The Crusader Online

April 11, 2014
Vol. 55 No. 21

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Writer gets jazzed up

Jazz is often dismissed by younger generations unfairly, and as messenger of all things hip and musical, I am here to give it the credit it deserves.
Jazz music is defined by its free form and improvisational nature, criteria that encompasses a variety far beyond Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" and Gene Krupa's "Sing, Sing, Sing!" both of which are often delegated as representatives of the genre.
According to the jazz laypeople, Miles Davis is the musician who took the music to a more accessible level with his album "Bitches Brew" released in 1970.
The album had a tremendous impact in both jazz and mainstream arenas, for it featured the best artists in jazz music at the time performing a fusion of improvisational rock and roll, electronic music and avant-garde jazz.
Rap and hip-hop have often sampled and reinvigorated jazz music. Us3 famously revived Herbie Hancock with their 1993 hit "Cantaloop."
While adding dramatic hip-hop beats and intelligent lyrics to Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island," Us3 established a sub-genre jazz hop, which is the most accepted form of jazz to the masses.
Artists like J Dilla, Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets and De La Soul are all worthwhile jazz hop artists to start with.
Aside from the previously mentioned artists, one should get their feet wet with something familiar: the soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas," then explore the unknown with John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan, then the bizarre with Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus.
To summarize, jazz is cool. It is more than just 50-year-old white guys in suits playing music to which only our grandmothers like to dance.
Jazz is characterized by its expressiveness more so than the content of the notes on the paper.

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