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Jazz Forms - Post Modernism

Diversity is the word most often used to describe the state of jazz in the '80's. Old forms coexisted with new, and experimentation brought many styles together in countless combinations. Joachim Berendt quotes Lester Bowie in The Jazz Book [p. 49] as saying, "We are trying to take what has gone before, mill it around in our minds, add some of us to it and then: This is our vision of what has happened." Free jazz, free funk, classicism, neoclassicism, no wave, fusion, world music, and even the beginnings of acid jazz filled the musical landscape. Two artists point out the range of this diversity in the '80's: Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis.

In the beginning of the decade, Miles began gathering fusion musicians and exploring new ways of making music. The recording of Tutu in 1986 broke new ground by bringing together eclectic elements and musicians. The recording process began without any music being written beforehand, allowing for the spontaneity usually associated with free jazz. Advanced technology permeated every facet of the work, from the layering of music tracks to programming synthesizers for new sounds. Marcus Miller, a musician well versed in pop music as well as jazz, was involved in every phase of the project, and hearing the trumpet sound of a jazz icon, Miles Davis, in the midst of it all produced a unique snapshot of the healthy state of modern jazz.

Wynton Marsalis, 35 years younger than Miles, receives much of the credit for neoclassicism in jazz. Wynton's music would probably not be mistaken for jazz of an earlier day, but the principles forming the music are clearly founded on the structural elements of swing and bebop. A good example of this is his tune Hesitation, released in 1981. The form and harmonic structure is clearly Rhythm Changes, a common bebop progression, but the melody is angular and rhythmic in a thoroughly modern way.

These two jazz trumpeters represent the immense possibilities of modern jazz. The older of the two men pushed forward into the future at each phase of his career, while the younger looked back to the past to draw his inspiration. Jazz continues this dual perspective to this day, and shows a music vital, healthy and growing; one which will be a part of our world for the foreseeable future.  [top]

- article by Frank Singer 2002



Jazz Origins
I - Beginnings 
II - Jazz and Technology
III - Radio and the Industrial Beat    
The Swing Era
I - Precursors
II - The Decade of Swing
III - The BeBop Strain
A First Look Back
New Orleans Revival

Jazz Forms

The Blues
The 32 bar Song Form
The Latin Influence
Hard Bop
Evolution 1 - A New Dialogue
Evolution 2 - Into The Seventies
Evolution Of The Jam Session
Post Modernism



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