Jazz Embarks the Lifeline of New York

From “Fly Me to the Moon” to “Take Five,” New York City has been a unique hub for jazz artists, jazz lovers, and anyone who wants to dance to its notes since 1912. Jazz is a complex form of music that uses improvisation and syncopation. The movement of jazz began in New Orleans where African American artists incorporated their culture into American music.

The 1920s marked the beginning of the Jazz Age in New York City. Jazz became popular by the mid-1920s when major Jimmy Walker allowed speakeasies to sell alcohol and artists to express themselves in these places. Racial injustice at the time led to the promotion of Caucasian American jazz artists over African American jazz artists on the radio. It resonated well with what defines American culture today because of its freestyle movements. It mimics the American right to freedom of expression. During the civil rights movement, jazz has been used to speak up upon racial inequality and imprisonment issues. It influenced fashion on women who preferred cutting their hair short like men.

Muhal Richard Abrams, a Chicago native, moved to New York City experimenting with free jazz with his dancing fingertips on the piano. He started his career performing gigs at church and some stage shows. He studied music composition from books written by Joseph Schillinger. His versatility in jazz allowed him to expand his work in multiple philharmonic settings and received the Jazzpar prize in 1990 from Denmark where they commemorate outstanding work in jazz music and composition. He is one among many artists who went to New York City to thrive in its artistic hub, a resemblance of jazz itself where its freeform music embodies the endless imagination of an artist.

What makes jazz astonishing is the fact that it is an improvised team effort. An artist must be able to listen to each other and jump in the melody at any will while harmonizing with the existing melody. The musicians have to support each other and be flexible around each other as the music speedingly changes. Oscar Peterson, a Canadian jazz pianist, once said, “It’s the group sound that’s important, even when you’re playing a solo. You not only have to know your own instrument, you must know the others and how to back them up at all times. That’s jazz.”

Even with the changing trends of music, jazz continues coming back home to New York City, stimulating people’s minds as they listen to it. In the past many decades, jazz has faced a history of economic and social decline, but its heart continues to reward those who seek meaning in its music or for those who simply want to listen to something nice on a nice Saturday evening.


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