My personal opinion is that the greatest injustice to music was referring to so many different styles as jazz. It seems that if an early jazz musician who may have started with Traditional Jazz began experimenting with a different style, it was still called jazz. Examples are Latin, Bebop, funk, fusion, acid, straight-ahead, and on and on. Swing is an extension of Traditional Jazz because it is, of course, very danceable.
With all these choices, it is not unusual to have people ask exactly what Traditional Jazz is and does. There is a monthly publication called The Syncopated Times, for “Exploring the World of Hot Jazz, Ragtime and Swing.” An article by Adrian Cunningham in the September issue is titled “The Inner Workings of a Traditional Jazz Band.” It’s meant to be humorous, and it is if you’re a Trad jazz fan and know about improvisation. He starts off with his take on improvising: In a jazz band, each instrument makes stuff up in a different way that hopefully results in some noise that somebody else wants to listen to (assuming nothing good is on TV). Someone plays the melody while everyone else tries to stay out of their way, then everybody takes turns making stuff up for three minutes, then someone plays the melody again, then everybody stops. Cunningham then goes on to explain the proper role of each instrument. To read the entire article, go to page 9 at syncopatedtimes.com.
Now, within Traditional Jazz (think Louis Armstrong and dancing), there are also many styles, such as Dixieland, Ragtime, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, West Coast, the Blues, Big Band, Hot, etc.
The 52nd Street Jazz Band is the warm-up band for the November Arizona Classic Jazz Festival. They play Chicago-style jazz that became popular in Chicago in the 1920s and moved to New York City in the 1930s. The very danceable music is similar to New Orleans-style, though Chicago-style places more emphasis on solos and substitutes string bass for the tuba and guitar for the banjo. Come and join the fun at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort, One San Marcos Place, in Chandler on October 8 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Cost is $15 for Arizona Classic Jazz Society members; $20 non-members (become a new member on the 8th and get in free; yearly membership $35 couple, single $25). For more information, go to www.azclassicjazz.org or call 480-620-3941.
To hear all the Traditional styles of early 20th Century jazz, attend the Arizona Classic Jazz Festival November 2-5, 2017, also at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort. There will be a total of 19 special sets with a few dedicated to offshoots of early jazz, such as country and rock ‘n’ roll. There will be 14 bands from around the U.S., including The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys straight from New Orleans, four venues, great dance floors, and a total of 94 hours of fantastic music. The bands and schedule are posted on www.azclassicjazz.org.