Section 3: Ragtime, the blues, blues form, and 32-bar song form
Written for the piano, the rag was one of the most influential styles of music on early jazz. The left-hand accompaniment pattern of the rag was adopted in early stride-style jazz piano. Scott Joplin is one of the most famous rag composers.
Listen to The Entertainer. This piece has several sections. Listen specifically from 00:00 to 02:16, and consider the following questions:
Section 4: Early Jazz
Among the great New Orleans jazz musicians who recorded in the 1920s were Joe “King” Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. King Oliver’s piece Dippermouth Blues, in particular, exhibits the characteristic collective improvisation that defines the New Orleans style.
Louis Armstrong was the first great jazz solo improviser, and he has one of the most distinctive solo styles. West End Blues provides an opportunity to get better acquainted with Armstrong’s solo style.
Listen to West End Blues by Louis Armstrong and Hit Hot Five, another example of the New Orleans polyphony. The melody of this piece is played collectively by the three horns at 00:15 to 00:50 after an amazing trumpet introduction of Louis Armstrong (00:00 to 00:13).
Consider the following Questions:
Section 5: Swing and Duke Ellington
The recording for this Discussion Topic is Ko-Ko performed by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Notable soloists in Ellington’s orchestra include Cootie Williams on trumpet, Johnny Hodges on alto sax, Ben Webster on tenor sax, and Jimmy Blanton on bass, as well as Duke Ellington himself on piano.
Listen to Ko-Ko performed by Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, and consider the following questions:
Section 6: Swing
Benny Goodman was the “King of Swing,” credited with popularizing swing jazz for the broader American population. He was one of the few white bandleaders regarded as “hot” by black jazz musicians. He was also the first white bandleader to cross the “color line” and hire black musicians. In this discussion topic we’ll hear the Benny Goodman Orchestra performing live at Carnegie Hall—a momentous occasion in itself.
Listen to Swingtime in the Rockies performed by The Benny Goodman Orchestra, and consider the following questions:
Section 7: Bebop
In this discussion topic we hear Thelonious Monk’s jazz standard Straight, No Chaser.Monk somehow manages to place his personal stamp on each of his compositions, providing strong support for the view that his work transcends the bebop genre.
Listen to Straight No Chaser. Notice the many distinctive melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic “quirks” that help us to recognize Monk, and consider the following questions:
Section 8: Cool Jazz
Listen to Paul Desmond’s Take Five performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and consider the following questions:
Section 9: Hard Bop
Miles Davis’ mid-50s quintet, along with groups led by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, and Sonny Rollins, was one of the early standard bearers of hard bop. In this discussion, we listen to Miles Davis’ version of Cole Porter’s Love For Sale. Joining Miles on the front line is tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, who came to prominence at this time in association with Davis, and alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. On Love For Sale, Miles takes a Cole Porter ballad and plays it up-tempo, continuing to establish a “straight-ahead” style of hard bop that remains influential in contemporary jazz today.
Listen to Love For Sale, and consider the following questions:
Section 10: John Coltrane
John Coltrane is another giant of jazz. We’ll hear one of excellent works as leader from 1957 to 1964. Coltrane underwent an evolution in his creative style over these years, both as composer and performer. Yet, there is an aspect of Coltrane’s performance artistry that remains distinctly identifiable throughout his career. Remarkably, his music would evolve further in the last three years of his life (1964-1967) into the realm of free jazz.
Listen to Coltrane’s My Favorite Things, and consider the following questions:
Section 11: Free Jazz and the Avant-Garde
Listen to Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage performed by Herbie Hancock, and consider the following questions:
Section 12: Jazz-Rock Fusion
Spain, a mix of jazz-rock fusion and Latin jazz, is a famous piece by Chick Corea’s Return to Forever. Let’s listen and consider the following questions:
Section 13: Postmodernism vs. Neoclassicism
The music of Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, David Murray, and John Zorn is arguably representative of a variety of postmodern approaches to jazz. How does this postmodern approach distinguish itself from the neoclassical approach exemplified in the music of Wynton Marsalis? Along the philosophical spectrum of jazz, where do you stand? Which points made by either of these two philosophic camps do you support? Which points do you oppose?
Section 14: Latin Jazz
Listen to Royal “T”. This piece by Tito Puente is a good example of his Afro-Cuban approach to composing and percussion. See the “Latin Jazz” and “Tito Puente” pages in this lesson to help you describe the style of Royal “T” and the style of Puente’s group, and consider the following questions:
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