History of Jazz and Blues in America

Over the course of history it can be argued that jazz is the most influential form of music in American pop culture. Growing out of a mix of gospel, ragtime, blues and marching band music of the early twentieth century, jazz had clearly arrived in the roaring twenties as a form of music that was here to stay. In the thirties and forties big band music had taken over the mainstream, as an outgrowth of jazz. It is often this era when people think of the legends of jazz, which include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra and many others.

In the fifties the influence of the "beat generation" ushered in an era of progressive offbeat jazz that has continued through the present in some shape or form. In the sixties, jazz began to branch out in many directions from the pop sounds of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass to the more ambient sound of Miles Davis to the experimentation of Dave Brubeck.

By the seventies jazz became engrained in many forms of contemporary music. In the pop world there was Chicago and Tower of Power. Jazz also fused with rock with Blood, Sweat & Tears and War. Jazzy horns could also frequently be heard in soul music by artists like Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind & Fire. And let's not forget how the sound of disco was based on jazz arrangements, especially in hits such as "Love To Love You Baby" by Donna Summer and "The Hustle" by Van McCoy.

By the eighties pop, rock and soul continued to feature jazz licks. Emerging near the end of the decade were new jazz radio formats known as "smooth jazz" and "new age." Sade is a definitive smooth jazz artist as Enya is very representative of new age. One of the biggest hits of the nineties was a blend of jazz/rock/soul/salsa/blues called "Smooth" by Santana, from the Supernatural album that went on to sell over 12 million units. In the 2000s jazz lives on in many forms. The most popular jazz heard every day is the "Smooth Jazz" radio format, which is a mix of saxophone-driven jazz and jazz-flavored pop and r&b music.

Smooth Jazz Pop Songs 1970s-2000s
Jazz Instrumentals 1955-1999

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