Good Reasons to Know About Jazz
“When they study our civilization two thousand years from now, there will be three things that Americans will be known for; the Constitution, baseball and jazz music. They’re the three most beautiful things Americans have ever created.” – Gerald Early, American writer and essayist
It’s Part of Who We Are
Jazz is an American musical phenomenon that embodies America’s inventiveness and our spirit of change. Deeply engrained in our culture, it has changed forever how we hear tone, perceive rhythm and express ourselves artistically. The Joint Houses of Congress recognized its cultural significance in 1987, declaring jazz to be an American National Treasure.
It Reflects the Black American Experience
The story of jazz mirrors America’s own history, beginning with the forced migration of eleven million Africans to the New World as slaves. In colonial America, West African and European musical traditions intertwined and each American decade added its own layer of complexity to the music. Through most of the 20th Century, jazz evolved predominantly from one cultural group’s experience, Americans of African descent. It is a “pearl” resulting from decades of human suffering and an ongoing struggle for freedom, dignity and self-expression.
It’s Alive and Ongoing
Jazz is a tradition in progress, having shaped and been shaped by classical, blues, R & B, country, rock, gospel, funk, Latin, African, Far Eastern, pop, folk, rap, hip hop, etc. Often more about how musicians approach their music than what they play, jazz continues to grow as an art form and an influence on contemporary culture.
It’s a Global Language
Jazz was introduced to the world post World War I with its export to Europe by military jazz bands comprised of African American soldiers. Since then, jazz has become a soundtrack for our modern world and persons from every ethnicity, religion and culture converse in the language of jazz.