The Best of Old Music: Jazz

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The best of old music: Jazz. A collection of the best jazz tracks from the golden era of jazz. Featuring artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday.

What is Jazz?

Jazz is a music genre that was born in the late 19th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It is a genre of music that is characterized by blue notes, syncopation, swung notes, call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation. Jazz has been described as “the sound of America”, and it has influenced other genres of music such as rock and roll, pop, blues, and funk.

The Origins of Jazz

The origins of jazz are closely related to the origins of blues music. Jazz is a style of music that was developed in the early 20th century in the southern United States. The word “jazz” is derived from a West African word “jasm”, which means “to make lively.”

The earliest form of jazz was known as New Orleans jazz. It was developed in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The first recorded use of the word “jazz” was in a 1912 article in The New York Times.

New Orleans jazz was based on a mix of African and European musical traditions. The music was played with brass instruments, such as trumpets and trombones, and woodwind instruments, such as clarinets and saxophones. The rhythm section was often made up of piano, bass, and drums.

One of the most important figures in the development of jazz was Louis Armstrong. Armstrong was born in 1901 in New Orleans. He learned to play the trumpet at a young age and became one of the most famous jazz musicians of all time.

Other important early jazz musicians include Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sidney Bechet. Jazz spread from New Orleans to other parts of the United States, such as Chicago and New York City, in the 1920s. It also became popular in Europe in the 1930s.

The Elements of Jazz

There are four basic elements that constitute the musical genre of jazz. These are: Rhythm, Improvisation, Blues feel, and Swing. Combined, these four musical elements create the style of music now known as jazz.

Rhythm is the most important and defining element of jazz. It is what sets jazz apart from other genres of music and is what gives the music its unique feel. Rhythm in jazz is created by the interaction between the drums and other instruments in the band, such as the trumpet or piano. The drums provide a steady beat that the other instruments can follow, while also improvising around. This combination of a steady beat with improvisation is what gives jazz its characteristic swing.

Improvisation is another key element of jazz. Improvisation means making up melodies on the spot, rather than playing melodies that have been pre-written. Jazz musicians often improvise solos during their performances, which gives each performance a unique flavor. Many famous jazz standards were actually improvised solos that were later transcribed and published.

The blues feel is another important element of jazz. The blues is a type of music that originated in America’s Deep South among African Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The blues has a very specific sound, characterized by a sad or melancholic feeling. Jazz draws heavily from the blues tradition, incorporating many of its characteristic sounds and feelings into its own style.

Swing is the fourth and final element of jazz. Swing refers to a specific feeling or rhythm that is created by combining all of the other elements: steady rhythm, improvisation, and blues feeling. Swing is what gives jazz its characteristic “groove” and makes it such enjoyable music to listen to and dance to.

The History of Jazz

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. Its immediate origins are difficult to trace because of the lack of recorded materials from this time period. There was compelling evidence for a West African origin for brass band music which was cited in numerous 19th century sources on African music.

The earliest jazz bands were mostly small groups playing a style known as New Orleans jazz. The first use of the word “jazz” to describe this type of music was in a 1917 review by Variety magazine. The word gained popularity over the next few years, particularly in California and New York City. By the early 1920s, jazz was well established as a major form of popular music in America.

The Jazz Age

The Jazz Age was a time of great change and excitement in music. It was a time when new styles and genres were being created and developed, and when artists were exploring new ways of expression.

Jazz was at the forefront of this musical revolution, and its popularity exploded in the 1920s. The Jazz Age was a time when jazz bands were playing in clubs and dance halls all over the country, and when people were flocking to see them perform.

Jazz was the sound of the Roaring Twenties, and its influence can still be heard in today’s music. If you’re a fan of old music, or if you’re just curious about this important period in music history, then check out our list of the best Jazz Age songs.

The Swing Era

The Swing Era was the most popular period of jazz music, lasting from roughly 1935 to 1945. It was characterized by big band music and danceable rhythms, and it arose out of the earlier styles of New Orleans and Chicago jazz.

During the Swing Era, there were many famous jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller. The music of this era was often played in dancehalls and clubs, and it remains popular to this day. If you’re a fan of old music, then the Swing Era is definitely worth checking out!


Bebop is a style of jazz marked by fast tempos, complex chord progressions, and small groups. The name “bop” came from an early 1940s phrase meaning “top performers” or “hep cats”. It was originally used to describe the style of music these performers were playing.

Bebop evolved out of the earlier style known as swing. Swing music was very popular in the 1930s and 1940s, and bebop was a reaction against it. Swing was seen as too commercial and too easy to dance to. Bebop musicians wanted to create something that was more challenging, both harmonically and rhythmically.

Bebop was also influenced by other styles of music, including blues and Latin American rhythms. Bebop tunes are often based on well-known standards, but the harmony is usually much more complex than in the original version.

One of the most important bebop musicians was saxophonist Charlie Parker. He was a major innovator, and his approach to improvisation influenced many other jazz musicians.

Hard Bop

Often characterized by a driving, hard-hitting sound, Hard Bop was developed in the mid-1950s as a reaction to the cerebral and often complex style of bebop. Influenced by rhythm and blues, gospel, and even pop music, Hard Bop favored catchy melodies, strong grooves, and accessible harmonies. It quickly became one of the most popular styles of jazz, with artists like Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and Thelonious Monk becoming some of the most celebrated musicians of the genre.

Modal jazz is a type of jazz that began in the late 1950s and gained popularity in the 1960s. It uses modal scales instead of chord progressions, making it different from other types of jazz. Modal jazz is sometimes said to be “static” because the same modal scale is usually played for an extended period of time. This gives modal jazz a different sound from other types of jazz, which often have a lot of chord changes.

Jazz Fusion

Jazz fusion is a genre of music that combines elements of jazz with other genres, typically rock, funk, R&B, or world music. Jazz fusion emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as musicians began to experiment with electric instruments and amplifiers, as well as with new concepts in harmony and improvisation.

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