The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Is there a commonly accepted definition of which characteristics music should have to be labeled "jazz"? Blues music seem to have a structural form and a basic scale besides a mood. But jazz ... what is the common denominator?
    Baden Powell, Al DiMeola, Joe Pass, Charlie Christian, Alan Holdsworth, Django Reinhard, Doug Raney, Wayne Johnson, Kenny Burrell, Wayne Kranz, George Benson and many more ... what do they have in common to qualify as jazz musicians?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Im not an expert. But I think jazz can be defined in some way. It has to be with the scales that are used, and also the rythims.

    Its like "what is country?". My music theory is null, but I can tell what makes country to be country, and as I said, is up to the scales and the rythim.

  4. #3

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    The historical common thread traditionally has been the distinction that improvisation, or real time composition makes up the primary substance of any "jazz" performance. Just how deeply one delves or in which tradition, what lexicon, what syntax or what semantic quality this language takes is very much the jazz performer's prerogative.
    There are many factions within this history and communities of jazz and some have stricter guidelines, but among the changing and wide ranging communities in my circles, it's the feeling that the solo, or the interpretive ownership of a performance that makes it jazz.
    Sometime Tommy Flannagan might play the head only in a performance but the decisions of harmonic and melodic interpretation make it his ownership. Sometimes Keith Jarrett might take a piece that is structured based on harmonic traditions, but the ordering elements come directly from those traditions yet they're totally his own compositions. That's jazz too. He made it.
    I learned from people who were part of a tradition handed down by Ellington and Duke himself made the distinction between Creative and Re-Creative (or Western traditional or classical) music.
    It's not what you make but the process and honesty of that personal process that makes it valid in the genre.
    That's the way I see it.
    But hey, it's jazz, nobody has written the rulebook that forms the boundries of exclusion.

  5. #4

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    Hey you forgot Kool and the Gang and Frankie Beverly’s Maze, both of whom headlined the big jazz festival in Hampton VA in the 1980s near where I grew up.

    My unofficial, unscientific, and sporadically administered surveys on “what is jazz?” for people who aren’t musicians is “any music with no singing” plus Michael Bublé.

    Quote Originally Posted by teeps
    Is there a commonly accepted definition of which characteristics music should have to be labeled "jazz"? Blues music seem to have a structural form and a basic scale besides a mood. But jazz ... what is the common denominator?
    Baden Powell, Al DiMeola, Joe Pass, Charlie Christian, Alan Holdsworth, Django Reinhard, Doug Raney, Wayne Johnson, Kenny Burrell, Wayne Kranz, George Benson and many more ... what do they have in common to qualify as jazz musicians?

  6. #5

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    Amusing Gioia column on renaming “jazz”.

    Ted Gioia - When They Had a Contest to Rename Jazz

  7. #6

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    There's not a very solidified and accepted definition although the wiki article is pretty close.

    Jazz - Wikipedia

    It talks about the origins, groove, and harmony it uses.

    That's pretty accurate.

    I think I have it pinned down though - it's the phenomenon of harmonically fluid music that results from melody continuously interacting with the chords of the tune through improvisation. Imo that's the common denominator of jazz. While the tunes and grooves such as swing are also important but not the defining elements. You don't see this in any other style of music, while if you have the harmonically fluid melodies interacting with the chords, it's jazz regardless of what groove it uses. Stanley Jordan is a good example.

  8. #7

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    Maybe the way to find the answer to the question “what is jazz?” is to ask a different question first.

    Pop music is at least as varied in its sounds, origins, and styles as “jazz”, probably moreso, so then…

    What is “pop”?
    Music that is popular.

    What is “jazz”?
    Everything else.

  9. #8

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    No

  10. #9

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    Jazz is vintage rap.


    It's the metaphorical grape juice to a classical matured fine wine.

  11. #10

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    Rapping uses almost no melody, so I would say no again..

  12. #11

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    Rap has melody, but it’s microtonal.

    Unfortunately, Rap is also microcephalic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    Rapping uses almost no melody, so I would say no again..

  13. #12

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    It isn't microtonal. I'm not hating on rap because they do utilize melody and harmony - the rapping usually skips around between a few notes, so it does utilize melody, but barely. The beat or loop usually has melodic and harmonic stuff going on too but not anywhere near the degree where I'd compare to jazz.

  14. #13

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    I unapologetically hate on Rap. And Hip Hop.

    And scat singing, for that matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    It isn't microtonal. I'm not hating on rap because they do utilize melody and harmony - the rapping usually skips around between a few notes, so it does utilize melody

  15. #14

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    Jazz is the music jazz musicians play for the consumption of jazz fans.

  16. #15
    Here are a few quotes by some influential musicians on their opinion about jazz which I found interesting and some of you might find compelling too.


    "Jazz Music is the power of now. There is no script. It's conversation. The emotion is given to you by musicians as they make split-second decisions to fulfill what they feel the moment requires."

    - Wynton Marsalis


    "I think the music situation today has reached the point where it isn't necessary for categories. I think what people hear in music is either agreeable to the ear or not. And if this is so, if music is agreeable to my ear, why does it have to have a category? It either sounds good or it doesn't"

    - Duke Ellington


    "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."

    - Louis Armstrong

  17. #16

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    "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktah B
    Jazz is vintage rap.


    It's the metaphorical grape juice to a classical matured fine wine.
    Like a Lois Roderer Cristal Rose Millleseme to a carton of Welchs'.

  19. #18

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    A bunch of guys playing different songs all at the same time while wearing sunglasses?

  20. #19

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    I got jazz apples from Sainsburys

    they are pretty good

  21. #20

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    Serious - everyone can agree on what definitely is jazz but not everyone agrees on what definitely isn’t.

    it’s like this with a lot of things in life actually.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    Serious - everyone can agree on what definitely is jazz but not everyone agrees on what definitely isn’t.

    it’s like this with a lot of things in life actually.
    It's part of identity, knowing who you are not is just as important as knowing who you are.

  23. #22

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    @ 1:34


  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    I got jazz apples from Sainsburys

    they are pretty good
    They were created in New Zealand in 1985, a decade when many new things were called jazz. The Honda City car was called Honda Jazz in Europe when it was introduced in 1982.

    Vivaldi potatoes are so named because they are grown in both hemispheres, and so available in all four seasons.

  25. #24

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    Branford Marsalis's take was that Jazz's contribution to music was twofold,

    The use of b3rd's & b7ths in the melody,

    'Swing' (derived from NO 2nd line) time feel.

    not generally a fan of scat but I make an exception for this,


    Also...good rappers swing...complaining Big Joe Turner only ever sang the same 5 notes is missing the point

  26. #25

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    I like to apply this quote from James Satler to most things I do, namely, call what I play jazz no matter what anyone else says.

    “You are perfectly entitled to invent your life and to claim that it’s true.” —James Salter