There are several skills and qualities that make a gentleman. We believe one of these is Jazz.
Jazz is as classic and timeless as it can get. Jazzy gents are usually seen to be well dressed in suits and the origin of suits is pretty much around the same time as the origin of Jazz. These two go hand in hand.
Jazz first originated in the 1920s, spanning the 1940’s and finally the 1960’s after which both Jazz and the trend of suits faded. The 1970’s were a new era with a lot of experimentation in music, fashion and lifestyle leading to a change in the way men dressed and the music they listened to as well.
Despite the decline in the taste for Jazz, there is still a very royal following of this beautiful soulful music. In fact in recent years, we have seen an increased interest in the finer things in life such as Jazz. These days Jazz is a symbol of class, good taste and fame/popularity. Well dressed men and women who enjoy the finer things in life love to indulge themselves in Jazz because it is a fine combination of everything that defines good music, good ambience and good company. Jazz is music for the soul after all.
Therefore, in our opinion, Jazz defines a gentleman as well. Jazz has stood the test of time and has still emerged as one of the classiest genres of music to listen to, just like a gentleman. Men change, lifestyles change, fashion changes, but in the end, the best man standing is a gentleman.
Here is a history of how Jazz originated and flourished in London/world for those who would like to know more 🙂 Enjoy!
The origins of Jazz
Jazz originated in United States in the 19th – 20th centuries amongst the African-American communities. It is a combination of African-European melodies which gives it that extra oomph. African music naturally has a lot of feel, rhythm and soul in it. It’s an immersive experience and we know this because we have listened to lots of African genres, trust us on this. (Last summer saw Covent Garden hosting an African festival featuring some of the best African musicians, which ofcourse we attended). European music is more classical, has structure, chords, composition and ofcourse most of the standard music instruments used in Jazz bands. A combination of these two genres led to the rise of the masterpiece that is now the genre that we call Jazz.
The first version of Jazz that evolved was the Blues in the 1800’s. This music sprouted during the times of slavery and injustice in the South of United States. This music reflects misery, heavy-heartedness, loss of love and despair. We believe it must have been the sort of music that got those in slavery through the hard times. Blues is still very famous today and still evolving. The 1900’s saw the birth of Louis Armstrong, the godfather of Jazz and our favourite Jazz singer Armstrong shifted the focus from collective improvisation, where all the instrumentalists soloed at once, to solo performance. This is now the basis for Jazz, as we know it.
After the great depression, came swing which does not fail to get us off our seats. It was during these 1930s that Jazz begun to become popular in Britain. Jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington performed in London. However, the jazz culture within UK was such that jazz musicians played afterhours in bars whereby they were encouraged to jam in exchange for drinks. In the 1940’s, jazz developed in bebop which was a more complex form of music with faster tempos and intricate melodies for listening audiences. It was developed by Jazz artists as they looked for a different direction to challenge themselves and was a less popular form of commercial music.
In Britain, after world war 2, music became more popular including Jazz. Famous musicians such as Ronnie Scott began a movement towards modern Jazz. Several new clubs were established in London in the 1950’s such as the Flamingo club. Following mass emigration, Jazz music began to also fuse with Afro-Carribbean rhythms.
The London Jazz Festival
In the 1970’s, the Jazz center society was founded which was a national center of focus for jazz musicians. During this time, a jazz festival was added to the Camden Festival. In the early 1990’s, the Camden festival was no more and a separate festival for Jazz was put into place to recognise the place of Jazz in London. This was the London Jazz Festival, which typically spans a week.
Last year, the London Jazz Festival was held from 13th – 22nd November and featured several Jazz artists from UK, USA as well as Europe and Africa. We had the pleasure of witnessing a performance by the Angolan band, Parakuka, which fuses Angolan music with Jazz. It was one of the best live Jazz performances we have been to for several reasons. Angolan music varies with different genres, however, one of their popular music genres is Semba. This genre of Semba gave rise to the Brazilian music and dance, Samba. So you can imagine what we mean when we say it was a party night – we simply couldn’t help but get up and dance. Angolan music is also very slow and sensual (usually used in the dance Kizomba). This kind of music accompanied with Jazz is hair-raising. Secondly, not only did we get to see the traditional instruments such as the saxophone, drums and piano but also atleast another 10 different types of African instruments.
Several venues such as the Barbican and Royal Festival Hall featured an entire day of Free Jazz music showcasing Jazz musicians, such as Colin Webster and Lionel Loueke. Several famous venues such as Cadogan Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, Soho Pizza Express and the King’s Place hosted Jazz musicians such as Alfredo Rodriguez, Kurt Elling, Manu Katche, Daniel Herskedal amongst others. For us the highlight was Hiromi, a prodigiously-talented Japanese pianist who is phenomenal.
There are always several Jazz events around London every week. These tend to be held at the famous Jazz venues such as the Vortex, 606 club, Ronnie Scotts etc. There is something for everyone with ofcourse the highlight of the year being the London Jazz festival.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the origins of Jazz and what the scene of Jazz in London is like. We have several posts coming up of the other qualities that make a gentleman so watch this space!