Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Jazz | Introduction | Jazzbelly

Week 16 | Jazz | Contents

Tuesday | Poetry | A Year of Wider Reading
Wednesday | Fiction | Is That Jazz?
Thursday | Music | Jazz = Pedalo

Jazz music is an intensified feeling of nonchalance.
Francoise Sagan

If it has more than three chords, it's jazz.
Lou Reed

Jazz like many things that holds a certain primacy, can be seen as many things. Difficult to define as it is one of those ideas that causes definitions to spring from feeling as opposed to fact – which is all good and well but if we take Van Morrison’s words on the matter “The point of jazz is, you do something and then you go on.” We don’t get much closer to an answer. However, Joachim Berendt takes a more factual root, which may not answer ‘what’ it is, but does answer ‘what’ it is.

Berendt defines jazz as a "form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music"; he goes on to state that jazz differs from European music in that jazz has a "special relationship to time, defined as 'swing'", "a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role"; and "sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician".

Thus out of the rags of ragtime, through Dixieland, Bepop, avant-garde jazz, and jazz funk –Jazzercise was born.

Founded in 1969 by Judi Sheppard Missett of Evanston, Illinois – the programme (evidently by it’s great success) stuck a certain chord – one of those ones that hold’s a certain primacy I’d wager. Mrs Missett started Jazzercise after noting a 90% drop out rate of  her classes – 100% wanted to lose weight, 10% did. So what she did was take out the ‘form’ mirrors that usually lined the walls – leading a practice of shapelessness to get into shape. I don’t think you can ever say that Jazzercise is the best way to lose weight, it is one of those things that causes definitions to spring from feeling as opposed to fact, but if Van Morrison ever attended a class, I’m sure he’s say “The point of Jazzercise is, you do something and then you go on

This week will be mostly be talking about Jazz.

James Harringman

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