A Brief history of Jazz.
In order to
properly talk about fusion, I feel is it necessary to give a brief introduction
and history of the genre as a whole.
its history Jazz has influenced and has been influenced by traditional,
classical and popular music. The genre has expanded so much that different
styles may sound completely different to each other, and the boundaries of the different styles
not always being very clear.
Around the turn of the 20th century, New Orleans, a major port city was a meeting point for people of many different
cultures and as a result, local musicians were exposed to very wide variety of
music from around the world, This coupled the good Nightlife of the city gave
musicians opportunities to learn from each other and play together and form a
blend of all of these different styles of music.
its roots In traditional African and European music, Spirituals, blues and work
songs, Jazz also borrows from 19th century band music and the
ragtime style of piano playing. It also took aspects of European Hymn and brass
African Music Jazz takes its “blues” quality, its rhythm and feel, Whereas
European marching band music was responsible for Harmony, which is similar to
Classical Music Harmony. Most of the instruments in a Jazz “Line up” also originated from Europe.
said I think it could be said that Jazz in itself is a form of Musical Fusion,
Fusing Elements of Traditional African and European music into a completely new
after the African American slaves were freed they mostly moved to new Orleans and
when the American civil war ended and southern Armies disbanded, Large amounts
of military wind instruments became cheaply available and were purchased by
people living in the Ghetto’s, They thought themselves to play these
instruments and marching music in their own unconventional manners, creating
new sounds out of the old music, and giving the music this new Rhythmic “Swing”.
bands typically had a line up with a front line of Trombone, Cornet (or Trumpet)and clarinet,
which would engage in polyphony with varying amounts of improvisation .
section would typically feature banjo, Tuba playing basic harmonies and drums
which are played in a syncopated manner for dancing to.
It was not
until the 1920’s that the piano was added, and the much more agile string bass
replaced the tuba. It was also around this time that the acoustic guitar took
over in popularity from the less Subtle Banjo, The Saxophone also began to
slowly be introduced, although played with vibrato, which was never intended
when the Sax was originally created for marching bands. This could link back to
Jazz roots in African music, where it was traditional to play an instrument In
ones own expressive way, almost as an extension of the musicians own voice.
Jazz went on through the Swing Era of the 1930’s and Bebop was born in the 1940’s,as
WWII meant big bands were starting to disappear as musicians were being sent
overseas to fight, this period seen a large increase in the amount of quartet
and quintet groups consisting of one or two horns, bass drums and piano this
naturally shifted the focus of the music to a more interactive and
improvisational based style of playing.
the first form of modern Jazz Bebop split Jazz in the middle being unacceptable
to many people, including many musicians.
and sax would begin in a typical track by playing in unison at a fast tempo,
new melodies were played stop the chord structures of traditional jazz songs.
In 44 the
first acknowledged be-bop recording Featured Coleman Hawkins and Dizzie
Gillespie , in 45 Gillespie led a group with Charlie Parker , Al Haig, Curley
Russell and Sid Catlett who recorded some of the most highly influential bebop
tracks Including SaltPeanuts and HotHouse.
forms of jazz Miles is credited for being on the frontline of the fusion
Born May 26
1926 in Alton, Illinois, he was given a trumpet by his father at the age of 13,
whch he quickly developed a talent for , thought by his fathers friend, Elwood
Buchanan,who directed a music school. Miles joined his high school band and was
playing professionally by the age of 17, when he was invited onstage by Dizzie
Gillespie and Charlie Parker when they realised they needed to quickly replace
a sick band mate.
In 1944 he
moved to American to join the Juiliard School of music but would drop out a
year later to become a full time Jazz musician, He was a member of the Charlier
Parker quintet and in 1946 released his first recording as part of the Miles Davis
In 1949 the
Miles Davis Nonet was formed in Gil Evans apartment which had become a
musicians hangout. This unusual lineup, augmenting the traditional bop quintet
with the baritone sax, trombone, French horn and tuba. Davis wanted to rid his
music of Bebop Style and restore some of Jazz’s more melodic elements.
The lack of
a saxophone was unusual for a Jazz group at the time.
released a series of singles which were released as 77rpm singles and later in
1957 it was released as an album known as “Birth of the Cool” which was met with
critical reception right after they were released, The album is Credited with
starting the “Cool Jazz” Movement.
Early 50’s Davis became addicted to Heroin for 3 years but continued recording
during this time. He overcame this addiction in 54 and around this time he was
awarded a recording contract with Columbia records, and formed a permanent band
with John Coltrane, Paul Chambers and Red Garland.