Once bebop refused to go away, how did "jazz" emerge as a unifying term for several styles?
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Once bebop refused to go away, how did jazz emerge as a
unifying term for several styles?
It's an important issue when we talk about semantics. A lot of
people have hated the word jazz and jazz is actually - in some
ways it's an older and more recent term than we think. It
certainly existed in the 1920s but then it was sort of forsaken
in the 1930s for swing. And then there were other kinds of
styles like boogie-woogie. People didn't say, "Well boogie-
woogie is a kind of jazz," they just said it was boogie-woogie,
so they were playing eight to the bar. Bebop came along and
everybody called it bop or bebop or modern jazz, um, but by the
early 1950s people are, serious people who are looking back at
the history of this music are beginning to see that there is a
chronology. That there is a series of begats, that King Oliver
does begat Louis Armstrong who does begat Roy Eldridge who does
begat Dizzy Gillespie who does begat Miles Davis - just to talk
about the trumpet players.
So there are all these styles and suddenly jazz becomes the
umbrella term to describe them all. Now even as that's
happening there are new terms coming into the mix; people are
talking about West Coast jazz or cool jazz - Jerry Mulligan and
Chet Baker and those cats out there. And the response on the
East Coast is hard bop, Art Blakey and Horace Silver, the black
musicians in New York. And then there's the avant-garde. But
all of them for the most part when they're written about, it's
jazz. Jazz becomes the big umbrella term in the '50s and '60s
for the first time and it's remained that ever since.