Jazz is distinctively American music, both in flavor and in origin. Created in the southern United States, jazz is often called “the great American art form”, and the creative, interactive, unscripted (almost democratic) elements of jazz, as well as its diversity and the blend of various traditions and cultures out of which jazz was born, make it truly American.
The exact definition of jazz remains the center of a vibrant and passionate debate amongst jazz experts, a fact which is perfectly reflective of the very nature and heart of jazz. Rather than being guided by set formulas and parameters, jazz is an ever-evolving, dynamic, and living art form. However, there are several classical attributes that are part of jazz and make it unique. Jazz music has “swing” (another term with no exact definition), which refers to the lilting, moving, irregular rhythm which immediately makes jazz music distinguishable. Unlike classical and most other forms of music, which follow music compositions of precisely chosen musical notes, jazz involves a great amount of interaction and improve between artists. It has been said that no piece of jazz is ever played exactly the same twice.
Being a genre of music which rejects restrictions and rigid rules, many instruments can be used in jazz, but the most common include the trumpet, the saxophone, the piano, the trombone, the clarinet, the double bass, the drums, and sometimes less common instruments like the banjo, conga, or tuba. Jazz may or not include singing, and is not a monolithic music genre but made up multiple subgenres, like swing or big band. Some jazz singers and players have become icons of America, weaving its way into the fabric of American culture, and in turn, of the world. As one famous American jazz saxophonist once said, “Jazz does not belong to one race or culture, but is a gift that America has given the world (Ahmad Alaadeen).”