Why is jazz so complicated?

When it comes to music, jazz is relatively complex; there are many musical, technical, intellectual, and emotional elements that occur simultaneously (more on that later). Jazz demands much more from the listener than most popular styles, which are fundamentally simpler than jazz and require less from the listener. Setting out on a path to creating music, your own music, isn't easy. Pianist Keith Jarrett, whose bands from the 1970s had played only original compositions with outstanding elements of free jazz, created his so-called “Standards Trio” in 1983, which, while also occasionally exploring collective improvisation, has performed and recorded mainly jazz standards.

Similarly, Chick Corea began exploring jazz standards in the 1980s, having neglected them during the 1970s. Nu jazz is influenced by the harmony and melodies of jazz, and there are generally no improvisational aspects. It can be very experimental in nature and can vary widely in sound and concept. It ranges from the combination of live instrumentation with the rhythms of jazz house (as exemplified by St Germain, Jazzanova and Fila Brazillia) to improvised jazz more based on bands with electronic elements (for example, The Cinematic Orchestra, Kobol and future Norwegian jazz promoted by Bugge Wesseltoft, Jaga Jazzist and Nils Petter Molvær).

In the 1980s, in addition to Wynton and Branford Marsalis, the appearance of jazz messengers such as Donald Brown, Mulgrew Miller and, later, Benny Green, bassists such as Charles Fambrough, Lonnie Plaxico (and later Peter Washington and Essiet Essiet) trumpeters such as Bill Pierce, Donald Harrison and, later, Javon Jackson and Terence Blanchard emerged as talented jazz musicians, all of whom made important contributions in the 1990s and 2000s. Jazz arrangements with a Latin A section and an oscillating B section, with all the choirs balanced during the solos, became common practice with many Latin melodies from the standard jazz repertoire. Handy's musical career began in the pre-jazz era and he contributed to the codification of jazz by publishing some of the first jazz scores. However, the critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt argues that his terms of reference and definition should be broader, defining jazz as a form of artistic music that originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music and argues that it differs from European music in that jazz has a special relationship with time defined as “swing”.

The emergence of young jazz talents who began performing in older and more established groups of musicians further influenced the revival of traditionalism in the jazz community. A more precise term could be Afro-Latin jazz, since the jazz subgenre usually uses rhythms that have a direct analog in Africa or that show an African rhythmic influence beyond what is normally heard in other types of jazz. Since only a limited number of American jazz records were released in Europe, European jazz has many of its roots in American artists such as James Reese Europe, Paul Whiteman and Lonnie Johnson, who visited Europe during and after the First World War. Acid jazz usually contains several types of electronic composition (sometimes with samples or cuts and scratches from live DJs), but it is just as likely to be played live by musicians, who often show the performance of jazz as part of their performance.

Following the work of drummer Han Bennink and pianist Misha Mengelberg, the musicians began to explore by improvising collectively until they found a form (melody, rhythm, a famous song). The jazz critic Kevin Whitehead documented the free jazz scene in Amsterdam and some of its main exponents, such as the ICP (Instant Composers Pool) orchestra in his book New Dutch Swing. In the early 1980s, a commercial form of jazz fusion called soft jazz was successful, which received significant radio airplay. There was bebop and its variants, there was the last breath of swing, there were strange new beers like Stan Kenton's progressive jazz, and there was a completely new phenomenon called revivalism: the rediscovery of jazz from the past, whether on old records or performed live by elderly musicians who had come out of retirement.

The contemporary young Jazz Messengers, such as Roy Hargrove, Marcus Roberts, Wallace Roney and Mark Whitfield, were also influenced by Wynton Marsalis' emphasis on the jazz tradition. In the 1970s, the groups of Betty Carter and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers maintained their conservative approaches to jazz amidst fusion and jazz-rock and, in addition to having difficulty booking their performances, they struggled to find younger generations of staff who would play traditional styles such as hard bop and bebop with authenticity. Jazz involves the spontaneity and vitality of musical production, in which improvisation plays a role and contains a sound and a form of phrasing that reflect the individuality of the jazz musician who performs it. In the 1960s and 1970s, many jazz musicians had only a basic understanding of Cuban and Brazilian music, and jazz compositions that used Cuban or Brazilian elements were often referred to as Latin melodies, with no distinction between a Cuban son montuno and a Brazilian bossa nova.