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jive (origin unknown) – 1. the jargon of jazz musicians or enthusiasts. 2. deceptive, nonsensical or glib talk. 3. to play or dance to jive music.

jazz (Origin unknown) — 1. music originating in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century and subsequently developing through various increasingly complex styles, generally marked by intricate, propulsive rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, virtuosic solos, melodic freedom, varying degrees of improvisation and often deliberate distortions of pitch and timbre ranging from simple scale playing, through chromaticism, to atonality. 2. liveliness; spirit; excitement.

Jazz comes from the mixture of blues, ragtime, brass-band and syncopated dance music that could be heard in the streets of the Storyville red-light district of New Orleans at the turn of the last century. The first music known as jazz was the New Orleans style, (later called Dixieland) in which each player in a small group would collectively improvise, or improvise in such a way that the parts combined into a balanced, integrated whole.

Jelly Roll Morton is considered the first true jazz composer – he was the first to write down his jazz arrangements in musical notation — “Jelly Roll Blues,” in 1915, was the first published jazz arrangement in history — and Jelly Roll wrote many of the songs that would become staples in the jazz repertory.  In the Twenties virtuosos like trumpeter Louis Armstrong began to fly high on solo lines separate from the accompanying instruments, which became the formative idea of jazz for the next few decades.

The big band swing era of the Thirties and Forties brought harmonic and rhythmic revolutions to jazz, exemplified by the work of Count Basie and Duke Ellington.  Ellington has been called “perhaps the single most important creative talent in American popular music history.”  The Duke’s unparelled genius as a composer ranged from three-minute pop jewels like “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing),” the song that gave the swing era its name, to ambitious works like “Black, Brown and Beige,” a 50-minute classical-style suite introduced at Carnegie Hall in 1943.  While the Duke was commended for his composing skills, the Count was lauded as “the” bandleader of the era, nurturing the talents of such powerhouse soloists as saxophonist Lester Young (Young, or “Prez,” was “Lady Day” Billie Holiday’s favorite musician  — they gave each other those nick-names) and vocalist Jimmy Rushing.

Be-bop was pioneered in the late Forties by artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Charlie Parker, and is considered the first kind of modern jazz.  Named by the onomatopoeic mimicking of the staccato two-tone phrase distinctive in the form, when it emerged, be-bop was rejected by not only the general public, but by many musicians as being unmusical and unlistenable.  “Cutting contests” were first seen between rival brass bands on the streets of New Orleans in the 1870s, and were popular among bop musicians.  Late into the night at after hours joints, musicians would try to play each other off the stage by creating a louder, faster, more brilliant or innovative sound.  Bop spawned  “cool”, hard bop and modal playing in the Fifties, first explored by Miles Davis.  Cool jazz derives its name from what music critics identified as an understated or subdued feeling Miles’ playing, and his 1949 ground breaking recording The Birth of the Cool.

In the Sixties, saxophonist John Coltrane combined Eastern and Western notions of improvisation, and another sax player, Ornette Coleman, began to rework the idea of collective improvisation from the early years of jazz.  Miles Davis experimented with a hybrid of jazz and rock that became “fusion” and spawned Seventies groups like Weather Report, the Mahavishnu Orchestra and informed the work of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Steely Dan.  In the Eighties and Nineties jazz came back to its roots in New Orleans as the horn-playing Marsalis Brothers and pianist Harry Connick Jr. found success with neo-traditional styles of jazz.  Today, jazz continues its tradition of change and continues to cross-pollinate: with punk, New Age, world music, rap and mainstream pop.

— Meredith Rutledge for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

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