We’ve been playing live jazz for over two decades whether by ourselves or to entertain audiences at shows, parties and events. Though we specialize in traditional or original jazz such as ragtime, swing and Dixieland, we’ve jammed with numerous other jazz musicians and have witnessed the evolution of the genre.

We often have audience members or clients we’re working with ask us about the difference between what we play and what can be broadly classed as modern jazz.

The Differences between Jazz Now and Jazz Then

We’re going to elaborate on some of the differences between traditional or older jazz and more modern forms of the genre so that you can distinguish what kind of jazz you’re listening to today.

The Sound

The first and most obvious difference between modern jazz and the older more traditional stuff is the sound. Where older jazz forms sound more soft, soothing and generally melodious, modern jazz can be faster, and to some, harsher than its traditional counterpart.

Modern jazz, though often brilliant can be offbeat, difficult to follow, intrusive and possibly not the kind of thing you could have playing to say relax your guests. Traditional jazz standards are often shorter than modern jazz compositions and contain lyrical content that most modern jazz does not.

The Appeal

Razz in Graham 2004 001used on razz web site

The fact that traditional jazz is simple to the listener and easier on the ears is what contributes to the widespread appeal it enjoys. Traditional jazz is jazz for the people. You do not need to be a music aficionado or someone applying to Berkley to be able to enjoy some good swing or Dixieland jazz.

Modern jazz due to its musical complexity can also be harder to follow and hence harder to appreciate. Compositions are extremely lengthy and musical arrangements are far from simple. You would need to have a basic grasp of musical theory to really appreciate modern jazz. It’s not for everyone!

The Ambiance

One of the things that work against modern jazz is the relationship it has with dancing! Good music and dancing often go hand in hand. Though dancing to modern jazz is possible, you can’t really dance to loosen up on the same.

The kind of dances you can perform on modern jazz are more professional in nature – contemporary interpretive dance to be precise. You can’t really sway with your loved one to a modern jazz number.

Traditional jazz isn’t just great to hear. It’s great to move to as well! The general ambiance created by traditional jazz is one far more conducive to social gatherings.

Winding Down

We hope this blog has helped some of you understand the differences between modern jazz and the kind of jazz we specialize in playing! Feel free to check out some of our music or give us a shout if you’re looking to hire a jazz band for your next event. All the best!