Jazz in America in the 1960s

  Speaking of jazz, it belongs to a genre of music that is both familiar and mysterious to Chinese lovers. We can hear it in old movies, feel its existence in airports or hotels, and appreciate it in concert halls. The style, but the jazz we hear is often of different styles and genres, it seems difficult to understand its full picture. How does jazz come about? What kind of changes have been experienced in the middle? Why are there differences between various types of jazz? This article introduces the development of American jazz in the 1960s and introduces some important factors in the development of this art.
From fringe music to cultural representation: the development of jazz after World War II

  Jazz emerged in the New Orleans area of ​​Florida at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a form of music popular among southern blacks. It combines the traditional blues music, spiritual songs and answer songs popular among black slaves. It was originally mainly in the city. Performed in bars and brothels in black communities. Compared with traditional Western music, jazz emphasizes improvisation and personal performance, so it has long been regarded as a “barbaric and primitive music” by the mainstream music industry. By the 1920s, the Great Depression in the United States caused a large number of agricultural populations to lose their jobs. , Had to go to the city to find work. After nightfall, a large number of such people concentrated in bars and dance halls in the city, using dance and illegal alcoholic beverages to dispel the feelings of loss. A group of jazz musicians seized this opportunity and developed the so-called “swing music”, playing dance music with jazz styles in bars and dance halls in the form of a large orchestra, and combined with Latin American music styles. The style of swing music is more modest, mainly in unison, with improvisation by the musicians. Swing music caters to the cheerful, optimistic and casual personality of Americans. Swing music is a smash hit, and a number of well-known swing orchestras, including Duke Wellington, Benny Goodman, and Woody Holman, are very popular. Records and concerts are hot, and some of the talented performers and singers, including trumpeter Louis Armstrong, female singer Ella Fisgerald and others, have become celebrities in the American literature and art circles. However, at this time, jazz is still regarded as a kind of racial music to entertain the masses and is excluded from mainstream culture.

Louis Armstrong and Ella Fisgerald

  After the beginning of the Second World War, swing music was greatly affected. The country began to levy taxes, and the burden of big bands became heavier. Many musicians were enlisted in the army. The haze made people not in the mood to visit the ballroom, so the big bands disbanded one after another, and some of the artists had to make a living on their own. But during this period, jazz began the “modernization movement”, and some large cities in the Northeast, such as New York and Chicago, replaced New Orleans and became the center of jazz. Centered on 52nd Street in New York, USA, a group of small jazz bands began to perform. The style is very different from the swing music that pleases the public, called “Bebop”. Its characteristic is that there is no complete music score (often only on a 64-open exercise book-sized piece of paper, simply jot down the basic melody, which has also become the tradition of contemporary jazz performance), emphasizes the artist’s improvisation, and is faster. The melody is unpredictable, and the tunes are complex and harmonious. It has begun to attract a group of white middle-class listeners with higher artistic accomplishments. Among them are the trumpeter “Hyun” Gillespie, and the saxophone player Charlie Parker. , Pianists Art Tarten and Solonis Munch, these musicians have extremely high skills, their music recognition is very high, such as Gillespie’s high-speed performance of a 128th note, Tatum’s silky melody or the shock when Munch struck the keys strongly, these highly personalized performances and live improvisations brought great artistic enjoyment to the audience.
  Since the 1950s, the fate of modern jazz has undergone a qualitative change. After the beginning of the Cold War, the United States and European countries signed a strategic military alliance and confronted the Soviet Union. The Cold War is not only a military check and balance, but also an ideological output. In this process, the United States lags far behind Europe in terms of culture and art. Therefore, it is hoped that a cultural form with distinctive American characteristics can be formed. The gunsmoke has the upper hand in the cultural war. As a unique culture born and raised in the United States, modern jazz is just up to this role. With the support of the US government, “Bebop” artists stepped out of their cultural stronghold and began to receive attention from Europe and Asia. In March 1956, the U.S. State Department dispatched Gillespie to the Middle East and the Balkans for a ten-week tour. Since then, the “jazz diplomacy” has kicked off. The artists mentioned above have performed many global tours. The influence of jazz even extended to the other side of the Iron Curtain. In 1962, Goodman came to the Soviet Union to perform. These performances have achieved unprecedented results, enabling the United States to successfully export its values ​​to all parts of the world. As the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Donald Heath said, “Jazz has made our diplomatic work a lot easier, and we can use this type of The cost of the tour was to build a new tank, but the tank could not bring the kindness that Gillespie had in the hearts of the locals.”


  With the increasing influence of “Bebop” jazz in the world, it has also begun to attract the attention of orthodox music. In Europe, more and more musicians have begun to imitate the playing style of jazz and formed their own In jazz bands, more and more classical musicians have included jazz in their repertoire. Many large music venues that previously only accepted classical chamber music began to accept jazz performances. Jazz musicians gradually got rid of the disheveled appearance of the chin and began. Wearing formal attire, it is natural to play for the middle class and even the noble class. There was even such a scene: an orchestral quartet played classical music in the first half, and in the second half it changed its style and played jazz. The intervention of orthodox musicians also brought new changes to jazz. Most of the new generation of jazz musicians have received orthodox training, and their music theory and understanding of music are one level higher than the older generation of musicians. Therefore, they are not satisfied with repeating the noisy style of “Bebop” jazz or Simple dazzling technique, but the pursuit of a unique sound belonging to jazz, “Cool Jazz” came into being. In fact, “Cool Jazz” is a more general term, which refers to all kinds of changes beyond the lively style of “Bebop” jazz. Take a Break in Minutes as an example. The author gave up the common jazz’s four-thirds or four-four beats, and created this piece of music with a rhythm of four-fifths. The whole piece sounds like a detached, soft and beautiful unique style, becoming The sales champion of jazz singles in history. Mars Davis, another landmark figure of jazz trumpeter, was born in a wealthy black middle-class family and received orthodox music training at the Juilliard School of Music. In contrast to Gillespie’s lightning speed, he created an ethereal, profound, and direct-to-heart style with slow-paced performance. In 1959, there was a song titled “A Certain Blues” in his famous album In the single “How”, against the backdrop of the piano and cello, the trumpet played two sharp and long single notes, like a person repeatedly asking the world, “What should I do?” This sound can be regarded as The embodiment of Davis’s personality, facing the condemnation from all quarters, he is completely unmoved, maverick, showing the unremitting pursuit of art. It can be said that the transformation from “Bebop” to “Cool Jazz” has made jazz gradually get rid of the fate of simple entertainment music and began to develop in the direction of art music.