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Ozark Jazz Society
P.O. Box 2238
Lake Ozark, MO 65049

   Wynton Marsalis:  "Remember, Jazz won't come to you.  You have to seek it out and go to it."

 What is Jazz???

   Jazz, the most versatile form of music is based on Syncopated rhythms, counterpoint and improvisation.  Jazz styles include:

   Ragtime is unique in that it didn't include improvisation or a blues feel.  And yet, it was an influence on early Jazz forms, coming along as it did during the first 15 years of the 20th century.  Primarily a music for piano that was completely written out, it could be performed by orchestras, and represented a blend of classical and marching band influences with a zest of syncopation thrown in.  Listen to the music of Scott Joplin for a taste of ragtime.

   Dixieland is a traditional form of Jazz that shares many elements with early New Orleans Jazz.  Dixieland is upbeat, lyrical and typically involves group improvisations and solos during the chorus.  Pete Fountain, Lou McGarity and some early Louis Armstrong is typical Dixieland Jazz.

   The Blues is a traditional African American fold style.  The earliest blues was improvised music, usually sung or played on guitar, banjo (an instrument of African origin), or harmonica.  Blues is today associated with the 12-bar form (in which, to the background of a very simple 1-4-5 chord progression, a musician sings a line, sings it again, and then ends the verse with an alternate line), but it is important to note that this is not necessary to blues; early blues songs had many forms.  Today's forms include Chicago, Delta, Texas and Blues Rock.

   Swing grew out of New Orleans and Dixieland Jazz.  It took those styles, put them in Big Bands, and gave them set arrangements.  It is an upbeat and dance style of Jazz.  Swing was around for at least a decade, in the form of artists like Louis Armstrong, before Benny Goodman brought it mainstream popularity in 1936.  Major players include Armstrong, Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.

   Big Band Jazz is made by large, at least ten member, bands.  Although it is often associated with the Swing sound, Big Band bands have played all sorts of Jazz.  Glenn Miller, Count Basie and, of course, Duke Ellington epitomize the Big Band.  However there have also been Be-Bop Big Bands, (Dizzy Gillespie and Gerald Wilson) and even Free/Avant-Garde Big Bands, (Sun Ra's Outerspace Arkestra).

   Western Swing took traditional country instruments, string bands and incorporated a jazzy big band sound and elements of '30s popular music such as show tunes.  Tex Williams and Milton Brown were prominent practitioners of this enduring genre, but Texan Bob Wills is its undisputed figurehead.  Recently, bands such as Asleep at the Wheel and Accident Clearinghouse have spearheaded a Western Swing revival.

   Be-Bop emerged in the '40s largely due to the innovations of saxophonist Charlie Parker.  Be-Bop is based on chordal rather than melodic improvisations, and was typically played very fast.  Charlie Parker is the ultimate, and probably the first Bop player, but other important figures include Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach and Bud Powell to name but a few.  Be-Bop also includes Latin music.

   Lounge was a particularly innovative variant of '50s and '60s Easy Listening, intended to create a modern, carefree atmosphere.  Really good lounge is artistically stimulating as well as kitchy, and some of its most talented practitioners used surprisingly innovative and ahead-of-their-time recording techniques.

   The term Crossover Jazz refers to music of the past two and a half decades that combines elements of Jazz with any of a number of pop styles with the intent of "crossing over" into other audiences.  The Lite-Jazz of Kenny G. and David Sanborn represent the blandest of this genre, while R & B influenced vocalists like George Benson.  Even the Jazz-Pop of Steely Dan had a more memorable impact.  R & B is considered to be crossover Jazz, combining big band arrangements and lushness.