Backstory: HiStory

“…today jazz is in the midst of a delighted rediscovery of its sources and of its continuity.” by John Clellon Holmes


America entered the ’60’s with the socioeconomic and cultural stains of the ’50’s. Jazz still captured a respectable portion of the popular audience. Big Band also described as jazz band; jazz ensemble; stage band; jazz orchestra and dance band is a musical ensemble that is always identified with jazz. It is a style and sound of music that became popular in the early 1930’s and is still popular today. Typically comprised of 15-25 musicians and include instrument such as: saxophones, trombones, trumpets, trombones; vibraphone, singers and a rhythm section – drum set, piano, guitar, bass, etc. This is in contrast to its sister — “jazz combos” where improvisation is the major element. Big bands play music that is arranged or prepared in advance and notated on sheet music or charts that could include improvisation segments. Bebop was garnered by big band as well as jazz combos came about in the 1940’s.

In 1959, John Clellon Holmes wrote “Jazz has always had a tradition, but until recently jazzmen and their followers have seldom respected it or understood it The history of jazz until the last few years has been pretty drearily the history of warring cliques and clashing styles and cries of heresy.” The jazz books that have been written have been by white critics that were intelligent and set the tone for jazz. They came from a culture that was outside that of the musicians who were writing and performing it. The jazz musicians were depicted by Geoff Dyer as “a talent ‘consuming’ itself even as it flourishes” and the grounds for an argument that “premature death is a condition of creativity.” Drug use was not unique to jazz, however, the jazz greats that films have been made of in the 20th Century focussed on the drug use and not on their talent and genius. Jazz has been fragmented and lacks a sort of continuity that would lead to a better understanding and appreciation. My next post will address Backstory:  HerStory…Jazzwomen Overview

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