It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
A few convoluted definitions of jazz for ear-tickling purposes: "It washes away the dust of every day life," said Art Blakey, or "Jazz is…an open-ended music designed for open minds,' said an another unknown, yet entirely accurate author. All that those really leave us with is the true essence of jazz—it's indescribable, yet utterly lovable. Moving, yet often without an ounce of understanding for its meaning.
Nothing about jazz comes easy. Whether its tracing its origins, writing about it, creating it, or improvising upon the classics, again and again and again. But it is probably this exact, surreal quality that allows it an unusual position in the world of music. A throne of sorts that can never be fought over or sat on by any other genre. It's the perfectly un-hostile king that rules in peace and can never be overthrown. All this thanks to the sheer inability of anyone who doesn't truly love it, to mimic it in any form—a rarity in any creative field.
But we're deviating from the purpose of this article—education of course. So here are 10 surprisingly—and hopefully previously unknown—facts about jazz to fatten up your factual bank. Use them well.
Fact One: The word 'jazz' doesn't exactly have the deepest meanings or origins. Not to mention, its origins are the topic of great controversy but here's the most probable one we could find. In its earlier days, 'to jazz' meant to fornicate, 'jazzing' meant 'having sex,' a 'jazzbo' was a lover of ladies while a jazz baby was an easy woman! According to the grapevine, Clarence Williams was the first songwriter to use the word in a song and somehow, it just got stuck in the lingo of that time, going on to be the name of one of the world's greatest genres of music.
Fact Two: Jazz is hands down, the most hybrid form of music in the world. Drawing from the largest number of influences, including everything from African rhythms, to European Chamber Music to modern day pop elements! Going by those three vastly different genres alone, it's quite apparent that there's truth to this fact!
Fact Three: Few things have been as closely intertwined as jazz and dancing styles. A bit like spaghetti and meatballs perhaps. So in case you were wondering, here are some of the greatest dance forms to have originated from jazz—Truckin', The Shimmy, The Lambeth Walk, Charleston and Black Bottom!
Fact Four: This may not be recorded in anything of true repute, but most jazz musicians will concur that Louisiana has out the greatest volume of jazz musicians and instrumentalists in the world. Which makes it just as famous for its jazz unease as it is for its crawfish, gumbo and crooked politics!
This is probably why the quote "New Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying "I want to be a policeman," or "I want to be a fireman," he says, I want to be a musician" by Alan Jaffe became so famous.
Fact Five: Speaking of quotes, allow us to introduce you to jazz's most famous quote, by jazz's most famous musician. When asked what the definition of jazz was, Louis Armstrong famously stated, "If you've got to ask, then you'll never know!"
Fact Six: The Saxophone is quite easily one of the most distinct jazz instruments around but it never found a place in the genre until 1920. Previously cited as a Belgian instrument reserved for chambers and orchestral performances, it was America's 6 Brown Brothers who brought it to the limelight in jazz as recording stars and since then, at the risk of sounding trite, there's been no looking back!
Fact Seven: Jazz portrays an unusual duality as far as music genres go. While today most people consider it a genre of the elite and well-established, its roots are quite the opposite. It truly evolved from the oppressed lifestyle of the Black community in America and plenty of vulgarities as can be noted by the origin of the word itself!
Fact Eight: Miles Davis, often hailed as one of Jjzz's premier artists, with even newbies and jazz-haters being able to recognize he had a nickname that not many people knew of—he was called 'The Prince of Darkness.' He earned this reputation especially amongst music critics and media people due to the impossible task of breaking the ice with this maestro in interviews.
His album Kind of Blue is regarded as the gold standard of all jazz albums and it was only later in his immaculate career that Davis began to show signs of his 'darkness,' because he began to move ina direction few critics could understand. And his refusal to talk to media people only made him that much more elusive and mysterious.
Fact Nine: John Coltrane, another legendary jazz musician, actually has a church named after him in San Francsico's Western Addition District and many believe this is because of his single A Love Supreme, which is apparently a prayer inspired by a man's dedication to his faith, post overcoming addiction.
As such, the church has a mural of Coltrane above its altar and uses his musical exploration as an explanation for, and an inspiration to, their faith in the divine!
Fact Ten: Though we've named several other geniuses of jazz, it was W.C. Handy who was considered the true 'Father of the Blues' since he laid the foundation for both blues and jazz. Scott Joplin became the pioneer for ragtime and Dett became known as the premier face for classical piano jazz!
-Pictures courtesy wikimedia commons and thejazzresource.com-
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