Underappreciated music genres: jazz

Andrew Shermoen

Whether you’ve realized it or not, you love jazz. Every era of music has been defined by a distinct,  revolutionary sound and style, the echoes of which inspire our modern genres. In other words, in a way, every artist you listen to has been inspired by jazz. In particular, country, hip-hop, rock and trap music all owe their existences to jazz because they were built upon rebellion and experimentation. They capture the world at its most truthful and chaotic, yet unabashedly beautiful.

The early works of big bands from the musical geniuses Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Thelonious Monk will be sure to get your feet tapping as their powerhouse music blasts through speakers to turn your living room into a 1920s dance hall.

Do you prefer more vocal music from the early years of jazz? Check out Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. Their work is transcendent and their voices are unmatched. Fitzgerald in particular is known as the queen of scat. Her brilliance with improvisation helped her skyrocket into the public eye. Improvisation is the greatest gift jazz gave to music, with every single genre incorporating it in some way shape or form.

The guitar solo, the freestyle rap and bass drop all are inspired by the act of scatting or improvisation and hearing the original predecessor to all these beloved musical elements increases your love of them.

Even new artists are still participating in writing jazz. Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and A Tribe Called Quest all fall in the conventions of jazz rap, which uses the musical conventions of Jazz music mixed with freestyle rap lyrics. Nu jazz incorporates electronic house music and funk with the stylings of heavy jazz improvisation. Not to mention modern jazz artists like Esperanza Spalding and Kamasi Washington producing jazz music to beautiful results. Much of the best music of the past few years is directly connected to jazz such as “To Pimp a Butterfly,” “The Epic” and “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service.”