Jazz Music Genres List

The most comprehensive list of Jazz Music genres available on the Internet

The Music Genres List site covers many of the most popular styles of jazz music, we hope this becomes the definitive list of jazz music genres on the Internet, send an email to add @ musicgenreslist dot com if you feel any jazz music genres are missing and we’ll add to complete the music list.


  • Acid Jazz (with thx to Hunter Nelson)
  • Avant-Garde Jazz
  • Bebop (thx Mwinogo1)
  • Big Band
  • Blue Note (with thx to Jillian Edwards)
  • Contemporary Jazz
  • Cool
  • Crossover Jazz
  • Dixieland
  • Ethio-jazz (with thx to Jillian Edwards)
  • Fusion
  • Gypsy Jazz (kudos to Mike Tait Tafoya)
  • Hard Bop
  • Latin Jazz
  • Mainstream Jazz
  • Ragtime
  • Smooth Jazz
  • Trad Jazz
  • Third Stream (cheers Benjamin Jackson-Reynolds)
  • Jazz-Funk
  • Free Jazz
  • Modal Jazz


Jazz Music Genre

Jazz originated from African American communities in New Orleans. It started in the late 1800s and found its roots in both ragtime and blues. It’s considered America’s classical music.

Ever since its popularity in the 1920s, jazz has been a major form of expression. Its origins in traditional and popular music styles of both European-American band music and African American cultural parentage lends its musical qualities to a performance orientation.

Jazz music is characterized by blue notes and call-and-response vocals, much like the blues genre. It differs in its swing style, though, with a dominant element of improvisation. Jazz is world-famous among intellectuals who call it one of America’s “original forms of art.”

Jazz Music Genre Origins

One of the most appealing things about the jazz genre is how it has changed over time with each performer’s influence and personal interpretation of the music. Improvisation is what makes it memorable.

It started in the late nineteenth century, as the slave folk songs of the African people were influenced by European and American classical music. The slaves in New Orleans were mainly from West Africa, so the Western African culture provides the roots of jazz music.

The harmonic style of church hymns in America combined with their spirituals and laid the groundwork for this musical genre, rich with emotion. As the nineteenth century wore on, many black musicians learned to play instruments from Europe, which they used for their cakewalks.

As the popularity of jazz grew, European-American performers wore blackface and popularized the music worldwide. Both musical styles and ethnicities continued to influence one another’s music as jazz continued to evolve.

Although the Black Codes prohibited slaves from drumming, they were able to keep drumming traditions alive through body rhythms like stomping and clapping. In the Caribbean, however, African-based rhythms were retained, and these influences crossed over into New Orleans from the Cuban and Haitian people.

Jazz Music Genre Influences

African American music incorporated Afro-Cuban motifs due to the twice-a-day ferry that musicians took between Havana and New Orleans. Cuban music was a significant part of popular African American music from that point.

After slavery was abolished, many African Americans found work as performers. Their ability to provide entertainment variety during a time when ragtime was growing in popularity meant that ragtime music did a lot to influence popular African American musical stylings, including jazz.

Blues also played its part. The blues were developing around the same time as jazz but originated from a different part of the country. The music also found its roots in similar African spirituals, work songs, and chants.

Due to some of the similarities in musical stylings, it is safe to assume that blues played a role in the evolution of jazz. Music in New Orleans at the time had a profound influence on early jazz. New Orleans culture allowed the involvement of slaves and even embraced certain elements of their culture to an extent, including drums and voodoo.

It was such a significant part of the New Orleans culture that black jazz musicians were allowed to play in brothels and bars in the red-light district, leading to the growing popularity of jazz. Another element of New Orleans culture was the European marching bands that played at funerals and toured black communities in the Deep South. These musicians picked up certain elements of the jazz style and carried it with them throughout the rest of the northern and western parts of the country.

The most prominent rhythmic technique used in jazz music is swing. Swing’s influence on jazz is undeniable. It is identified by an almost intangible rhythmic momentum that penetrates every part of the musical structure.

Whether it is present or not will surely inspire arguments, but it’s there, with its triple and duple subdivisions of the beat. New Orleans gave jazz music many of its most famous artists, including D’Jalma Garnier who trained Louis Armstrong on the trumpet, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, and Jelly Roll Morton.

In other parts of the country in the early 1900s, ragtime and swing musicians influenced each other’s playing styles and melodies as jazz continued to evolve. Even today, jazz is a collaborative musical style with huge influences from a myriad of genres.

Jazz is identified by its improvisation, which lends itself well to a continued evolution that transcends time. Today’s jazz is influenced by Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and plenty of other mid-century musicians.

It also incorporates an array of contemporary techniques where more than one style dominates the genre. There’s jazz-funk, smooth jazz, punk jazz, jazz rap, and much more.


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