Chances are a traditional Jazz track isn’t featured in your iPhone’s top 25 most played, but whatever you’re listening to was likely inspired by the movement.
In fact, the Golden Age of Jazz has made a recent resurgence in popular culture. In the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, Hip Hop infused Jazz pieces curated by Jay Z set a glamorous backdrop. Jack Kerouac’s recently dramatized, On the Road, showcases underground Jazz bars whose spontaneous beats embody the characters of the Beat Generation itself.
And rightfully so. Jazz is more than a genre of music, it’s an art form that superseded race in the height of segregation by being created, played and heard by blacks, whites and latinos. Through its prominent use of improvisation, or jamming as you might call it, Jazz contributed to freedom of expression, other creative art forms like Jackson Pollock paintings and what entrepreneurs like to call thinking outside of the box. This history of Jazz is a musical, social and cultural revolution. If we are what we listen to, Jazz is everything we should want to be.
It’s the intellectual brother to Blues, and the cool great grand daddy to the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Dr. Dre, Alicia Keys and Radiohead who have all recognizably been influenced by its sounds. In a way, Jazz has become part of the DNA makeup of all modern music.
While one can cultivate an appreciation by searching for Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane on Spotify, Jazz is best appreciated outside the constraints of a recording studio. The nature of Jazz is not about hitting the right key at the perfect time, it’s about deep sultry voices and freedom of sound that speaks to the soul and sways the hips. That’s why it’s been most developed and appreciated over the years through live performances in speakeasies, nightclubs, concert halls and coffee houses.
Another contributing event to Jazz’s continual evolution will be this year’s Singapore International Jazz Festival from March 4th to 6th at the Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza overlooking the modern Singapore Skyline.
Throughout three days you can enjoy 23 acts, with artists of different ages, creeds and cultures delivering fresh and traditional sounds ranging from indie, pop, latin, afro beats and jazz classics. You can wander in solo, with a date or bring your granny – Sing Jazz has a sound for everyone. The festival embodies a spirit of creativity, and mirrors the surrounding creativity that is in Asia. The event features sounds like neo-soul band Hiatus Kaiyote, indie, R&B and electronic pop singer Charlie Lim, Grammy Award winner and free spirited Joss Stone, Nigeria’s Seun Kuti (whose father Fela Kuti revolutionized Jazz with his afro-beats) and the legendary Cuban Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club on their last ever tour.
This is exciting stuff for a city whose musical scene is growing and beginning to place a number of musicians on the world map. Sing Jazz is an opportunity for local musicians to network and for all to listen, absorb, be inspired and get swept up in the energy and creativity. Co-founder and Creative Director of the event, David Smith explains that it’s more than just going to hear a song from the radio that you like. These artists may play something unscripted that will never be played ever again – you are being invited on a special journey with them.
With such diversity of sound one could even say that Sing Jazz, despite its name, is not a Jazz festival, at least not in the sense of a traditional saxophone ensemble. It’s a fusion of musical influences, genres and styles delivered by a superstar lineup. In sum, it’s more than just Jazz. In a way, it shows just how interconnected our wide range of global cultures have become, and for those who make the effort to attend the event is sure to leave a lasting impression.