Do ya like Jazz? What is Jazz? It seems complicated to explain, and that's because it is. Jazz is an uncontrollable amalgamation of sounds that manifests itself as a monstrosity, if you will, of vibes. So what good does it do for me to write about it? Jazz's outreach is so vast that it would be fair to say all music is Jazz. However, that can be a hard pill for people to swallow. So, in this blog, you will swallow the Ska pill and understand that one of the most authentic forms of Jazz is Ska Rock.
Let me lay out a definition of Jazz for you from a self-proclaimed jazz connoisseur from the BBC longtime hit comedy, The Mighty Boosh.
"You hate Jazz? No, you fear Jazz! You fear the lack of rules."
Within this lack of rules, we can begin to reframe what makes Jazz. I motion that Jazz is a state of being that is ungovernable, above the pressures of a clean corded world, and often contains similar instruments. These instruments roam fully unburdened from social contracts and drift downstairs like that of a green-haired Joaquin Phoenix. According to PBS learning media, "jazz is most commonly played on the saxophone trumpet trombone piano bass drums and guitar." These instruments create essential Jazz, so I push that any band with these instruments then becomes essential Jazz. Yes, this includes that one Hobo Johnson song. Masterclass states that “ska music typically features guitar bass, saxophone, trumpet trombone, and lead vocals.” Joe Madalinski, alleged music enjoyer, says, "Everyone knows that if they use the same instruments, then it's the same music; that's why guitar stuff is so wild." I assert that if these two sets of instruments were Venn diagrams, they would be two circles sitting on top of one another. Before you argue that this is a stretch of an argument, understand that I understand music on a deeper level than you. Ska and Jazz aren’t just similar in sound, their stories are united.
Jazz originated in the early 20th century around the areas of New Orleans, Louisiana, its roots being ragtime and Blues. Now, this was a descendant of African American spirituals and really took off in a post-reconstruction world where segregation existed heavily. Jazz became the music of the disenfranchised, and it brought people together despite an oppressive world. Jazz began to spread, and as it did, it became increasingly white, and as we moved past Jazz as the premier cultural genre, it became increasingly elite. While figureheads such as Frank Sinatra held the beliefs of authentic Jazz, it was shortly after him that Jazz became a black-tie event rather than a fun Saturday night. Ska rock intends to bring Jazz back to its roots of working-class Americans through joyous brass, baggy jeans, conga lines, and rehashed top 100 hundred covers. Ska gives back to its roots and remains one of the most genuine forms of Jazz to date. Take the Skatune Network, for example, they are speaking to the youth through top 100 covers so that we can take Jazz out of champagne flutes and put it back in Lonestar’s.