What Exactly Is Jammin’ Jazz? Is That A Genre?

Everybody knows what JAZZ is. Jazz is restless. Jazz is the free form syncopated improvisational expression of emotions, the need to move, dance, release, be free. Jazz was birthed from repression, oppression, reaction, drugs, alcohol, and the overwhelming desire to be free. One of my favorite expressions from my favorite city, New Orleans, is used when something cannot be helped. When something is going to happen no matter how hard you try to fight it. The power and the pull of that something that is for some people too much to resist, it is “Bigga than them”. That is what Jazz is. Jazz could not be helped. It was a series of happy accidents. It was heavy deep instrumental conversation til the wee hours of the morning in a dark smokey bar between friends and acquaintances discussing “how it is right now”…

Steve Kimock and Robert WalterIt is beautiful. And the conversation never ends. It is still going today by younger players and that is my focus.

Everybody knows what the adjective/adverb/verb/noun “JAM” is.
“That is a JAMMIN’ outfit”
“That show was JAMMINGLY righteous Man!”
“This tune totally JAMS!”
“We had a JAM last night til 3am”

But merge the two and what exactly is Jammin’ Jazz?

Maybe it would be easier to start with what it is NOT.

It is NOT Jamband music. I am not playing the Dead. I am not playing Phish. No String Cheese or Panic here. There are plenty of outlets for Jamband music. There are entire channels devoted to that on satellite radio. I draw the soft line at the far fringe of Phish bands. There are a few tunes here and there that I may play by artists like Sound Tribe Sector 9, Vida Blue, some Zilla. But I will not dive into that heady realm.

Jammin’ to me, means it is so groovy, it has some funk in there, that it makes me MOVE in some way… like get up and dance, tap my foot, bounce my head, drum on my desk, give a lil shimmy here and a lil shammy there.

Jammin’ Jazz is the jazz of today. Stuff that is going on right now with touring musicians who are taking the music where they are going, where they have been and where they have yet to discover. It is merging Jazz with rock, punk, funk, blues, world, and all the inbetween.

THAT is Jammin’ Jazz is…

About Michelle

As a regular host and presenter on XM Satellite Radio’s XM 72 Beyond Jazz Channel, Michelle Sammartino felt the need for a window into the even more current Jazz movement. And so the long running program Jammin' Jazz - Jazz For The New Generation, was born in 2001. Running five times a week Jammin’ Jazz was one of the most popular shows on the channel. It features all that is cool and groovey, and happenin' in Modern Jazz right this minute. Michelle focuses on artists that are currently touring as well as the influences that made them choose this glamorous profession. Jammin’ Jazz features not just new modern Jazz, but the marriage of Jazz and Funk, Jazz and Rock, Jazz and Soul, Jazz and Hip Hop - from New Orleans to New York to Chicago to San Fran to Montreal to Europe to Japan and more. If it is happenin' in the world of Jazz you can find it here.
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