Jazz Appreciation


Improvisation, the immediate creation of the melody, is central to the art of jazz. Improvisation is often compared to storytelling. Improvisers use vocabulary to tell a story when they create a solo.

Artists mentioned: Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk.

Songs mentioned: Bye-bye black bird.

Listening to Jazz

Some things to notice about music: character, speed, what aspects of the music affect your perception of its character, how many instruments are there.

Artists mentioned: Miles Davis.

Songs mentioned: So What? from the album Kind of Blue. One O'Clock Jump.

Improving Listening Skills

Some things that help to identify different jazz songs: instrumentation, tempo, repetition, sound of soloist.

Songs mentioned:

"Moanin'" - Art Blakey - Hard Bop "Song For My Father" - Horace Silver - Hard Bop "Take Five" - Dave Brubeck - Cool "Shaw 'Nuff" - Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker "One O'Clock Jump" (1956) - Count Basie - Swing

How Jazz Works


A melody is a group of single pitches. In jazz, melodies can be pre-composed or improvised.The jazz slang for a pre-composed melody is “head”. Jazz musicians manipulate a wide number of musical elements (speed, shape etc.) to create a variety of effects.


The motion between chords in a song is called harmony, or “changes”. Certain forms used in jazz have a specific chord progression associated with them. Improvisers communicate harmony during solos by playing arpeggios.

Artists: George Gershwin

Bands: The Birth of Cool

Songs: Boplicity, I’ve got rhythm

Albums: “Giant Steps” John Coltrane

Music Form

Form is the overall structure of a piece of music. Two of the most common forms in jazz are the blues and AABA form. In blues format is often statement/repetition/commentary. In AABA form A sections are similar while B section is different.

Songs: Joe Williams “Every Day I have the Blues”, “Blues for JB” UT Faculty Jazz Band.


Two most common rhythmic feels used in jazz are swing and “even 8th”. Swing rhythmic feel features a walking bass and a drum pattern with uneven 8th notes heard in the ride cymbal. Even 8th rhythmic feel features a repetitive bass line and even placement of notes.

Songs: Duke Ellington “It Don't Mean a Thing”. Horace Silver “Song for my Father”.

Syncopation and cross-rhythm

Syncopation - rhythms in surprising places, paced against the steady puls of the rhythm section. Cross-rhythm - one rhythmic group is placed on top of another, often groups of three notes versus groups of two notes in rhythm section. Melodies weave in and out of them to create tension and interest in music.

Players: Charlie Parker, Lois Armstrong, Sonny Rolins Songs: Louis Armstrong "Hoter Than That", Sonny Rolins "Pent-Up House"

Jazz History Overview

Early Jazz - Louis Armstrong - Trumpet Swing - Duke Ellington - Piano/Composer Bebop - Charlie Parker - Alto Saxophone Cool Jazz - Miles Davis/Dave Brubeck Hard Bop - Art Blakey/Miles Davis Modal/Free Jazz - Miles Davis/John Coltrane Fusion - Herbie Hancock/Miles Davis Neoclassical Jazz - Wynton Marsalis

Jazz Eras

Early Jazz - Louis Armstrong - 1900s-1920s Swing Era - Duke Ellington - 1930s Bebop - Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie - 1940s Cool Jazz - Miles Davis/Dave Brubeck - early 1950s Hard Bop - Art Blakey/Miles Davis - late 1950s Modal/Free Jazz - Miles Davis/John Coltrane - 1960s Fusion - Herbie Hancock/Miles Davis - 1970s Neoclassical Jazz - Wynton Marsalis - 1980s

Instruments of the Jazz Band

Rhythm section

The rhythm section consists of bass, drum, piano, guitar.

Front line

individual representation introduction of melody do not play continiously quintet hard bob

trumpet may be solo instrument plays the melody bold and strong modern can be soft mutes flugelhorn, mellow version of trumpet

saxophone solo instrument resembles human voice may be played softly, aggressively families: soprano, tenor, alto

trombone much bigger than trumphet smearing between notes tailgate trombone trombone section

big band quintet other front line instruments: flute, violine some groups have only rhythm players

The Hard Bop Era

The Players and Features

Players: Art Blakey with Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, Miles Davis with Hard Bop band, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Moanin’ amen cords AABA Lee Morgan blue note blues + bebop blues for A section bebop for B section solos can interact one with another

Songs: Blues March, Cranky Spanky

Horace Silver

was member of Art Blakey Horace Silver Quintet Blue Note Label gospel influence amen cords call and response aggressive comping melodic sense trading

Album: Blown the Blues Away Songs: The Preacher, Sister Sadie, Son for My Father

Miles Davis

4 albums in 2 days. Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, Steamin’. blues form just a little behind the bit break less is more middle range of his instrument space

Song: Trane’s Blues, When the Saints Go Marching In, If I Were a Bell,

Stars of Hard Bop

Cannonball Adderley

Cannonball Adderly was an alto saxophonist. His improvisations featured a combination of lues vocabulary with energetic bebop technique.

Artists mentioned: Cannonball Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Ray Charles.

Albums mentioned: Miles Davis "Kind of Blue”, Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else, Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago.

Songs mentioned: “Work Song” from “Cannonball Adderley Live”, “Mercy Mercy Mercy” from “Mercy Mercy Mercy”, “Walk Tall”.

Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown

Sonny Rollins was a tenor saxophonist, a master of motivic development. Clifford Brown was a trumphet player who had impressive technical ability and articulation.

Songs mentioned: Pent-Up House, Cherokee, St. Thomas Albums mentioned: Sonny Rollins Plus 4, Saxophone Collosus Artists mentioned: Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Smith