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             What is Jazz?        

Links for the recorded live-stream presentations:
Part I
Thursday Sept. 16, 2021  & 
Part 2​   Fri. Sept. 17, 2021  CST

I.     What is Jazz?… Part 1
origins and definitions

… a musical style, a repertoire and a way of life

Basic Questions to be addressed: 


When:  Late 1800’s  1st jazz recording 1917  Original Dixieland Jazz Band 

(jazz band from Chicago recorded in NYC)

Where  New Orleans- is widely considered the birthplace of jazz


II.  Who & What?   

a.  African music

b.  Ragtime & Stride piano

c.  Gospel & Spirituals

d.  Brass Bands & American Marches

e.  Hymn tunes & other European music 

f.   American Popular Songs (like Stephen Foster)

G. Latin music 

H.  Afro-Cuban music  (African & Brazilian/ South American cultures mixed) 

I.   Blues 

J.  Mnistrel Shows/ music 
k.  Creoles 


Jelly Roll Morton “Tiger Rag”  


III.  How did jazz come about?  

a.  party atmosphere

b.  diverse cultures

c.  need for dance and entertainment music 

d.  (very) long parades 


Original Dixeland Jazz Band
 “Original Dixieland One Step” 


IV.  What separates jazz from other music? 

a.  swing -  (swing vs. straight 8th notes) -

“triplet feel” 

b.  blues notes, tone color accents and articulations 

c.  extended solo improvisations and collective improvisation 

d.  the ability to assimilate and transform other styles. - limitless 

e.  self expression- encouraged! 

V.  How is jazz performed?

a.  the role of the instruments:

— where the pulse comes from (bass & drums)

— chord instruments & “comping”  

— who plays the melody? 

b.  the importance of improvisation 

— solo & 

— collective improv. by the rhythm section) 

c.  the role of form


Basic 12 Bar Blues  “Blues For Maria” (demonstration)

32 bar standard form  AABA  “Take the A Train

VI. What are some different

sub-styles of jazz & How do they differ from basic swing?  
(demonstration)  "Girl From Ipanema

a.  Latin (straight 8ths)"So Danco Samba"

— bossa nova  

— samba

— + plus all the various Latin dance styles like mambo, & rhumba, salsa etc. 


b.  Rock, Soul, Funk + R. & B. (straight 8ths)

VII.  How do jazz musicians learn?

a.  practicing and studying their instrument

b.  imitation (not a bad thing here!)  

c.  new era of jazz books & play-along recordings +

d.  online teaching + 

e.  the traditional methods- learning “by ear” & mentoring 

f.   transcribing solos and learning them  

Jazz in America Timeline link:


Another view w/ pop up summaries

More..jazz for kids- including the Smithsonian's
"What is Jazz?" site

Further Study:

Mark Gridley-
"Jazz Styles History & Analysis"

Charles Mingus

"Beneath the Underdog"

Dexter Gordon

"Sophisticated Giant" (book)

and the movie  "'Round Midnight"

Billy Strayhorn

"Lush Life" 

Duke Ellington

"Music Is My Mistress"

Duke Ellington

"Music Is My Mistress"

Charlie Parker

"Bird Lives"
book & movie

Selections for Part One

Warm up and Intro.
“Freddie the Freeloader”

Swing & Rhythm Section Concepts
“Blues for Maria”

AABA form
“Take The A Train”

Latin styles
“Girl From Ipanema”  bossa
“So Danco Samba"  samba  

Funk- & straight 8th styles
“Blues for Maria”  … funky

What is Jazz?  … Part 2 
Live Jazz Set Livstream  Part 2
watch the livestream Fri. Sept. 17 1:30 pm CST

Set List for the Live Jazz Set

1.  "Freddie The Freeloader" 

(12 bar blues- swing- Miles Davis)

2.  “Autumn Leaves" 
(32 bar AABA - swing - Johny Mercer

3.  “Black Orpheus

("Orfeu Negro") by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá ” Latin Bossa Nova AA form 


4.  "The Lady is A Tramp"
Rodgers & Hart
(up tempo AABA swing 

5.  “One Note Samba”

by Antonio Carlos Jobim 
(32 bar AABA up tempo Samba)

6.  “Stella By Starlight”
Victor Young  ballad tempo

7.  “Big River Bossa”

John Paulson
(smooth jazz?  Latin Rock) 

8.  “Take The A Train”
Billy Strayhorn- Duke Ellington band
32 bar up tempo Swing  AABA 

Encore:  “In Walked Bud”  

(all subject to change!)

John Paulson Quintet -
"What is Jazz" Part 1 & II
John C. Paulson, tenor sax & Bb flute
Scott Gerry, guitar
Eric Heukeshoven, keys
Eric Graham, bass
Miles Johnston, drums 


John C. Paulson is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural

heritage fund.  

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