Does jazz even exist?

Is jazz even a things? Does jazz even exist? If it doesn’t, then what’s all that noise? Let’s find out! The video is only 3 minutes and is an easy watch. If you do watch it, please let us know what you think in the YouTube comments.

Jazz does not exist in the sense of being a thing. To quote the great Australian jazz drummer and educator, John Morrison, 

jazz isn’t a “what”, it’s a “how”.

Jazz is a way of playing music. Some of the implications of this are:

  1. There are no “jazz tunes” or “jazz pieces”. Anything can be played in a jazz style, but it isn’t jazz unless it is played in a jazz way. Jazz is a verb, as in ‘to jazz a tune’.
  2. There are no “jazz chords”. Various styles of jazz make heavy use of certain types and sounds of chords, but that doesn’t make them jazz. They become part of jazz when they are used in a jazz way.
  3. When learning jazz, you are learning a way of playing music, a way of performing and interpreting. You learn procedures, techniques, theory, styles, approaches, and so on. Of course, there are tunes often played as jazz and you’ll be learning those too.
  4. There’s no “classical technique” or “jazz technique” per se. Usually, when people say technique, they are referring to the way of operating a musical instrument. Different techniques can create different sounds. Jazz musicians within a given style tend to play their instruments in similar ways – that’s part of what makes a style a thing, after all.

So does jazz even exist? In a very real sense it does not, at least not until a musician brings it into being by playing something in a jazz way.

Stand by for a more detailed explanation. but for now, think of jazz as like the difference between a script and a conversation.

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