Jazz is like a giant sponge. Although it takes a unique approach to music, the genre isn’t afraid to incorporate ideas from other sounds. This process allows the melodies to continuously evolve while each previous effort remains relevant.
The sounds from the 1920s are just as inviting today as the new artists that promote jazz in the 2020s.
It’s fair to say that excellent music doesn’t come with an expiration date. When you listen to some of today’s popular music, you’ll find elements from jazz in there, still tickling your ears. Here are some examples.
How Is Jazz Still Relevant in Today’s Music?
Many of the chord progressions found in jazz are now in several styles of popular music. Folk, blues, R&B, and some rock use the famous II-V-I sounds that get reinvented multiple times in songs. Advanced processes, such as chord extensions, also came from this genre. If you listen to the instruments in the background, what you’re hearing is a form of jazz.
Jazz is unique because it allows any rhythm to be part of the genre. The most famous version might be the swing era because it caused people to dance, but this music also created the shuffle groove that’s found in the blues. It’s heavy on syncopation, which is a trait you can find in rock and country. There are even Latin influences found in its structure, including bossa novas and sambas.
3. Hip Hop
One could argue that the hip-hop genre is the one that’s most influenced by jazz today. The samples that today’s artists take from yesterday’s geniuses are enormous. You’ll hear hundreds of accompaniments and rhythms looped into a backdrop that serves as modern music. When you look at songs that have charted since the 1920s, Herbie Hancock has had about 300 samples reach your ears.
Hip-hop is also one of the few genres that embrace the concept of improvisation that jazz introduced.
Pop music stands for “popular,” so there was a time when jazz was always topping the charts. After the influences of Elvis Presley and other transformative artists, the genre became the ghostwriter for different styles of music. You’ll still see it performed in many Top 40 arrangements, including Michael Jackson’s collaboration with Quincy Jones on the “Thriller” album, which sold 66 million copies and is the best-selling album of all time.
If you listen to the song “Beat It,” the spelling out of the minor 9th chord in the primary riff has a definitive jazz influence. The arranged for “The Lady in My Life” is another excellent example. Even the melody lines of “Baby Be Mine” come from the lessons that jazz taught.
Today’s music continues to carry the torch that yesterday’s jazz musicians brought to the world. By tracking the various melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic tools these pioneers created, you can hear components of songs from over 100 years ago that sound like they should be on the radio today.