Having originated in New Orleans in the Afro American community, at the beginning of the 20th century, Jazz music is now played all around the world. Joachim Berendt defines Jazz as "a form of art music which originated in the United States between the confrontation of African Americans and European music", Jazz he continues has a "spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role and the sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician".
Jazz music was a favourite past time of Berendt since the 1950's. Having grown up during the Second World War, this helped provide him with a disposition that only Jazz could reach, his father was a preacher who died during imprisonment in the Nazi Dachau concentration camp. After World War II Berendt helped develop the SWF radio network in French occupied zone of West Germany and was in charge of the Jazz department. His Jazz book became the definitive resource on the music for generations of enthusiast, sadly he died in a car accident at the age of 77 whilst en route to a discussion on his latest book.
Jazz developed in a number ways which included Kansas City Style, Swing, Bebop (referred to as a modern Jazz style that emerged from Swing, a genre which included legends such as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, noted also for its complex harmonies), Latin Jazz fusions such as Afro-Cuban and Brazilian Jazz, Free Jazz (1950's and 1960's, Jazz Fusion in 1970's, Acid Jazz in 1980s, Cool Jazz and Nujazz in the nineties, jazz has the ability to absorb the musical culture of the region and mutate into a unique form.
Improvisation is a key element of Jazz, which early Jazz pioneers bought over from their knowledge of blues music. This musical skill was an important aspect of early blues, a musical genre that was highly improvisational. Jazz allows the performer to interpret the music as they wish. A performers mood, personal experience, interaction with other musicians provides melodies and harmonies at their choosing. The improvisation element of Jazz can also be traced to the experiences of the early Jazz performers, many of who could not read music and learnt by listening and memorizing the music instead, this was common in the swing era big bands.
The Behop style shifted the focus on small individual groups and minimal arrangements, with a core performance of improvisations in the middle of the session. Modern styles such as modal jazz abandoned strict chord progression and allowed individual performers to improvise freely within the context of a given scale. The Free Jazz style was notable as some performances abandoned scales and rhythmic meters.
A musical researcher called Marshall Sterns traces the origins of Jazz to rhythms that existed before the blues, in fact an origin common branch to both Jazz and blues. He noted similar elements of inflections and music from rituals of West Africa, combined with harmonies of European music, this found its way into Gospel music, African American work songs and marching band music. The sense of spirit possession commonly found in voodoo dancing, often called vodon - was another similarity found in Jazz and blues music.
A large number of personalities lit up the Jazz world and encouraged us to put on our jazz shoes
, such as Count Basie, Albert Murray, Lewis Porter, Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong and Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Lennie Tristano, John Coltrane, Pharoah Saunders, Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, The popularity of Jazz performers was recently embodied by a 'Google Doodle' to commemorate the 93rd birthday of a famous Jazz trumpet player John Birks 'Dizzy' Gillespie on Thursday 21st October 2010. Dizzy is remembered as one of the greatest Jazz trumpet players of his generation, he was also an accomplished bandleader, singer and composer and helped to develop the Bebop and Afro-Cuban Jazz style. His sound was radically different, harmonically and rhythmically, sadly in 1448 he was involved in a bicycle accident that left him no longer able to hit the B-flat above high C.