Updated: Oct 1, 2021
It is high time someone explained the different genres in Jazz. Meanwhile…
THE BLUES Probably the most basic influence on jazz, comprised of no more than three chords and the perfidy of women. All of it sung with a fake sincerity, often in a fake American accent to make it sound authentic. Apparently.
JAZZ STANDARDS The term is an ironic one, describing the constitutional inability of your average muso to play the same thing twice. There are actually few standards amongst Jazz Musicians, and all of them are low.
Jazz standards use four or even five chords, and were written some time between 1933 and1948, a time when most sensible people would be staying home to watch the advertisements on pay TV. The genre is defined by the use of walking tenths in the bass line, or staggering quarters if the bottleshop will still give you credit; and by the soloist swinging – preferably from a rope attached to the rafters, but I digress.
BEBOP Another ironic term, describing the constitutional inability of your average bebop muso to play the same thing once. If you slow it down and play Bebop backwards, it doesn’t sound any worse. Spooky, or what!
POST BEBOP This genre cannot be called ironic at all, as most adherents struggle with words of more than one syllable. It does not refer to jazz music that has been learnt by mail order. No one has ever listened to the end of a post bebop composition – because it doesn’t have one, it just fades away when the jazz club goes broke.
FREE JAZZ Jazz that is so dissonant and repetitive that no one will pay for it. The entire enrolment of University Jazz Courses is said to be working on extending this to the point where people will pay for it (on condition that it stops immediately.) If successful, they will be able to go and get a job teaching trombone in a High School one year earlier than the previous intake (see note below). Progress is a wondrous thing.
SHOWTUNES Ah, the most sublime music of all – saccharine romantic ballads. Showtunes have a timeless quality, at least when played by the Jammers, and we only pick them to see if we can get Colonel T off the stage.
Footnote: The enrolment at a University is called an intake. Each year around Melbourne about 100 Students are taken in by Jazz courses. Only to discover that there are no jobs at the end of it, other than teaching trombone in a High School. Far better to have studied Accounting or Quantity Surveying. There are no jobs in those disciplines either, but at least the pay is better.