Where was jazz invented?


  • Partial origin: blues
  • Rich in syncope, rhythmic, vital
  • Contrast of beat and off-beat
  • Lack of thematic work


  • mostly instrumental
  • relative free improvisation
  • acoustically
  • technological level conservative
  • musical status progressive, orientation also towards avant-garde, developed chromatics, layering of thirds and fourths, modal scales, rhythmic variety, irregular clock structures
  • Process mainly variable
  • Topic with processing as the predominant process
  • Sound shaped by wind instruments and piano


  • predominantly vowel
  • mainly fixed (arranged)
  • electric
  • technological level adapted to the respective electroacoustic progress
  • Musical standard conservative, alignment with blues and conventional stanzas, 12- or 16-bar scheme, the simplest basic chords, predominantly diatonic, major-minor tonality with echoes of pentatonic scales
  • Process predominantly repetitive
  • additive structure, stanzas, short terms, short to modest expansion
  • Sound shaped by plucked instruments and drums

The different understanding of the rhythmic style of play also plays a major role: while jazz musicians, for example, would play a notated chain of eighth notes in a triplet (ternary) manner, rock musicians would also play eighth notes in an even measure (binary).

Nevertheless, there is something artificial about the boundaries between jazz and rock that musicians often ignore. So there are numerous jazz musicians who made music with rock musicians without showing the arrogance of many a critic; they are aware of the differences. It shows little understanding of both jazz and rock if one wanted to play these two areas against each other. Despite all the similarities, jazz has different objectives than rock.


The history of jazz rock can be roughly divided into three phases: the first phase began around the mid-1960s, when rock and jazz musicians found ways of playing together in tentative experiments.

The second phase can be dated exactly with the appearance of Miles Davis' LP "Bitches Brew"; this phase is what is meant when people talk about jazz rock in general. This type of jazz rock solidified into stereotypes as early as the mid-1970s.

Parallel to this American jazz rock, a specifically European synthesis of rock and jazz elements developed in Europe, especially in Great Britain, which in the course of the 1980s proved to be the artistically more significant.

Finally, the third phase is hardly given the name jazz rock; but the music of this phase is nothing else. Although it started in the USA, European jazz and rock musicians played a key role in this music from the start.

The first attempts to combine jazz and rock were made by British musicians in the mid-1960s without their stated intention to create anything like jazz rock. Rather, they mostly came from the British blues movement and therefore brought the element of improvisation into rock music. Bands like Cream and Colosseum made rock listeners known with long improvisations. In the late 1960s, the term jazz rock was associated with bands such as Chicago Transit Authority (later just Chicago) and Blood, Sweat & Tears. In fact, these two bands were the first to give winds wide solo space; Jazz musicians have often played at B, S & T (e.g. Mike Stern, Dave Bargeron, Larry Willis, Randy Brecker). But it should not be ignored that both bands did not always play in the jazz-rock idiom, but also had the usual rock songs and even Schnulzen in their repertoire. Nevertheless, the stylistic peculiarities of jazz rock can be found in many of the compositions of these two bands: extensive improvisations over a bass riff, which was also subjected to varying improvisation. Both groups left no doubt about their jazz qualities, especially in live performances. The success of these brass rock groups - as this music was later called - meant that other bands of this style were founded everywhere; from them emerged musicians who then increasingly turned to Davis’s jazz rock (e.g. Billy Cobham, who was the drummer of the brass rock band Dreams; the Brecker Brothers also played in this band).

Jazz musicians also approached rock, such as guitarist Larry Coryell and vibraphonist Gary Burton, who used a composition by the Beatles with "Norwegian Wood"; the saxophonist Charles Lloyd also played some songs by the Liverpool quartet. After the dissolution of the Cream group, the bassist Jack Bruce turned to jazz rock, recorded an album strongly influenced by jazz with "Things we like" in 1968, later played with the drummer Tony Williams in his group Lifetime and in 1974 with the composer and pianist Carla Bley.

Around 1970 jazz rock was not only a style of its own, but also a stylistic device that was used by many musicians, such as Bloodwyn Pig, Association PC, Brian Auger & The Trinity, Lighthouse, If, Chase, The Flock, Burnin 'Red Ivanhoe, Spirit , The Ides of March, to name but a few.

With the release of the album "Bitches Brew" a consolidation phase of jazz rock began; At the same time, with this record by trumpeter Miles Davis, the path of jazz for the 1970s was set. Even if “Bitches Brew” must be seen as the starting point for this development, Davis had already approached rock cautiously on earlier records. The circle of musicians with whom Miles Davis played in the late 1960s included almost all the important musicians of jazz rock: guitarist John McLaughlin, pianist Herbie Hancock, drummer Tony Williams, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianists Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul and drummers Lenny White and Billy Cobham. From this circle the important groups of American jazz rock formed: Weather Report with Zawinul, Shorter and the bassist Mirouslav Vitous; Tony Williams Lifetime with Williams, McLaughlin, and Bruce; The Mahavishnu Orchestra with McLaughlin, Cobham and violinist Jerry Goodman (formerly with The Flock) and Chick Corea's group Return To Forever with Corea, White and bassist Stanley Clarke. The style-forming power of these groups was so great that soon jazz musicians all over the world were playing this type of jazz rock.

It was always extremely virtuoso music, but it soon worked according to established schemes: a theme was set up in unison over a riff, which was abandoned after repeated playing through in favor of long modal improvisations; at the end of such a piece the theme was repeated - again in unison. The only criterion soon became the speed with which the musicians played their instruments; the standards that apply to mastering an instrument in both rock and jazz were established during this period. The side effect was that of an emancipation of the rhythm instruments guitar, bass guitar and drums, which in turn had an impact on traditional jazz and rock. The elements of jazz rock could be isolated and made available to any other music; even progressive rock groups like Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer improvised no differently. The jazz rock of this variety, although a time-limited movement of three to four years, thus had positive effects on rock music up to the 1980s, and in some cases into the 1990s.

Apart from American jazz rock, another jazz rock of dazzling diversity developed in Europe. The British bands Soft Machine and Caravan were rock bands towards the end of the 1960s, but they soon turned to jazz on the one hand and the avant-garde of art music on the other, creating an independent European jazz rock. In addition to the Canterbury-based bands Soft Machine and Caravan, there were the groups Henry Cow, Slapp Happy, Egg, Hatfield and The North, National Health, Matching Mole and musicians such as drummer Robert Wyatt and guitarist Fred Frith, whose music is largely unknown stayed, but had a significant influence on jazz rock in the 1980s.

Jazz rock had largely fallen into disrepute among rock listeners in the mid-1970s; some records by Chick Corea, Al DiMeola and Herbie Hancock, for example, were little more than the routinely downplayed productions by under-challenged musicians, Miles Davis had not published any records for a period of six years since the mid-1970s, John McLaughlin seemed largely disoriented. The connection between jazz and rock received impulses from free funk: elements of free jazz and funk were fused by musicians such as Ornette Coleman, James Blood Ulmer, Luther Thomas, the group Material and others to form a music that rekindled the interest of rock listeners withdrew. The central figure is the bassist of the band Material, Bill Laswell, who has also been working as a producer since the early 1980s and who had the ability to bring together musicians from different stylistic backgrounds. He worked with reggae musicians such as Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, Fred Frith from Henry Cow, the singer Nona Hendryx, the German free jazz saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and the drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson. Laswell was also the strongest integrative force in the area between rock and jazz in the early 1990s.
The extent to which rock and jazz elements are interwoven in improvised music at the end of the 1980s can be seen in the music of Jack DeJohnettes on the one hand and that of saxophonist John Zorn on the other.