All about Jazz

Jazz Culture, Clubs and the Most Popular Jazz Instruments

Musical styles come and go, from 60s surf pop to 80s synth bands, but there's one genre that never goes out of fashion: jazz. Jazz isn't just a unique type of music enjoyed by millions around the world - it's a culture with its own fascinating history and famous locations, as well as specific instruments and techniques associated with the most lauded jazz artists of all time. If you've enjoyed the jazz music that you've heard so far and have been wanting to learn more about this daring subculture and its origins, we've put together a quick guide on the basics of jazz Whether you want to know where to find the best jazz clubs in the world or figure out what kind of jazz instrument you might be interested in learning, we'll help you with the foundations of this indispensable genre.

The Beginnings of Jazz Culture

Jazz began in the late 19th century, evolving from the Blues established in the Southern regions of the US and originating specifically from African American musicians and artists living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Coming together as a blend of African, Afro-Cuban, and European musical styles, jazz had humble origins, and was mainly associated with the working-class Black artists who played this bold new style at local clubs.

Characterized by complex chords, swing and ragtime rhythms, and frequent improvisation by talented musicians, jazz exploded in popularity in the 1920s, which eventually became known as the Jazz Age retroactively. The genre has been considered a significant musical mode ever since, representative of 20th-century America and enjoyed by millions of people from all walks of life.

Jazz Clubs In The States and Beyond

The golden age of jazz may have been almost a century ago, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still find an authentic jazz club experience in the present day. Live jazz clubs are still popular venues all throughout the US and beyond, with the best jazz clubs often being found where jazz originally flourished.

As you can imagine, jazz clubs still flourish in Louisiana, with New Orleans hosting iconic venues like Mahogany Hall and Preservation Hall, a jazz joint that is dedicated to conserving the local styles of jazz still celebrated across the country.

But classic clubs can be found all throughout the US and beyond, with European venues like the 1920s-themed Nightjar in London and La Caveau de la Hutchette, which features in La La Land, the film that brought jazz music to a new generation.

The Most Popular Jazz Instruments

Jazz is a complex and multifaceted form of music that can really be played through any medium you choose, but it tends to be associated with the mastery of a few specific instruments. Typically in a band, you’ll see jazz musicians playing:

  • Brass instruments like trombones, trumpets, and saxophones
  • A bass instrument like a double bass or electric jazz bass guitar
  • A percussion instrument like a drumkit or bongos
  • A solo instrument like a jazz guitar or piano

Some combination of the instruments above – often with a voice added into the mix for scatting or standard lyrics – make up a standard jazz ensemble, but many jazz musicians make the genre their own by deviating from this mixture with new technologies and techniques.

If you’re looking to get started and play jazz in your own jazz band or as a solo instrumentalist, RVA Jazz has everything you need to begin playing jazz guitar or saxophone, will all the extras and accessories you’ll need to make the most out of your new instrument.