Episode 1: What is Jazz?

What is Jazz, apart from being probably the coolest word ever?

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Jazz is a genre of music born as an expression, account of the life of former African slaves brought to the United States. According to some, it would be more correct to call it Afro-American music, and of course the source is, but people all over the world, now, composes, plays and listens to jazz: Norwegian, Finnish, Italian, New Zealand, no matter where.

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Jazz music from the early days was based on a combination of African musical elements, that is articulated on a pentatonic scale, with characteristic blue notes, harmonies derived from European classical music, and extensive use of syncopated rhythm, or more precisely of polyrhythms, the difference between classical music and jazz and has greatly faded so much that it is not unusual to performance classic jazz and jazz performances of classical musicians.

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A peculiar characteristic of Jazz is undoubtedly the improvisation, which begins from a simple variation on the initial theme and gradually assumes more and more complexity

The origin of the word Jazz is uncertain. Some say it comes from the jaser (talk, talk), since in fact the jazz is based on continuous dialogue between musicians. However, the fact is that jazz is one of the most important cultural phenomenon of our century.

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Jazz music it is rooted in African culture, in blacks slaves deported to the United States. These people, working, singing something that, later on, their own grandchildren were baptized Blues. The blues – which obviously is related with jazz – is also a state of mind.

However, the first real explosion of Jazz took place in the city of New Orleans, a city in Louisiana and largest river port on the Mississippi Delta in the early 1900s. The musical style that developed in this city was born from the clash of different cultures of immigrants, English, Spanish, French, which came into contact with African slaves and Creoles, already included in the French culture. Not surprisingly, the original sound of New Orleans has several points in common with the styles of European military marches.

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Jazz music can be considered as a new gateway to other worlds of music, from blues that was only an exemplification of the pentatonic scale, we moved to the development of many standards, where each module is changed to continuous harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic.

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In this very long journey on thevaliens.com we will discover the shape of jazz to come, the musicians, the albums, the styles. From 1900 to modern days, be ready to embark your best trip ever. Shame on you if you miss even 1 single episode!

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