Jazz and Blues – An Overview
Let’s take a closer look at what blues and jazz are and how they differ in musical style.
What is Jazz?
Jazz and blues are two distinct musical genres. They are American musical traditions that have roots that go back hundreds of years. Jazz for instance, was developed in New Orleans and was originally known as “jass” but later evolved into jazz by dropping the “ss” and replacing it with “zz” which basically translates into “cool”. It wasn’t until the 19th century that jazz began to take on brass instruments, prior to which instruments like the saxophone, cornet, and trombone were primarily used. As those instruments were infused into the genre, it evolved to create a much larger base.
What is Blues?
Blues, unlike jazz, originated in the southern part of Mississippi, and was first recorded in the 1920s. During that time, it was typically played solo, which is different from the ensemble like nature of jazz we see today. The first ever blues solo player simply used a slide guitar as his primary musical instrument. Today, it enlists the help of many artists and includes blues bands to create its distinct sound.
How They’re Similar
Jazz Blues is a genre all its own, but typically refers to a blues artist who uses more complex harmonies or rhythms and breaks away from traditional blues patterns, or a jazz artist who keeps his harmonies simple. The result is a mix match combination of musical patterns and jazz blues songs that music lovers can treasure. Some people even refer to jazz blues songs as “R&B” although that wouldn’t be completely accurate.
The truth is, many people equate jazz and blues to the same genre simply because they originated in the American South. Discerning the two distinct genres can be confusing, simply because many artists do crossovers, going from jazz to blues and the reverse. While that does make them ‘siblings’ they certainly aren’t identical. The jazz blues genre may refer to is simply a combination of both styles or a little of one taken from another to create a mashup.
Whether you prefer jazz music, blues, or like jazz blues songs, there are countless reasons to listen to this distinctly American genre of music. Attractive harmonies, unique rhythms and generations old music styles are the foundations of jazz and blues. One thing is for sure, we can all agree that jazz and blues are fun, easy genres to listen to.