Rock N Roll High School: jazz appreciation month

Did you know that April is Jazz Appreciation Month? We couldn’t help but chat about the history of jazz and its wide reaching impact on modern music.


The earliest appearances of jazz came from New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century. During this time, the port city was a melting pot of cultures, offering a unique opportunity for musical exchange between artists.

The new sound was  characterized by swing and blue notes, complex chords, call-and-response vocals, and improvisation.

The earliest known versions of jazz were a product of African American musicians such as Scott Joplin and Buddy Bolden. It was quickly gained momentum and influenced performers spanning races.


Jazz differed from other musical styles of the time because of the freedom it allowed musicians. It’s been called the “sound of surprise” because of the genre’s flexibility and improvisation.

From its beginnings, jazz has gone through many phases. At times, it has been the dominant musical style of pop music. Sometimes it is seen solely as a form of high art to be analyzed.

Throughout all of its own ebbs and flows, jazz has continuously influenced other types of music.

In an article for Flypaper, Elyadeen Anbar shared three modern songs with a strong jazz influence. Let’s take a listen!

Honey Pie by The Beatles

This song borrows its style from big band swing sounds like those of Duke Ellington, incorporating an AABA format established in jazz. The addition of its clarinet backgrounds, harmony, and laid-back feel all combine to create a jazzy atmosphere.

Time by Pink Floyd

In this song’s notable guitar solo, David Gilmour utilizes a palette of notes much in the way a jazz musician would. Also, the experimental structure is a callback to free-roaming jazz framework.

Believe by Q-Tip

This song features a jazz-inspired turnaround, a series of chord changes that lead seamlessly to the next section. In this example, the turnaround is isolated, sampled, and looped to give a new sonic landscape to work with.

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