Jazz has been called America’s classical music, and for good reason.
Along with the blues, its forefather, it is one of the first truly indigenous musics to develop in America, yet its unpredictable, risky ventures into improvisation gave it critical cache with scholars that the blues lacked. At the outset, jazz was dance music, performed by swinging big bands. Soon, the dance elements faded into the background and improvisation became the key element of the music. As the genre evolved, the music split into a number of different styles, from the speedy, hard-hitting rhythms of be-bop and the laid-back, mellow harmonies of cool jazz to the jittery, atonal forays of free jazz and the earthy grooves of soul jazz. What tied it all together was a foundation in the blues, a reliance on group interplay and unpredictable improvisation. Throughout the years, and in all the different styles, those are the qualities that defined jazz.
爵士樂有其適當的理由被稱為美國的古典音樂。與它的前身藍調一樣，它是第一個真正的在美國發展的本土音樂形式之一，但其調性莫測，大膽不假思索的即興創作正是藍調樂手們所缺乏的樂風速寫。爵士樂發展初始，是由搖擺大樂隊演奏的跳舞音樂。不久，舞蹈元素蛻變為幕後襯景，即興演繹成為樂曲關鍵的音素。隨著流派演變，音樂分成多個不同風格，從快感，重打擊樂節奏的咆踍爵士及輕鬆悠閒柔美和聲的酷(冷)爵士 到以顫抖、無調的打擊樂嘗試為主的自由爵士和樸實意味濃烈的靈魂爵士，它是以藍調為基底。一組相互影響演奏團體和無法預測的即興表演組合而成。行之多年後，融合所有迥異風格，確立了爵士樂的特質。 (Charlene Yeh)