Five Ways Jazz Can Be Punk

September 13, 2012

by Matt Fleeger

Jazz is a sponge for outside sounds. Add another idea to it - say, European classical or gospel-inflected R&B music - and it absorbs, assimilating the sound into a new subgenre: like “third stream” or “soul jazz,” respectively. Wring it out, and its own improvisatory essence remains in the mix.

It’s hard to imagine something that could be further in sound and structure from jazz than punk rock, but punk and jazz do have elements in common - the most important being attitude. Whether it came from the boundary-pushing free jazz of the late ’50s or the experimental electronic sounds of the late ’60s and ’70s, the spirit of adventure, creativity and thumbing one’s nose at “the rules” has always been a part of jazz’s historical trajectory.

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Summer Arts through Culture Program: a cultural fellowship grant
for teen musicians.