J is for Jazz

I decided that I don’t REALLY want to explain what jazz is, mostly because it’s too difficult. You can read all about it on the page dedicated to Ken Burns’ Jazz, the third in his trilogy of documentary miniseries about Americana, along with the Civil War and baseball. The Wikipedia reads: “Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in black communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions… As the music has developed and spread around the world it has drawn on many different national, regional and local musical cultures giving rise, since its early 20th century American beginnings, to many distinctive styles.”

This level of cultural integration is evident as musicians of different races often played together at a period in the United States where integration was NOT the watchword. Speaking of which, read what the New York Times columnist Frank Rich was moved to write a few days after Ella Fitzgerald’s death. He stated that in the Songbook series, she “performed a cultural transaction as extraordinary as Elvis’s contemporaneous integration of white and African-American soul.

“Here was a black woman popularizing urban songs often written by immigrant Jews to a national audience of predominantly white Christians. As Ira Gershwin said, in the line quoted in every obituary: ‘I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them.'”

Here are links to some great songs in various jazz traditions:

St. Louis Blues – W.C. Handy and Orchestra

Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman

Mood Indigo – Duke Ellington

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, a Gershwin tune

Salt Peanuts – Dizzy Gillespie

April in Paris – Count Basie (cuts off last 10 seconds)

Take Five – The Dave Brubeck Quartet, one of the few jazz songs to make it onto the pop charts in the rock era

My favorite album, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis (read)
So What 9:22
Freddie Freeloader 9:46
Blue in Green (Miles Davis and Bill Evans) 5:37
All Blues 11:33
Flamenco Sketches (Miles Davis and Bill Evans) 9:26

Finally, Jazz Corner Of The World/Birdland – Quincy Jones (1989) featured the last studio recordings of jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

Oh, one of a number of lists of the 100 great jazz songs of all time.

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

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28 thoughts on “J is for Jazz

  1. If you like the flavor of JAZZ, you would love our little church LOCC (Light on the Corner) in Montrose CA. Our praise band is JAZZ, and it amazing hearing old hymns and contemporary worship songs in Jazz. In fact we have 4 concerts a year at the church for the community.

  2. Jazz is a great J. I don’t know how to define Jazz. Written definitions don’t really strike me as quite all there is but I know that I love it, except maybe Dixieland, I don’t love it quite so much.

  3. Jazz is one of those genres that never occur to me when someone says, “what kind of music do you like?”, but I can never turn it on and not enjoy it. And, man, Ms. Fitzgerald had an amazing voice.

    Very nice J.

  4. Ella must have one of the greatest voices of all time. I’ve just been to see our National Youth Jazz Orchestra, what a talented group of youngsters.

  5. Hi Roger
    Thanks for your comment on my post.
    My laptop computer just reduced the type size here to 6-point or smaller (looks more like 4-point, really) so I don’t know how much more commenting I’ll be able to do until I manage to fix it.
    But I did want to say I love your choice for J, although it certainly didnt surprise me. I was raised on jazz, and just today on our drive from Edmonton to Fort McMurray, Dick and I were talking about several different jazz musicians.
    Great music, and you’re right, it is played by musicians of all nationalities now.
    K

  6. Roger, another subject caught my attention for J… and I just posted a long jazz poem, so you did the honors. Thanks for your continued great work on ABC Weds.

    Now, my confession: I don’t like Ella Fitzgerald’s singing, except for her amazing “scatology.” Being in the profession, I heard too many note-for-note Ella clones, and I found her phrasing to be mannered and… boring. I know, I know, I’ll burn in hell for saying this. It’s like spitting on the Lincoln Memorial…

    You really know your stuff. Miles – only time he lost me was “Bitch’s Brew” period.

    And now, my favorite jazz singer? Billie Holiday, early years, before the Beast set in on her… Also Fats Waller, Ivy Anderson, and Diana Krall.

    Peace, Amy http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/09/20/justice-for-women-in-oppressed-regimes/

    • Amy – must admit that I loved it when Ella would muff the lyrics, which would often lead to the scat. But I do have on vinyl and CD a bunch of her stuff. Seems though that you’re faulting her for being so copyable. It’s like hating a groundbreaking movie or TV show from the 1970s because films in this century beat the technique to death.
      I still have my vinyl and I inherited Bitches Bew. Haven’t listened to it for a long time. Know who I didn’t like? Later Coltrane, from the 1970s, which I found unlistenable.
      Billie I like, but her voice did get shot from The Beast, as you put it.
      Fats Walleer I like.
      My wife has a LOT of Diana Krall. She’s good, but not always that original. Seen her open for Tony Bennett a few years back at Tanglewood.

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