April 4, 2017

Jazz has been around in the United States for more than a century. A unique American invention, the roots of this music genre lie in Louisiana, from where it diffused to different parts of the country, and finally, into the world. It has radically evolved from being local music for accompanying dances to an international art form with multiple styles and dialects. Since its origin, ongoing reinvention has been a defining feature of jazz.

Modern day pop, rock, hip-hop, rap and bluegrass music have all been somewhat influenced by jazz. Let’s celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month by lending a keener ear for different elements of this very versatile genre. Here are some guidelines on how to begin your Jazz journey:

1. Discover The Historical Roots

A fusion of different cultures, mainly that of African slaves which were brought to the continent, gave birth to Jazz. New Orleans was the cradle of jazz whereas Chicago and New York became the jazz centres of the world. From New Orleans Jazz and Swing bands, to the more experimental Bebop Jazz right up to 21st century electronic and synthesizer jazz, this music genre has undergone a lot of variations.

jazz for beginners

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2. Start By Listening To The Greats

Here is a list of some of the Jazz artists that define the genre.

Louis Armstrong

Duke Ellington

Miles Davis

John Coltrane

Ornette Coleman

Ella Fitzgerald

Herbie Hancock

3. Go Through These Jazz Guides

Get started with these guides to get yourself acquainted: the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Jazz, Teach Yourself Jazz, and The Encyclopaedia of Jazz. You can also flip through The Telegraph’s picture gallery on the 30 best jazz albums of all time.

jazz for beginners

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4. Try The Blues

Blues artists like WC Handy have helped shape Jazz as a complete music genre. If jazz is said to be the father of modern music, then blues is definitely the grandfather.

5. Look Out For Upcoming Artists

Upcoming talent like Jacob Collier is always worth listening to. They add a fresh vibe to the ever evolving music forms like Jazz. Check out some of the Jazz albums that released in 2016.

jazz for beginners

6. Watch Some Jazz Movies

Films like The Jazz Singer are supposed to be a landmark of American cinema. If you want to look at a more recently made film, watch Don Cheadle’s 2016 biopic about Miles Davis. Check out all-time list of amazing jazz movies.

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7. Jazz In India

There are a few desi jazz bands that have changed the scope of the genre in the nation. These independent Indian artists have been jazzing up the music scene with their Indian touch.