Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing multi-part question and need the explanation and answer to help me learn.
Discussion 8 – Hip-Hop & Jazz
After fusing with rock and funk, the next logical step for jazz was to fuse with other forms of popular music. Throughout the 1980s we saw jazz artists dabbling with various forms of 1980s pop, most of it ending up sounding kind of cheesy. But, in the late-80s and early-90s, some jazz performers started to collaborate and cross-pollinate with folks from the emerging hi-hop scene.
Jazz and hip-hop are quite similar in many ways, and these early collaborations show how natural of a fit these two styles are. Here are two excellent examples:
Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) by Us3 (released in 1993)
This song features a sample of Cantaloupe Island by Herbie Hancock as well as a great (improvised) trumpet solo. Us3 was something of a one-hit-wonder with this song, but it is an excellent example of how smooth the transition between jazz and hip-hop can be. (Also of importance: Us3 was signed to Blue Note records, the same record label as Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, and its of other great jazz musicians from the early-1960s. Blue Note is a jazz label through and through, so the fact that they signed a hip-hop group is telling.)
Buggin Out by A Tribe Called Quest (released in 1991)
The album The Low End Theory features Ron Carter on bass (from Miles Daviss Second Great Quintet), with the song Buggin Out being one of the more popular songs from the album. Here we hear, again, how easily jazz grooves and vocabulary can fit inside hip-hop. (The part that features Ron Carter starts at about 3:35.)
Can you find other examples of jazz mixing with hip-hop (or other popular music styles)? Are there any current artists that you know that are dabbling in (or more!) jazz styles?
Please post a link to a video that shows us some new jazz-pop fusions.
Research Project – Current Players
Of course, jazz is still around. There are lots of people still playing jazz gigs, recording jazz albums, and innovating to keep the style relevant. It has been a long time since jazz was popular, but that certainly doesnt mean it is dead or even that it isnt still developing.
Who is out there?
In Ted Gioias book How To Listen To Jazz he gives us a really useful list of current jazz musicians. He calls this list The Elite 150 of Early- and Mid-Career Jazz Masters; this is, according to him, the 150 most important currently-working jazz musicians in the world. Some of these folks are pretty far into their careers (some have been performing for 30+ years) while others are quite new. Take a look at the list. Its on pp. 225230 in How To Listen To Jazz.
Much of jazzs magic comes from the fact that it is a mixture of written and oral traditions. The master-apprentice relationship goes pretty deep into how jazz has developed and operated over the last century. King Oliver mentored Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker mentored Miles Davis. Miles Davis mentored several people.
The same is likely true for members of this Elite 150. Chances are, if we look closely at their training and experience, we will find similar relationships. And, it is quite likely that we can trace their lineage back to masters of the past.
Here is an example:
- One of my first bass teachers was a man named Marshall Hawkins.
- Marshall Hawkins was briefly a member of Miles Daviss band
- Thus, I can trace my jazz lineage back to Miles Davis with only a couple of steps.
Or, we could represent it this way:
Miles Davis Marshall Hawkins Taylor Smith
Now, I was incredibly lucky to have Marshall as a teacher. It was purely luck, honestly. But, its still kind of cool that I can claim this lineage.
I would like you to do a small research project about someone on Gioias Elite 150 list (pp. 225230 of How To Listen To Jazz). First, please write a paragraph or two describing who the person is, what instrument(s) they play, some information about their output (how many albums have they recorded, etc.), and a brief description of their music in general (can you place inside or adjacent to any of the styles we have already talked about). Then, I would like you to see what information you can find about this persons lineage. Who were their teachers? Their teachers teachers? How many steps backward do you need to take to get to someone we might have talked about in this class?
So, your assignment will look like this:
- Pick someone from the Elite 150 list
- Write a few paragraphs explaining who this person is, including
- What instrument(s) they play
- Where they are located (geographically)
- Info about their output (how many albums, etc.)
- An attempt to place their music inside or adjacent to one of the styles we have already discussed
- A section that describes the persons lineage. This could be
- A family tree diagram
- A list, organized chronologically, tracing the person back to someone super prominent (someone weve already mentioned in this class)