Jazz History


Jazz styles

1840 - 2010

Pre-Jazz influences

Brass band

1809 - 1900

most prominent in New Orleans, but flourished elsewhere.
ensemble 10-12 musicians: trumpets, cornets, alto and baritone horns, tuba, clarinet, drums
repertoire: rags, marches, dances (parade music )
famous figure: Bunk Johnson (1879-1949)


1840 - 1865
  • Black minstrelsy and black face minstrelsy (white face performers mimicking black perforemers)
  • Four musicians: banjo, fiddle, tambourine and bomes
  • Famous Figure: Daniel J. Emmett (1815-1904), Stephen Foster (1826-1864)
  • Entertainment mimicking the exciting and addictive rhythmic sounds of the black work songs and spirituals.


1890 - 1920
  • Originated in African American music in the late 19th century
  • Solo piano (also some ragtime ensembles)
  • Sophisticated musically (harmonic sophistication)
  • Music wholly composed (no improvisation)
  • 2/4 or 4/4 time
  • Left hand: strong beats 1 and 3 (bass notes) and weak beats 2 and 4 (chords)
  • Right hand: syncopated melody
  • Scott Joplin (1869-1917)

Scott Joplin
- Tom Turpin
Tom Turpin

New Orleans Style

1900 - 1920

Generally 6-10 Musicians per ensemble

Melody Section:

Cornet/Trumpet (melody) vs. Clarinet (countermelody) vs. Trombone ("harmonic countermelody")

Rhythm Section:

Banjo, Tuba and Drums

Rhythm consists of 4 beats per bar.

Forms are:

Ensemble chorus and improvisation.

Famous Figures:

Louis Armstrong, King Oliver

trad. jazz example

trad. jazz example

Louis Armstrong born

August 4, 1901

Chicago Style

1920 - 1930

Tenor saxophone added to ensemble
Guitar replaces the banjo
Rhythm in 2/4 rather than 4/4
Solo improvisation instead of emphasis to ensemble
Piano and string bass gradually added to ensemble
Dixieland is closer to Chicago style than to the New Orleans style
Famous figure: Louis Armstrong
Chicago style example

Pre-Swing and Big Band Swing

Classic City Blues

1920 - 1935

Came around about the time that the African-Americans migrated to northern America in hope for a better life, but with little success. Mamie Smith was the first African-American to be recorded and became a big hit. She started being accompanied by black jazz bands. More singers started to sing with jazz bands accompanying them, for example Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. One musical elements in city blues include call and response.

Big Band Swing

1925 - 1945

Ensemble consists of c.14-16 musicians grouped in sections: trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and rhythm.

Chordal style

Controlled and organised solo 'improvisation'.

Each benad had a 'trademark' style, depending on the band leader.

Famous figures: Fletcher Henderson (1898-1952), Duke Ellington (1899-1974), Bennie Goodman.

Be Bop, Cool Jazz, Fusion, Eclectic and later


1945 - 1955

Small ensemble, quartet or quintet, etc. Saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass, drums. For listening, not dancing. Fast and complex rhythms, heavy syncopation. Dissonance. First chorus played in unison, then improvisation, then return to first chorus at end. Charlie Parker.


1950 - 1960

Revolt against bop, more relaxed and understated. Three main characteristics: unique sonority, delicate attacks, little or no vibrato, played in the middle range of the instrument. Phrasing: not regular length, not limited to 12 or 16 bars. Overlapping phrases, one player begins a solo before the other is finished. Orchestral concept: ensemble of 3 to 8 players, using instruments new to jazz, French horn, flute, cello, vibraphone etc. Unusual metres common, (3/4, 5/4, 9/4, 19/4). classical form sometimes used. Rondo, fugue,etc. Famous, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck.

A Pivotal Year of Great Albums


Miles Davis: "Kind of Blue"

John Coltrane's: "Giant Steps"

Ornette Coleman's: "Shape of Jazz to Come"

Dave Bruebeck: "Time out"

Free Jazz

1960 - 1970

A lack of adherence to established rules of melody, harmony, rhythm, form etc. The ultimate in improvisation, the musician preforms, the remaining ensemble reacts to what is played. famous figures, John Coltrane,corn(y), Ornette Coleman.


1970 - 1990

Fusion is a mixture of funk and R&B with complex time signatures. Derived from non-western music. Improvisation


1970 - 2000

Continued big band, (Maynard Ferguson). Latin and Hispanic influences (Afro-Cuban, salsa). Rock influences, (Miles Davis, Chicago).

Weather Report - Birdland

1977 - 1978

an important fusion piece by the band called weather report