other styles of jazz , such as swing and bebop , became more popular. But interest in the style was revived in the 1950s when traditional jazz bands began appearing at festivals and clubs. Today, there is a global community of Dixieland jazz musicians who continue to perform and record this unique form of music.

Swing Jazz

Swing Jazz is one of the most popular and important genres of jazz music. It developed in the early 1930s and was characterized by a strong rhythm section, improvisation, and a focus on fun and dancing. Some of the most famous swing jazz musicians include Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie.

Bebop Jazz

Bebop jazz is a style of jazz characterized by a fast tempo, advanced harmonic structure, and intense improvisation. Bebop was developed in the early 1940s by a small group of innovators, including the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and the saxophonist Charlie Parker. It quickly became the most significant development in jazz since the invention of swing music in the 1920s.

Bebop is distinguished from earlier types of jazz by its use of complex harmonic structures, often derived from chord progressions used in classical music. Bebop jazz also makes use of “unison improvisation”, whereby multiple musicians play the same melodic line at the same time. This approach was first used in bebop by Gillespie and Parker, and subsequently became a standard feature of the style.

Bebop jazz is often associated with a rebellious attitude and an eschewal of commercial appeal. Bebop musicians often sought to distance themselves from the mainstream music industry, and their music was sometimes seen as an expression of African-American identity and culture. However, many bebop musicians achieved commercial success, including Gillespie, Parker, and Thelonious Monk.

Hard Bop Jazz


Hard Bop Jazz is a type of jazz that developed in the mid-1950s, that combines elements of bebop, blues, and rhythm and blues. The name “hard bop” was coined by jazz critic Nat Hentoff in reference to the hard-swinging, blue-note based music of Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and Clifford Brown. Hard bop is sometimes referred to as ” smoker’s music” because of its slow tempos and dreamy atmosphere.

Modal jazz is a style of jazz that developed in the late 1950s and 1960s and is characterized by long, extended note scalar improvisations. The use of modal scales (or modes) permit musicians to play “outside” the tonal system while still remaining within the key center. This provides a greater sense of freedom and flexibility when improvising, as opposed to the more confined harmonic structure of tonal jazz. Modal jazz is often associated with Miles Davis’ 1958 album Kind of Blue, which is considered one of the most influential jazz albums of all time.

Free Jazz

In the 1960s, a new style of jazz emerged that was unlike anything that had come before it. This style came to be known as free jazz, and it was marked by a complete freedom of expression. Musicians in this genre felt constrained by the traditional rules of harmony and melody, so they began to experiment with new ways of playing and improvising.

Free jazz can be difficult to define, because it can sound so different from one artist to the next. But there are some common elements that are often found in this style of music, such as extended improvisation, a focus on group interaction, and an emphasis on sonic texture over traditional melodies.

If you’re curious about free jazz, then check out some of the most important recordings in this genre. These albums will give you a good idea of what this music is all about, and they’ll also introduce you to some of the most important free jazz artists out there.


Jazz is a complex and diverse music genre that has been around for over 100 years. There are many different types of jazz, from early New Orleans jazz to more modern styles like bebop and free jazz. The type of jazz you like will depend on your personal taste, but there is sure to be a type of jazz that you will enjoy.

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