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“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)”. Jazz in America: The Curious Student’s Guide. What Is Jazz?. “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” ~ An Early Jazzman. Jazz swings! Jazz improvises!. Jazz Is…. One of America’s greatest contributions to the arts.

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It don t mean a thing if it ain t got that swing l.jpg

“It Don’t Mean a Thing(If It Ain’t Got that Swing)”

Jazz in America:

The Curious Student’s Guide


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What Is Jazz?

“If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” ~ An Early Jazzman



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Jazz Is…

  • One of America’s greatest contributions to the arts.

  • A handy window into American history.



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Jazz Is…

  • …Grounded in swinging 4/4 time with the blues as a touchstone.

  • …A musical reflection of defiance or at least of antagonistic cooperation.

  • …A music formed by the marriage of black and white musical traditions in the United States.


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Jazz is popular music!

Jazz is changing music!


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Jazz Is…

  • “An art form that is constantly inspiring and renewing.” ~ Patricia Barber



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Improvisation

  • Instead of being played strictly from written notes, much of jazz is improvised, or made up as the musicians go along.


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Syncopation

  • In syncopated music, rhythms are created in which the emphasis shifts from the strong beat to the weak beat, or so that the different rhythms play with each other.


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Blue Note

  • A bent or slurred note. Playing blue notes will create unique harmonies and often will convey a deeply emotional feel.


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Complex Rhythm

  • Rhythm is made not only by a drum, but by the accents played by different members of a jazz ensemble.


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The Drums of Congo Square

  • “The rhythms that the drummers beat out in the dusty sunlight made the people standing around want to move their heads in time, tap their feet, and dance, too. That is one of the things about jazz: it always makes people want to move. Jazz music is music to move to, to dance to—not just to listen to.” ~ Langston Hughes



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Varieties of Jazz phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Swing phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • A style of jazz in the 1930s characterized by a steady, lively, and fluid rhythm.


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Big Band phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • A style of jazz of the 1930s and 1940s played by large orchestras, which relied on written music.


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Bebop phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • A style of jazz pioneered in the 1940s and 1950s marked by rhythmic accents and a jagged beat.


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Cool Jazz phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • A lyrical type of jazz that became popular in the late 1940s and 1950s; also called West Coast jazz.


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Free Jazz phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • A style of jazz of the early 1960s marked by a sense of mysticism and a return to African roots.


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Fusion phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • A musical style of the late 1960s and early 1970s that blends elements of jazz with rock music.


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Soul Jazz phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • A gospel-influenced style of jazz; also called funk.


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Legends of Jazz Music phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

Two Pioneers


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Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • Armstrong’s influence was, and remains, so seminal that any study of Jazz must inevitably return to the work of this master trumpet player and vocalist.

  • He mesmerized New York with his trumpet playing, singing, and scatting, the vocal technique he invented that used nonsense syllables to imitate instruments.


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Louis Armstrong phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • Ellington expanded the scope of jazz numbers, paving the way for his trademark “symphonic jazz” as well as proving himself a sensitive and imaginative pianist.


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Duke Ellington phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Legends of Jazz Music phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

Instrumentalists


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Count Basie phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Benny Goodman phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Dizzy Gillespie phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Charlie Parker phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Thelonious Monk phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Legends of Jazz Music phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

Vocalists


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Ella Fitzgerald phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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Billie Holiday phonograph records brought it into almost every home.


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The Language of Jazz phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • Ballad

    • A slow song or musical composition.

  • Blues

    • A type of music in which rhythmic phrases are repeated; also characterized by songs about hard times and bad luck.

  • Call-and-Response

    • An African song type in which a lead singer calls out and the group answers with a repeated phrase.


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  • Improvisation phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

    • When musicians invent things as they go along.

  • Ragtime

    • A type of piano music marked by a “jumping,” syncopated rhythm.

  • Riggs

    • Single rhythmic phrases repeated over and over, used in blues and jazz.


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  • Syncopation phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

    • When the accent of a rhythm shifts from the strong beat to the weak beat; used in ragtime.


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Resources for Curious Students phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • Books

    • The History of Jazz, Ted Gioia

    • Jazz: A History of America’s Music, Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns

    • Visions of Jazz, Gary Giddins

  • The Library of Congress

    • William Gottlieb’s Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz (All the images in this slide show are from this collection.)


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  • Websites phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

    • All About Jazz

    • All Music Guide

    • Downbeat

    • JazzEd

    • Jazz Online

    • Jazz Times


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Bibliography phonograph records brought it into almost every home.

  • Carlin, Richard. Jazz. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1991.

  • Hayes, Malcolm. 20th-Century Music: 20s & 30s—Between the Wars. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 2002.

  • Lee, Jeanne. Jam! The Story of Jazz Music. New York, NY: Rosen, 1999.

  • Schoenberg, Loren. The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz. New York, NY: Perigee, 2002.


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