What are the Various Jazz Styles?
Various styles of playing evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries as musicians started to improvise. This was because early musicians did not have formal training in Western classical music and those that did began to introduce European harmonies and forms into Jazz and made the pattern of music uneven.
Since, the most important element of jazz is improvisation (the ability to create new music spontaneously). Performers improvised by unexpectedly accenting at various places and dipping down where accents are stressed. This added just the right amount of excitement to make each show unique.
In early 20th century, a band from Austin High School, Chicago, developed a unique type of musical arrangement that soon came to be known as 'Chicago style' jazz.
Chicago musicians included trumpeters Jimmy McPartland and Muggsy Spanier; cornetist Bix Beiderbecke; clarinetists Frank Teschemacher, Pee Wee Russell, Benny Goodman; saxophonists Frankie Trumbauer and Bud Freeman; drummers Dave Tough, George Wettling, and Gene Krupa; and guitarist Eddie Condon.
In New York City, James P. Johnson popularised a new musical style from Ragtime called stride piano in which the left hand plays alternating single notes and chords that move up and down the scale while the right hand plays solo melodies or accompanying rhythms. Many jazz pianists were greatly influenced by Johnson including Count Bassie, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller among others.
Jazz was not only instrumental but had its vocalists too. Among the greatest jazz singers are Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nat 'King' Cole (also a superb pianist). However, the various styles evolved mainly due to various bands that introduced different music in different decades.
The big band era
Till the 1920s, Jazz music was performed by solo players until 1923 when Fletcher Henderson organized a jazz band and classified them according to instruments like brass, reed, and percussion. Henderson went on to organise many such bands in the next two decades that included jazz hall of famers like Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins.
Louis Armstrong was the first male jazz singer who became popular and he also introduced a kind of singing called 'scat' that consisted of wordless syllables sung in the manner of an instrument playing. Armstrong's recording between 1925 to 1928 rank among the masterpieces of jazz as does his duet performances with pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines.
What are the Various Jazz Styles? [5W&H for kids]
By B Sumangal; Illustration by Anup Singh
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