What Is Jazz?
Trying to answer the question, what is jazz, can be difficult and maybe even annoying. But, if we approach it with an open mind, it can also be a fascinating exercise.
Irish bassist and jazz teacher Ronan Guilfoyle has some useful essays on the nature of jazz. Whilst trying to answer the question what is jazz always turns out to be fraught and difficult, Ronan provides a useful reminder that the best definitions of Jazz are always contextual ones. Since our context today is global, we need to define jazz in terms of the global currents of improvised music.
“One of the things that I find most attractive about jazz is the democratic and social nature of the music. The music is about process rather than result ‚ jazz being best experienced live, where one can experience the creation of a piece of music, brought about by the efforts of a group of people working together, and communicating with each other.
– Ronan Guilfoyle”
In the end I think we always end up defining Jazz in a deeply subjective way, but sometimes this exercise can still be useful if it helps us understand better the way we approach our musical craft and the influences and practices we adopt and reject.