All about Jazz

Jazz On Line

The reference site

to learn all about Jazz

What is jazz?

Jazz is a blend of a variety of musical styles. In the course of its development, it has succeeded in integrating many influences and being able to blend many different styles, such as blues and rock, Latin music, hard rock and so on.

From the point of view of musical technique, its depth and complexity are such that it is difficult to define precisely what defines it.

Jazz encompasses a variety of subtypes, such as traditional bebop, fusion, free-jazz and so on. According to Travis Jackson, jazz can be described more “openly”, stating that jazz (whether called swing, fusion or Latin jazz) is a genre of music that can be described as improvisation and group interaction, the development of one’s voice as an artist and openness to a variety of musical possibilities.

Jazzenligne - Artistes de Jazz

Jazz styles

Jazz styles are generally divided into three categories: bebop, swing and free jazz. Bebop is a jazz style characterized by rapid chord changes and improvised solos. Free jazz is an abstract style of music not tied to any particular time signature or tonality. Swing is a style of jazz characterized by long musical phrases with repeated sections (also called “licks”) that form the basis of many songs and dances.

Styles Jazz - Africaines

African music


Styles de Jazz - Bebop


Festivals de Jazz

The biggest jazz festivals

A jazz festival is a type of music festival focused on jazz music. The 1st Jazz Festival was first held in the USA in 1926. This annual event has been popular since its inception and has grown to include thousands of participants and artists every year.

These events offer a wide range of events, performances and workshops open to all. These events include concerts by musicians from all over the world, as well as workshops on jazz improvisation, songwriting and more.

I’ve selected for you the best jazz festivals around the world. You’ll find an overview of each program, pros, cons and more for each jazz festival.

The best jazz albums

With thousands of jazz albums to choose from, it’s not always easy to know which one to listen to. Some artists have recorded over 500 albums, so how do you find that rare gem in the single cosmos? The Jazz en ligne team has compiled a list of the best jazz albums of all time, to bring you only the very best music. If you’re a real jazz fan, then you won’t be disappointed by the collection of titles we can offer you!

The History of Jazz

The origins of Jazz: Black slave music and dance

Before 1808, the slave trade had brought to the United States a million Africans from the sub-Saharan region, mainly from West Africa and the Congo River basin.

They brought their musical customs with them: African music used a single melody, counter-metric rhythms and a call-and-response structure (e.g. work songs). It had above all a utilitarian function, which consisted in helping music for work (work music) or funeral rituals. Gatherings of slaves gave rise to large urban festivals featuring African drumming and dancing.

From 1843 onwards, a festival was held one Sunday a year in Congo Square, New Orleans, and other gatherings took place simultaneously in the southern states. In the midst of all this, jazz found its roots in religion: blacks learned the harmony of hymns at Sunday service, then added African influences to create gospel and negro spirituals, which were then played in Methodist, Baptist and Pentecostal churches.

Similarly, in the 19th century, a large number of black musicians learned to play “European” instruments, notably the violin. They also parodied the ballroom in cakewalks. On the other hand, minstrel shows performed by Euro-Americans disguised as blacks, incorporated the syncopation of African rhythms with the help of the violin.

Around 1850, white-world composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk adapted slave rhythms and Caribbean tunes for the salon piano.

In his “Souvenirs from Havana” (1859), as well as in the music of the Creole culture of the Caribbean and New Orleans, one can discover the same three-beat motif called tresillo. It is a fundamental rhythmic element in the music of sub-Saharan Africa and the African diaspora.

Jazz - Origines - Danses et chants esclaves noirs
Jazz - Origines - Ragitme et blues

Ragtime and blues

At the beginning of the 20th century, blues developed in the Mississippi Delta and spread widely from 1920 to the present day, with the first recording by Mamie Smith, among others.

Then came the ragtime genre, the pianistic style of Scott Joplin, syncopated music inspired by Western classical music. The 1920s saw the emergence of ragtime in Harlem.

The stride heir to ragtime is the introduction of a ternary pulse, and the virtuosity and skill of musicians such as James P. Johnson increase. Boogie-woogie emerges simultaneously in Chicago.

Jazz New Orleans and Dixieland

It was in New Orleans that jazz developed in a general way, notably in the district known as “red-light Storyville” and in the orchestral ensembles of the “brass bands”, which were a mixture of military marches rediscovered by Black Americans and Creoles who favored collective expression.

The 1910s saw the emergence of the first forms of jazz (“proto-jazz”), notably under the direction of bandleader James Reese Europe, who founded the Clef Club. In 1912, the Clef Club Orchestra, the first all-African-American jazz ensemble, opened its doors in Harlem. Between 1913 and 1914, phonograph recordings are made for use by the Victor Talking Machine Company.

The first recorded jazz performance was in March 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, an all-white ensemble.

Creole musician and bandleader Jelly Roll Morton describes himself as “the inventor of jazz”. Although he was truly an intermediary between ragtime and jazz, it was Kid Ory, Sidney Bechet and above all Louis Armstrong who established themselves as the most renowned musicians in New Orleans bands characterized by collective improvisation of the trumpet-clarinet-trombone instrumental pattern.

Jazz Nouvelle Orléans et Dixieland
Jazz - Origines - Cool Jazz et autres styles

Cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, free jazz (1950s)

In the 1950s, bebop evolved into hard and cool bop. Cool and West Coast jazz bring together evolutions of bop that are not influenced by rhythm and typically performed by whites.

Jimmy Giuffre’s Four Brothers, the innovations of Lennie Tristano, and the collaboration of Miles Davis and Gil Evans are typically classified in this category. Hard bop, on the other hand, is an all-black movement that aims to bring blues and soul back into bop, and in which the rhythmic component is the focal point. Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Sonny Rollins were all involved. Other unclassifiable figures also emerged: Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson…

In the late 1950s, harmonic structure and improvisation were pushed to the limits by John Coltrane. The group was led by Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, and the musicians questioned instrumentation and musical structure. The harmonic grid, traditional rhythm and even subject matter were obliterated in favor of collective improvisation and the predominant use of energy, as well as the application of a variety of unusual methods (high-pitched shouts, growls, howls and slaps, “dirty sounds” and even noise). Critical reaction to this brand-new form of jazz is fierce, and the general public is less inclined to listen.

Third Stream

The “Third Stream” movement emerged in the mid-1950s, around the same time as the first free jazz movements.

It resulted from the desire of musicians in the jazz world to broaden their musical perspectives. Among the leading exponents of the third movement were George Russell, John Lewis, Georges Handy, Jimmy Giuffre and Ran Blake.

Although not all are directly associated with this movement, many artists such as Bill Evans, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Ran Blake and Scott LaFaro have contributed to recordings or concerts featuring this style.

Jazz - Third Stream
Jazz fusion

Jazz Fusion and sub-genres

From the 1960s and especially the 1970s onwards, fusion movements between jazz and various musical currents emerged.

Jazz and Latin music gave birth to Latin jazz, or jazz and funk to jazz-funk, but it was the fusion of jazz and rock, also known as jazz-rock, that won over the public. The most notable figures were Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock and the group Weather Report.

Similarly, the creation of the ECM label in Munich contributed to the development and dissemination of a more “European” jazz, presenting more subtle and discreet soundscapes, influenced by classical, contemporary and world music.

Jan Garbarek, John Surman, Louis Sclavis and Kenny Wheeler are just some of the group’s members.

Where can I find a jazz bar?

Jazz bars are generally small, intimate venues with live music. They’re often found in the neighborhoods where jazz originated. The atmosphere is lively and fun, with people sitting on stools at the bar or standing around listening to live music.

Jazz bars have a wide range of features that make them unique. They often serve alcohol, which is why they’re more popular with young people. They also tend to be very intimate and personal places where artists and audiences can share their experiences together.

These characteristics make jazz bars an ideal place to listen to live music or simply spend time with friends in a social setting.

Danser Jazz

How to dance to jazz

Jazz dancing is a type of dance that was developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s by African-Americans in New Orleans. It is characterized by fast tempo, syncopated rhythms and improvisation.

Dance to jazz is a new trend in the dance world. It began in the United States and spread to various parts of the world, including India. It has become a popular choice for people who want to learn to dance but don’t have much free time.

The first jazz dance was called “The Big Apple” or “The Charleston”. It was created by James Reese Europe (1858-1924), an African-American dancer who later became known as “Mr. Bojangles”. He would perform his dances in the streets for money and tips from passers-by.

The influence of Jazz

In music

Jazz has influenced many contemporary composers. 20th century composers and have adapted the rhythms and instruments of the jazz era to their compositions. Examples include Maurice Ravel’s Bolero and Music for the Left Hand , Darius Milhaud’s Creation of the World, Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Orchestra and Two Strings , Dmitri Shostakovich’s Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1 , Igor Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto , André Jolivet’s Concerto for Grand Piano and André Jolivet’s Concerto for Grand Piano. 1 , Igor Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto André Jolivet’s Trumpet Concerto The introduction of jazz into modern music was also the work of jazz musicians such as George Gershwin and his Rhapsody in Blue, or Welsh composer Karl Jenkins and his Massacre of the Armed Man .

However, saxophones, which are the most essential instruments in the jazz orchestra, are unsuitable for symphony orchestras because of their rich timbre and high harmonics. This prevents symphony orchestras from considering them as full-fledged members. In fact, in symphony orchestras, saxophonists are under contract. At the start of the 21st century, jazz’s entry into 20th-century classical works seems more like an experiment or a sporadic search for a particular color or mood, than a lasting influence on classical art.

Jazz is, through blues and rhythm, at the heart of the vast majority of popular music of the 20th century: rock, pop, funk, etc.

Jazz - Influence et musique
Jazz - Influence et littérature

In literature

Many authors have used jazz musicians or songs in their works. Boris Vian, a great jazz fan, member of the Hot Club de France and himself a trumpet player, refers to jazz in most of his writings.

The character in the novel L’Ecume des jours (1947), Chloé, was named in honor of Duke Ellington’s classic jazz tune, Chloé (Song of the Swamp), of which Vian was a great fan. Characters in his novels were often invited to jazz clubs, and the names of composers, jazzmen and tunes are often mentioned. Vian also helped edit the magazine Jazz Hot and wrote jazz radio programs in English for American audiences (Jazz in Paris).

Writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Françoise Sagan, Truman Capote and Michel Leiris, describing the atmosphere of New York or Paris jazz clubs, echoed the vitality of jazz music in the post-war period.

Georges Perec also mentions Coltrane in Un homme qui dort.

In the pictorial arts

The colors and rhythms of jazz, and the atmosphere of jazz clubs, have inspired photographers, sculptors and painters. Piet Mondrian, in his last paintings, tried to capture the energy of boogie-woogie and swing. In 1947, Henri Matisse published a book of cut-out gouaches entitled Jazz. Although the drawings are not specifically jazz-related (they are more about theater and circus), Matisse recognized himself in the way he approached jazz and improvisation.

Nicolas de Stael painted several pictures of jazzmen and jazz clubs. In love with Sidney Bechet, whose “colorful” jazz he loved, he painted two canvases to honor his memory, which he called Les Musiciens à la mémoire de Sidney Bechet(1952-1953). The image of Bechet playing his clarinet, dressed in a dark suit, is evident in the right-hand part of the painting. Bechet may be accompanied by French clarinettist Claude Luter. In both paintings, the colors are bright (yellow and red) to symbolize the energy and rhythm of jazz.

Jazz is a common motif in the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) and has been the source of inspiration for his work. He declared in an interview that “bebop is his favorite music” and that his favorite jazz artist was Miles Davis. Basquiat writes and draws on canvas in a “syncopated” manner, in the style of scat and improvisation. In his painting Grain Alcohol (1983), Basquiat refers to jazzmen using codes: MLSDVS for Miles Davis, DZYGLPSE for Dizzy Gillespie and MX RCH for Max Roach. Basquiat also dedicates his works to specific musicians: Charles the First (1982) to Charlie Parker, Lye (1983) to Nat King Cole, and In the Wings (1986) to Lester Young.

The work of artist Sacha Chimkevitch (1920-2006) is also influenced by jazz. Creator of a number of festival posters, he painted portraits of jazz legends such as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Erroll Garner.

Jazz - Influence et arts
influence Jazz - Cinema

In film

Many films have jazz or jazz musicians as their main theme. The first film to appear in cinema history is The Jazz Singer, released in 1927, which tells the story of a Jewish pianist who tries to become a famous jazz musician by disguising himself as a black man. Jazzmen and jazz bands often feature in films, such as Paul Whiteman in Jazz Magic (1930) or Lester Young in Jammin’ the Blues (1944). Paris Blues documents the liveliness of the Paris jazz scene in the late 1950s, and Louis Panassie’s documentary L’Aventure du jazz (1969-72) features over 130 musicians as well as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. The 2014 documentary Whiplash is one of the very few films to include jazz drums.

In addition, a number of biographies of jazz stars have been created. James Stewart played Glenn Miller in Anthony Mann’s Unfinished Romance (1954), and singer Diana Ross played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. In 1987, Bertrand Tavernier directed Around Midnight, a fictionalized account of the lives of saxophonist Lester Young and pianist Bud Powell. In 1988, Clint Eastwood directed Bird, a biopic about saxophonist Charlie Parker, starring Forest Whitaker. The same year, Eastwood produced Charlotte Zwerin’s documentary on Thelonious Monk, Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser. The documentary Ray (2004) is a portrait of pianist Ray Charles, a major figure in the world of black American music with a wide range of musical genres (jazz, however, as well as blues, rhythm and blues and soul). A documentary was dedicated to Michel Petrucciani in 2011. Actor Don Cheadle is set to play Miles Davis in Miles Ahead, due for release in 2015, with music composed by Herbie Hancock, another jazz legend.

Jazz is also present in the soundtracks of various films whose main subject is not music. It’s everywhere in the films of Woody Allen, himself a jazz clarinettist. George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is the most notable subject of the film Manhattan (1979). Allen also made a mockumentary on the jazz guitar entitled “Accords et désaccords” (1999). Animator Norman McLaren has made several experimental shorts based on jazz music, including Caprice in Color (1949), which uses Oscar Peterson’s piano repertoire.

Learning to play jazz

Learning to play jazz can be complicated if you don’t know where to start. If you want to be able to play jazz, it’s because this style of music represents something important to you. First, you’ll need to decide which instrument you want to learn to play: piano? Guitar? Drums? Or maybe the saxophone? Based on this, we’ll be able to give you access to the best teaching resources and courses to help you progress in jazz online!

Apprendre à jouer du Jazz

Frequently asked questions