Is Jazz Dead

Is Jazz Dead

R. Matzen

Is Jazz Dead, Or Has It Just Moved Across The Pond?

Jazz may appear to be dead, but only at first glance.   The era in which jazz first launched and gained massive pop culture status in the United States has come and gone by more than 80 years.   Even so, the improvisational genre continues to thrive outside its birthplace with great enthusiasm in the countries of Europe.   All it takes is a jump across the ocean to realize that jazz is very much alive and growing thanks to the talent of a few innovative artists residing there.   American jazz music accompanied the liberation of Europe after World War II where it came to be strongly associated with freedom.   Shortly after the liberation there was a large influx of American jazz musicians, including greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Bud Powell and Ben Webster who traveled overseas to find a wider, more accepting audience and to escape the racism to which they were regularly subjected to in the United States.   Having all these jazz legends living in Europe enabled a large cultural exchange between the musicians of America and the musicians of Europe.   Jazz music was quickly internalized by the European musicians who were eager to add tinges of their own folk music and culture to the ever expanding melting pot of American jazz.   Due to the fact that the Europeans were so open to cultural exchange and so willing to except and support jazz - through the likes of the avant-garde Polish Trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, Norwegian pianist and composer Bugge Wesseltoft, and Sweedish jazz pianist and composer Esbjörn Swenson - the once dying art form is once again flourishing, and this time it’s on the world stage.
Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, often described as the ‘Polish Miles Davis’, is one artist who found that jazz is synonymous with freedom.   Stańko was initially turned on to jazz via the Voice of America radio broadcasts, which were intended to promote freedom and democracy and to enhance...

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