Jazz History Timeline

  • Ragtime

    Rhythms brought from a musical heritage in Africa were incorporated into cakewalks, coon songs and the music of "jig bands" which eventually evolved into Ragtime.
  • Classic Jazz

    New Orleans style, or "Classic Jazz" originated with brass bands that performed for parties and dances in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Many of the musical instruments had been salvaged from the Confederate War which included the clarinet, saxophone, cornet, trombone, tuba, banjo, bass, guitar, drums and occasionally a piano.
  • Chicago Style

    Characterized by harmonic, inovative arrangements and a high technical ability of the players, Chicago Style Jazz significantly furthered the improvised music of it's day.
  • Hot Jazz

    The music was characterized by collective improvised solos, around melodic structure, that ideally built up to an emotional and "hot" climax. The rhythm section, usually drums, bass, banjo or guitar supported this crescendo, many times in the style of march tempo.
  • Swing

    Derived from New Orleans Jazz, Swing was robust and invigorating. The mid 1990's saw a revival of Swing music fueled by the retro trends in dance. Once again young couples across America and Europe jitter-bugged to the swing'n sounds of Big Band music, often played by much smaller ensembles.
  • Kansas City Jazz

    During the Depression and Prohibition eras, the Kansas City Jazz scene thrived as a mecca for the modern sounds of late 1920s and 30s. Characterized by soulful and blusey stylings of Big Band and small ensemble Swing, arrangements often showcased highly energetic solos played to "speakeasy" audiences.
  • Gypsy Jazz

    The main instruments are guitars, often amounting to a half-dozen ensemble, with occasional violins and bass violin. Solos pass from one player to another as the other guitars assume the rhythm.
  • Vocalese

    Performers may solo or sing in ensemble, supported by small group or orchestra. Bop in nature, Vocalese rarely ventured into other Jazz styles and never brought commercial success to it's performers until recent years.
  • Bebop

    Until then, Jazz improvisation was derived from the melodic line. Bop soloists engaged in harmonic improvisation, often avoiding the melody altogether after the first chorus. Usually under seven pieces, the soloist was free to explore improvised possibilities as long as they fit into the chord structure.
  • Mainstream Jazz

    Mainstream Jazz picked up influences from Cool, Classic and Hardbop. The terms Modern Mainstream or Post Bop are used for almost any style that cannot be closely associated with historical types of Jazz music.
  • Cool Jazz

    A smoothed out mixture of Bop and Swing, tones were again harmonic and dynamics were now softened. The ensemble arrangement had regained importance.
  • Hard Bop

    The melodies tend to be more "soulful" than Bebop, borrowing at times from Rhythm & Blues and even Gospel themes. The rhythm section is sophisticated and more diverse than the Bop of the 1940's.
  • Modal Jazz

    Drawing from medieval church modes, which used altered intervals between common tones, players found new inspiration. Soloists could now free themselves from the restrictions of dominant keys and shift the tonal centers to form new harmonics within their playing.
  • Free Jazz

    Free Jazz is sometimes referred to as "Avante Garde", although true Free Jazz soloists shed even the ensemble arrangement structure, giving for a totally "free" impulse experience to the music.
  • Soul Jazz

    Derived from Hardbop, Soul Jazz is perhaps the most popular Jazz style of the 1960's. Improvising to chord changes, as with Bop, the soloist strives to create an exciting performance. The ensemble of musicians concentrates on a rhythmic groove centered around a strong but varied bassline.
  • Groove

    An off-shoot of Soul Jazz, Groove draws its tones from the Blues and focuses mainly on the rhythm. Sometimes referred to as "Funk" it concentrates on maintaining the continuous rhythm "hook' complimented lightly by instrumental and sometimes lyrical ornaments.
  • Bossa Nova

    A blend of West Coast Cool, European classical harmonies and seductive Brazilian samba rhythms, Bossa Nova or more correctly "Brazilian Jazz", reached the United States circa 1962.
  • Fusion

    By the early 1970's, the term "Fusion" had come to identify a mixture of Jazz improvisation with the energy and new rhythms of Rock and World music.
  • Post Bop

    Starting in 1979, a new emergence of players hit the scene with a fresh approach to the Hard Bop of the 1960s, but rather than take it into the Groove and Funk rhythms that had evolved a generation before, these "young lions" added the textures and influences of the 1980s and 90s.
  • Afro-Cuban Jazz

    Also known as Latin Jazz, Afro-Cuban Jazz is a combination of Jazz improvising and highly infectious rhythms. Afro-Cuban Jazz has become a true fusion between North, South and Central America.
  • Acid Jazz

    Originating in the 1987 British dance scene, it defined a funky music style which incorporated sampled classic Jazz tracks, 70s Funk, Hip-Hop, Soul and Latin grooves, with the main focus on instrumental music and not the lyric.
  • Smooth Jazz

    Evolving from Fusion, but leaving behind the energetic solos and dynamic crescendos, Smooth Jazz emphasizes its polished side. Improvisation is also largely ignored giving argument whether the term "Jazz" can truly apply. Highly produced layering of synthesizers and rhythm tracks give it unobtrusive, slick and highly polished packaging, where the ensemble sound matters more than individual expression.
  • Jazz Rap

    Jazz Rap encompasses various attempts by artists at fusing African-American music of the past with present day commercial trends. Keeping the signature heavy beats of Hip Hop, a more sophisticated Jazz influenced structure enhances the often bland harmonic back-drop characteristic of more pop oriented Rap music.
  • M-Base

    The M-Base concept was a holistic fundamental to aspects of nature and human existence found all over the world and reached far back into ancient times.
  • European

    Combining elements from House (a type of disco music based on Funk, with fragments of other recordings edited in electronically) with acoustic, electronic and sampled sound to create a popular and populist variety of contemporary Jazz.