The foundation of what might be called the "sound track" of the Dieselpunk genre is Jazz music, was the most pervasive and best known genre of music of the 1920s through the late 1940s and early 1950s. Having its roots in the New Orleans music scene, the Jazz genre began to emerge after World War I, and with the help of new technology (radio), became known throughout the United States. This being said, there are numerous variations of Jazz which were popular in the different eras of Dieselpunk, but the best known are…
Hot Jazz Edit
Circa 1925, Louis Armstrong recorded his first Hot Five records - the first time he recorded under his own name. The records made by Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven are considered to be absolute Jazz classics and speak of Armstrong's creative powers. The band never played live, but continued recording until 1928. The music was characterized by collective improvised solos, around melodic structure, that ideally built up to an emotional and "hot" climax. The rhythm section, usually drums, bass, banjo or guitar supported this crescendo, many times in the style of march tempo. Soon, larger bands and orchestras began to emulate that energy, especially with the advance of record technology, that spread the "hot" new sound across the country.
Chicago Style JazzEdit
Chicago was the breeding ground for many young, inventive players. Characterized by harmonic, inovative arrangements and a high technical ability of the players, Chicago Style Jazz significantly furthered the improvised music of it's day.Contributions from dynamic players like Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman and Eddie Condon along with the creative grooves of Gene Krupa, helped to pioneer Jazz music from it's infancy and inspire those who followed.
The 1930s belonged to Swing. During that classic era, most of the Jazz groups were Big Bands. Derived from New Orleans Jazz, Swing was robust and invigorating. Swing was also dance music, which served as it's immediate connection to the people.Although it was a collective sound, Swing also offered individual musicians a chance to improvise melodic, thematic solos which could at times be very complex.The mid 1990's saw a revival of Swing music fueled by the retro trends in dance. Once again young couples across America and Europe jitter-bugged to the swing'n sounds of Big Band music, often played by much smaller ensembles.
Kansas City Style JazzEdit
During the Depression and Prohibition eras, the Kansas City Jazz scene thrived as a mecca for the modern sounds of late 1920s and 30s. Characterized by soulful and blusey stylings of Big Band and small ensemble Swing, arrangements often showcased highly energetic solos played to "speakeasy" audiences.
Originated by French guitarist Django Reinhardt, Gypsy Jazz is an unlikely mix of 1930s American swing, French dance hall "musette" and the folk strains of Eastern Europe. Also known as Jazz Manouche, it has a languid, seductive feel characterized by quirky cadences and driving rhythms.The main instruments are nylon stringed guitars, often amounting to a half-dozen ensemble, with occasional violins and bass violin. Solos pass from one player to another as the other guitars assume the rhythm. While primarily a nostalgic style set in European bars and small venues, Gypsy Jazz is appreciated world wide.
Bebop (or Bop) was developed in the early 1940's and had established itself as vogue by 1945. It's main innovators were alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.Until then, Jazz improvisation was derived from the melodic line. Bop soloists engaged in chordal improvisation, often avoiding the melody altogether after the first chorus. Usually under seven pieces, the soloist was free to explore improvised possibilities as long as they fit into the chord structureDiffering greatly from Swing, Bop divorced itself early-on from dance music, establishing itself as art form but severing its potential commercial value. Ironically, what was once thought of as a radical style, Bebop has become the basis for all the innovations that followed.
Cool Jazz evolved directly from Bop in the late 1940's and 1950's. A smoothed out mixture of Bop and Swing, tones were again harmonic and dynamics were now softened. The ensemble arrangement had regained importance. Nicknamed "West Coast Jazz" because of the many innovations coming from Los Angeles, Cool became nation wide by the end of the 1950's, with significant contributions from East Coast musicians and composers.
After the end of the Big Band era, as these large ensembles broke into smaller groups, Swing music continued to be played. Some of Swing's finest players could be heard at their best in jam sessions of the 1950s where chordal improvisation now would take significance over melodic embellishment.
Hard Bop (1955-70) is an extension of Bebop that was somewhat interrupted by the Cool sounds of West Coast Jazz. The melodies tend to be more "soulful" than Bebop, borrowing at times from Rhythm & Blues and even Gospel themes. The rhythm section is sophisticated and more diverse than the Bop of the 1940's. Pianist Horace Silver is known for his Hard Bop innovations.By the mid 1960's, Hard Bop had split into Post Bop, Modal Jazz and Soul Jazz. Hard Bop emerged as a major influence again in the early 1990's.
Much of the aforementioned list seems a bit technical, but most people actually recognize more versions than they realize. From Louis Armstrong's Hot Jazz of the Roaring 1920s, the Swing tunes of the Depression and World War II era, or the Cool Jazz found in many Film Noir productions, Jazz permeates the Dieselpunk genre. With the advent of Electro-swing, new life has been infused into the classics of the era, but one can always hear a bit of the past in the new works! For more information about Jazz history of the era, please visit the links you can find in the References.
For a complete overview of nowadays beats, please visit the Modern Genres article featured in the Music section.
Jazz Timeline, A Pasison for Jazz website, located at: http://www.apassion4jazz.net/timeline.html (The main reference for this entry)
Wikipedia web entry on Jazz, Wikipedia website, located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz
Burns, K.,, "Jazz", PBS.org, located at: http://www.pbs.org/jazz/