Genres Uncovered | Jazz

Apart from “Careless Whisper,” do you listen to jazz? It’s much more than just a sexy sax riff played over and over again. Nevertheless, I encourage you to get swept away by the late, great George Michael, and by all means, let his smash hit be the soundtrack to this post.

Where in Winnipeg can you enjoy jazz regularly? Do we have a jazz club? We could use some more sax puffin’, tom and cymbal brushin’, upright bass pluckin’, horn blastin’, scat poppin’ and smooth singin’ every weekend. Sorry, that was exhausting, but it’s true!

I believe the closest thing we have to a jazz club is Soul Night at The Cavern in Osborne Village. Soul blends elements of gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz. But what is jazz by itself?

A Passion For Jazz! academically refers to the genre as “a genre of American music that originated in New Orleans circa 1900 characterized by strong, prominent meter, improvisation, distinctive tone colors & performance techniques, and dotted or syncopated rhythmic patterns.”

But wait… the site then defines it as a lifestyle: “Jazz is not the result of choosing a tune, but an ideal that is created first in the mind, inspired by one’s passion and willed next in playing music. Jazz music is a language, sometimes intimate, often boisterous, but always layered with experience and life profoundly lived.” Woah, preach.

I think the word improvisation says it all. Maybe even collective improvisation. Jazz is free flowing music. I’d say pure jazz comes out when musicians jam or express themselves freely during a solo. The genre doesn’t need to be bound by musical structure and can be free to go in any direction the musician or artist feels at any moment.

I had the pleasure of seeing one of the best jazz guitarists in the world perform at a jazz club in Minneapolis a few years ago. Pat Metheny is his name and he has had an amazing career in music spanning over 40 years (just read his ridiculous bio). His improvisation is mind-blowing and is the basis for most if not all of his music he’s written.

When I think of jazz, I normally gravitate toward the instruments of the genre: piano, saxophone, upright bass, brass, guitar, etc. But vocal jazz has a huge part as well.

Nadia Douglas, a Winnipeg-based jazz singer with rich alto vocals, performs at restaurants around the city (i.e. Mona Lisa Ristorante and InFerno’s on Academy), so keep an eye out for Nadia. She has a show next Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre… but it’s at 2 p.m. So if you have the day off, I recommend heading over there to familiarize yourself with smooth vocal jazz.

If you love jazz and you’re looking for a fun festival in the summertime (within the city limits), the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival is the place to be. On June 22, Gregory Porter—a sultry singing jazz-man—will be in town to perform at the festival.

Sources: Jazz Winnipeg, Manitoba Music, A Passion For Jazz!


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