Jazz combos are typically formed under the direction of a single band leader, who is featured as a lead soloist and chooses his or her accompaniment based on the specific sound they intended to create. Thus, most jazz musicians were and are involved in numerous outfits, playing both as band leaders and side-men. Very few band leaders keep the same band for a long period of time, and the constant rotation of jazz talent is one of the most exciting aspects of learning and appreciating the beauty of this genre. Thus by discovering a certain combo you enjoy, you have actually found a number of musicians whose repertoires you can then pursue. There is no better way to learn about jazz then to just start listening, find certain musicians you like, and begin your own discovery.
Jazz originated in the melting pot of New Orleans before the turn of the century. The sound was rooted in blues
|Big Band Leaders|
In the 1920s, jazz was inherently dance music known as Swing
Other influential orchestral and big band leaders from this time include: Stan Getz
Swing continued to dominate the jazz scene until a major revolutionary period in the 1940s saw the emergence of Bebop, or Bop. In an attempt to defy popular trends and divorce themselves from those they felt had no deep appreciation for Jazz, a number of innovators abandoned melody and began using chords as the basis for their improvisation, encouraging soloists to be as abrasive and free as possible, so long as they remained within the established chord progression of the composition. Bop featured a smaller, tighter band, usually only six or seven members. Despite it's revolutionary emergence, Bop established itself as the foundation of post-war Jazz. One hugely innovative combo included Dizzy Gillespie
Other noteworthy musicians that emerged from this era were pianists Thelonious Monk
Other noteworthy musicians from the Bop and early Post-Bop era include:
There is no better musician's repertoire to follow to learn about the progression of post-war Jazz than Miles Davis
Therefore, examining the career of Miles Davis yields some great results: it gives an understanding of jazz's musical progression from 1949 to the 1980s, which Miles essentially pioneered, and it will allow you to discover countless top-notch musicians.
Here are just some of the jazz greats that emerged out of Miles' band (and some of their greatest albums as band leaders):
|Selected Miles Davis Discography|
The era of Jazz-Rock Fusion began in the late sixties as Herbie Hancock
Wynton Marsalis emerged as a defining force in 1979 by reinventing bop and setting the stage for a widely experimental future. Jazz artists, instead of attempting to continue the somewhat logical progression of jazz up until that point, began expanding by revisiting old artists and combining one or more styles into a wholly different type of music. Thus, jazz became an umbrella genre, covering vastly different flavours of music that otherwise apply to no specific genre.
The following is of course an extremely abridged list of some modern jazz greats.