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Jazz music could be the most significant cultural contribution to the world's heritage. Furthermore, it reveals American society's history and traditions. Jazz became popular in the early 1920s. It was the era when the color line was drawn between African-Americans and Americans and the separate-but-equal philosophy became a reality. These two events had an impact on one another. People in the music industry and the American government associated jazz with a wide range of concepts in order to deny or promote specific music genres, artists, or traditions.People, who were engaged in radio, recording, live performances, music publishing and journalism, promotion and book publishing, helped to create the culture and music of jazz. Through the history and traditions of jazz, we can see the questions of nationality, race, and cultural value. And on the other hand all these things identify jazz as America’s music and an innovative black American art. Jazz was identified as ‘democratic’ music because it played role in racial integration and in its depiction of American democracy in government programs. This kind of music can be used to examine the historiographical themes of America. A lot of Americans calls jazz as a symbolic music of a new age. To recapitulate, Jazz music demonstrates the link between the music, society and American cultural weather at that time.
Key words: jazz music, American society, ‘democratic’ music, American cultural weather.
Music that inspires
The 1920s are known as the Jazz Age. But it doesn’t mean only that jazz was the most popular music of the era. It also shows that the mood of jazz music expressed the mood of the whole nation. By analyzing jazz we can not only discover the features and history of this genre, but also we can learn about people who created and were keen on it.
The history of jazz can be viewed as the cultural history of the United States. It reveals the good and the bad. Speaking about the good, it is enchanting how two musical cultures have combined and established a common genre of music. It is fusion of arts that can be called a ‘hybrid’. This musical intention has appeared in New Orleans and spread all over the world. This fact is fundamental for understanding the relationships between jazz and segregation. It is a style of music which is generated with the help of sources of African-American and European origins. The most interesting about it is that the character of jazz was denied be members of both traditions due to the different colors of the skin. And it was a paradox of American society. The American government sent jazz troops to give concerts all over the world in order to maintain democracy and justice. But the question of racism and discrimination was an intractable problem in United States. In jazz context, Americans feared that reorganization of their culture and values may have taken place. They were also anxious about race mixing, because jazz was accompanied with dances. Americans saw the danger in physical contact between a black man and a white woman. They consider it to be a real threat. But later society’s mind underwent some changed and jazz became the most popular music genre. It helped to overcome racism.
The history and democratic status of jazz was essential for the improvement of House Concurrent Resolution 57 in 1987. It was connected with the Jazz Preservation Act (JPA). JPA characterize jazz as a ‘national treasure’. Jazz was considered to be worthy to get public support and be included in the education system. This style of music was shaped through ideas of its place within American culture and society.
Jazz is considered to be the American music which played a particular role in the history of race and discrimination in the industry. Jazz underwent a lot of events and endured changes of people’s attitude. But jazz industry has been thriving for a long period of time already.
There are a number of artists who demonstrates jazz music nowadays. But it is necessary to start with historical significant recordings. Here is a list of them:
• Cannonball Adderley - somethin’ else
• Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage
• Clifford Brown - Study In Brown
• John Coltrane - Blue Train
• Cannonball Adderley - & Coltrane
• Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil
• Horace Silver - Song For My Father
• Dizzy Gillespie - Sonny Side Up
• Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
• John Coltrane - Giant Steps
These compositions are just a little part of a huge jazz heritage.
Speaking about modern jazz, it is quite thriving even now.
Being singer and composer, Gregory Porter began his music career over 20 years ago. His first album ‘Water’ was outstanding. But for his third album ‘Liquid Spirit’ he was awarded by the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2013. He is considered to be the future jazz legend.
Grammy-nominated Melody Gardot started her career at the age of 16. Her debut album was called ‘Worrisome Heart’ and it received a great public support. One of her most famous songs is ‘Baby I’m a Fool’.
Esperanza Spalding is a jazz singer, bassist and cellist. Her playing violin with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon says or her being very talented. Her first album ‘Junjo’ received a lot of wonderful reviews. Her song ‘Unconditional Love’ is very popular in the world of jazz music.
Jazz music is one of the most outstanding genres. It had taken its beginning in America and later it was spread all over the world. Jazz revealed the relations between people, cultural background of that time and music itself. It showed the position of African-Americans, the political situation and the thoughts of American society. So through the history of jazz we can see the history of United States and its people.
Farley G. (2008). Making America’s Music: Jazz History and the Jazz Preservation Act.
Urbain O. (2002). Jazz and Social Justice (Part 1): Giving Voice to the Voiceless.
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