The Rebirth of Cool: What makes Jazz cool

By Motlagae Konyana

Jazz is musical genre that was discovered 100 years ago in New Orleans by African American communities. Another popular theory regarding the origin of Jazz is that it evolved from the oppressed black communities in America with plenty of vulgar notably by the word Jazz itself. Jazz music way back then was not written (no musical notation) nor was it recorded primarily due to severe technical limitations or primitive recording equipment. It is believed that Jazz originally was the combination of African rhythms   and European harmony. The African music offered its renowned beat whereas European music offered dance rhythm .The combination of these two contrasting styles gave Jazz its characteristic swing.

Over the years, however, Jazz underwent metamorphosis with the emergence of various styles such as classical Jazz, bebop, big band or swing, blues. Jazz as an art form became attractively exotic both in America and Europe and it was associated with nightclubs and the nightlife.  The rapidly growing record industry became interested in Jazz performers. With the advent of swing, many white bands continued to prosper and many black Jazz bands struggled finding wide audience mainly due to lack of mainstream connections and recording contracts. This resulted in an exodus of black bands to Europe. Even as Jazz became cool and increasingly sophisticated, it dipped again and again into variety of sources, renewing it and extending its influence into popular musical form.

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Much as Jazz became sophisticated its popularity shrank because of its difficulty. However, it continues to influence newer musical styles such as rock and roll. Jazz of the later twentieth century became academic and highly respectable as a high culture phenomenon. The evolution of Jazz into smooth Jazz, Jazz-fusion, acid Jazz and Jazz soul has appealed widely to younger audience. Even though Jazz as an art form has experienced ups and downs, artists such as Wynton Marsalis and Brandford Marsalis led the renaissance in the widespread popularity of Jazz. Jazz lovers the world over are regarded as cool, sophisticated and educated and often engaged in clever conversation.

 

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