In short, Jazz is an original American musical art form originating around the start of the 20th century in New Orleans, rooted in Western music technique and theory, and is marked by the profound cultural contributions of African Americans. It is characterized by blue notes, syncopation, swing, call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation. Jazz has been described as "America's Classical Music", and started in saloons throughout the nation. In long,  the word ''jazz'' itself is rooted in American slang, probably of sexual origin, although various alternative derivations have been suggested. According to University of Southern California film professor Todd Boyd, the term was originally slang for sexual intercourse as its earliest musicians found employment in New Orleans brothel parlors, with the word deriving from the term 'jass'. The term "jass" was rude sexual slang, related either to the term "jism" or to the jasmine perfume popular among urban prostitutes. Lacking an attentive audience, the musicians began to play for each other and their performances achieved aesthetic complexity not evident in ragtime. The musicians would typically play songs of the time, including gospel, and "jass it up" by playing around notes, changing timings, and generally change the overall feel of the song. Jazz has roots in the combination of Western and African music traditions, including spirituals, blues and ragtime, stemming ultimately from West Africa, western Sahel, and New England's religious hymns and hillbilly music, as well as in European military band music. After originating in African American communities near the beginning of the 20th century, jazz gained international popularity by the 1920s. Since then, jazz has had a pervasive influence on other musical styles worldwide including rock, pop and latin music. Learn further information on Jazz Music at

Noted Jazz Composers

* Louis Armstrong * Duke Ellington * Wynton Marsalis * Charlie Parker * John Coltrane * Fats Navarro

Genres within Jazz Music

* Acid Jazz/Groove Jazz: initially a UK-based form of jazz music, containing elements of disco music. ** UK Artists *** the Brand New Heavies *** James Taylor Quartet *** Young Disciples *** Jamiroquai *** Corduroy ** US Artists *** Groove Collective *** Soulive *** Solsonics * Acid Swing (Jazz): combines 1940s style biginfluenced drums and electric guitar. ** Brian Setzer Orchestra (BSO) * Bebop: avantera jazz. ** Dizzy Gillespie ** Thelonious Monk ** Bud Powell ** Max Roach * Smooth Jazz: a blend of pop/rock rhythms and jazz improvization that is often likened to instrumental rock and/or easy-listening. ** Curiosity Killed the Cat ** Pigbag ** the Rippingtons ** Sade Adu * Jazz Big Band/Jazz Orchestra: a large musical ensemble comprised ten or more musicians, usually featuring at least three trumpets, two or more trombones, four or more saxophones, and a "rhythm section" of accompanists playing some combination of piano, guitar, bass, and drums. ** Duke Ellington Orchestra ** Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra ** the Count Basie Orchestra ** the Glenn Miller Orchestra ** the Benny Goodman Orchestra * Jazzpolitical or Afrocentric lyrics. ** A Tribe Called Quest ** De la Soul * "European" or "Nordic" Jazz: chamber-music aesthetic, featuring mainly acoustic instruments, and incorporating elements of world music and folk music. ** Terje Rypdal * Nu Jazz (a.k.a electrohouse or phusion): combines elements of jazz and modern forms of electronic dance music. ** Future Jazz *** Bugge Wesseltoft *** Nils Petter Molvær *** Wibutee *** The Cinematic Orchestra *** Jaga Jazzist *** Julien Lourau ** Jazz-House *** Jazzanova *** Fila Brazillia *** St Germain ** Contemporary Nu Jazz *** Norah Jones *** Jill Scott *** Jamie Cullum *** Erykah Badu *** Amy Winehouse *** Diana Krall

Essential Albums

* * John Coltrane ** Giant Steps ** A Love Supreme * Miles Davis ** Kind of Blue ** In a Silent Way ** Bitches Brew * Sun Ra ** Atlantis * Charles Mingus ** Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus ** Black Saint and the Sinner Lady * ** with Freddie Hubbard. How bad could it be?

International Resources

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