“All that Jazz” – Past and Present – M2Q1


From the genres studied in module 2, I’d have to say that jazz has resonated with me most this week (and resonates with me most every week). I find a great deal of interest and excitement to learn/hear/play jazz in that despite how “all over the place” it may seem at first, there is a science to jazz’s “madness” that makes sense of its sound through all the specific chord progressions, syncopation, and improvisations to create a distinct and unique genre of music with an infectious rhythm that leaves you happily seeking more. I will start with an older example of jazz, then continue on with a few more modern examples to finish.

“At the Jazz Band Ball” was recorded in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Band and carries familiar aspects as found in “Dippermouth Blues” from this week’s coursework. Specific qualities of early jazz to listen for in this song are its fast tempo, abundant syncopation, and collective improvisation of the front line trumpet, trombone, and clarinet with the rhythm section of drums and banjo keeping the steady beat. Instances of clarinet bends, trombone slides, and the influence of the 12 bar blues progression can also be heard.

“Bodhisattva” was recorded by the band Steely Dan in 1973. It takes a more modern approach to jazz while still maintaining several aspects of the genre. This modern form of jazz has a closer relationship to this week’s coursework of “Hotter Than That” than it does with the older sound of “Dippermouth Blues.” Steely Dan’s track uses the instrumentation of electric guitar/bass and some synthesizer in addition to the standard drums and piano (without the traditional trombone, trumpet, and clarinet). Despite the differences from what would considered to be traditional of this genre, roots of jazz can be heard from this tune in its swing rhythm, syncopation, chord progressions, harmony, expressiveness, and its solo-orientated, improvisational playing with the occasional segments of band members “playing-off of” each other during these solos.

While roots of jazz can be found in contemporary music like rock, R&B, and hip hop, it should also be said that jazz as a standalone genre still exists and holds popularity today (unlike that of minstrel, or parlor songs). The above video is a recording of Roy Hargrove’s Quintet playing their piece “Strasbourg / Saint Denis” that was composed in 2008. The swing rhythms, syncopation, harmony, chord progressions, solo-segments, and overall expressiveness that defines jazz are still present and relatively unchanged from their initial inception nearly a century ago.

Balajadia, Eric(Uploader). “Steely Dan Bodhisattva 1973”. YouTube video, 5:19. Posted [Nov 24, 2011]. https://youtu.be/uAEphHf0P-c. (accessed September 16, 2016).

Incognitotraveler(Uploader). “Roy Hargrove Quintet – Strasbourg  Saint Denis”. YouTube video, 12:18. Posted [Oct 1, 2010]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxeb0cwjE8U. (accessed September 16, 2016).

JoolyOTR(Uploader). “Original Dixieland Band: – “At The Jazz Band Ball””. YouTube video, 2:49. Posted [Apr 28, 2010]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbmYb0jogbo. (accessed September 16, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “At the Jazz Band Ball,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=At_the_Jazz_Band_Ball&oldid=734949526 (accessed September 16, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Countdown to Ecstasy,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Countdown_to_Ecstasy&oldid=738096893 (accessed September 16, 2016).

Wikipedia contributors, “Roy Hargrove,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Roy_Hargrove&oldid=732018569 (accessed September 16, 2016).