The Psychedelic Imagination Origins of Reggae, Ska and Dub The Funky Muse

An Overview of the History of Jazz (Major and Transcendent Figures Placed Historically)

Before 1900:
Slaves taken from West Africa to America between the 16th and the 19th centuries were attracted to Christianity, especially its stories of freedom and going to heaven, and these became symbols of their hopes. They used these ideas with their own music and spirituals were the result. While working in the fields the slaves would sing work songs and field hollers. After the Civil War was over (1865) and slaves were freed, many instruments were acquired by black musicians and as result of military bands being well known in America because of the Civil War, military marches had a big influence on popular music at the time. Ragtime was a style of piano music that was popular in bars and brothels in the late 19th century. Blues began as a type of vocal music of the black slaves. Early jazz is a combination of these musical styles, most of which are associated with African-Americans.
1900 - 1920:
Early Blues Singers (Robert Johnson)
Ragtime - a composed form of jazz (Scott Joplin)
Boogie Woogie - influential in jazz until about 1945 (Jimmy Yancey)
Dixieland - New Orleans (King Oliver)
1920 - 1927:
Jazz moved "up the river" to Chicago (Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke)
1927 - 1935:
Early swing bands (Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong)
1935 - 1945:
Big band jazz (Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Chick Webb, Earl
Hines, Jay McShann)
. Jazz enjoyed great popularity during this era.
Parisian swing (Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelly)
Lester Young Quartet
1941 - 1949:
Bebop (Charlie "Bird" Parker, John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach).
Most of the action took place in New York.
1949 - 1955:
Cool-school or West Coast jazz, where the centre of activities moved from New York to Los Angeles.
(Lee Konitz, Lennie Tristano, Miles Davis)
1954 - 1959:
Hard-bop regression, return to the hot or funky jazz. The action returned to New York.
(Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins)
1959 - 1969:
Modal music (Miles Davis, John Coltrane)
Avant-garde/ free jazz (Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor)
Third stream (Gunther Schuller)
Sheets of sound/polyrhythmic jazz, the Coltrane changes (John Coltrane, Elvin Jones)
Bossa Nova (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
1969 - 1977:
Jazz-rock fusion (Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea and Return to Forever,
Weather Report, Tony Williams’ Lifetime, Herbie Hancock)

ECM (Eberhard Weber, Gateway, Keith Jarrett, Terje Rypdal)
Jazz influenced rock (Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Steely Dan)
Contemporary jazz (Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson)
Acid jazz, trip hop (Brand New Heavies, Incognito, Galliano)
Jazz influenced world music and other hybrids (Material, Tortoise)
Be-bop v hip-hop?

The Innovators (Transcendent Figures)

Louis Armstrong (1901 - 1971) - known as Satchmo

  • brought about many breakthroughs in technique for the trumpet and extended the range
  • proved the feasibility of solo improvisations
  • had a diversity of tune sources (e. g. blues, folk tunes, spirituals and originals)
  • gave impetus to the compositional activity in the 1920’s
  • long and illustrious career

  • Django Reinhardt (1910 - 1953)

  • a European gypsy who was accepted by African-American jazz men
  • severely burned in a caravan fire which left two fingers on his left hand paralysed
  • sensuous and lyrical style

  • Lester Young (1909 - 1959) - known as ‘The Pres’

  • re-established the rhythmic priorities in jazz
  • pioneered the vibrato-less sound which was later taken up by be-boppers
  • expanded the range and dynamics of the tenor saxophone

  • Charlie Parker (1920 -1955) - known as ‘Bird’

  • began playing with the Jay McShann band
  • used higher extensions of the scale and chords, producing extreme dissonance
  • made great use of passing chords
  • expanded the technical options for the saxophone

  • John Birks Gillespie (1917 -1993) - known as ‘Dizzy’

  • technical innovations, including the use of diminished scales
  • translated the be-bop style into the big-band format
  • brought in Latin American and West African rhythms
  • expanded the range and technique of the trumpet

  • Miles Davis (1926 - 1991)

  • began his career playing be-bop in Charlie Parker’s band
  • helped define the cool school and the return to the hot
  • Milestones (1958) - beginnings of modal jazz
  • In a Silent Way (1969) - involved future leaders of important fusion bands
  • Bitches Brew (1970) - first fusion album
  • many other subsequent figures in jazz have played in his bands

  • John Coltrane (1926 - 1967) - known as ‘Trane’

  • played with Miles Davis on a number of important albums, including Milestones
  • developed a technique which is now known as sheets of sound
  • expanded the harmonic vocabulary of jazz ("Giant Steps," "Countdown")
  • experimented with timbres (e. g. multiphonics, harmonics, alternate fingerings
  • experimented with pan-modality and playing without pre-determined structures
  • used unusual lineups

  • Ornette Coleman (1930 - )

  • the ‘father of the avant-garde’
  • abandoned chord changes completely and uses all tonalities and rhythms
  • harmolodics: melody dictating the progress of the music rather than harmonies
  • group improvisation

  • References

    Bergerot, F. and Merlin, A. (1991). The story of jazz - bop and beyond. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

    Carr, I. (1982). Miles Davis - a critical biography. London: Quartet Books.

    Fordham, J. (1989). The sound of jazz. London: Octopus Publishing Group.

    Gioia, T. (2011). The history of jazz (second edition). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Gayford, M. (1993). The best of jazz - the essential CD guide. London: Orion Books Ltd.

    McRae, B. (1987). The jazz handbook. Harlow, Essex: Longman Group UK Limited.

    Russell, R. (1973). Bird lives. London: Quartet Books.

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