Understanding Signature Jazz soundscape instruments
By Zuko Komisa
The evolution of Jazz as we know it came full circle in the 1950s through innovators we still look to for inspiration and clever techniques in the styles of today. This was largely made possible by the creativty that came with the use of the instrument that brought us this uniques sound.
Musicians of that era made some of the biggest selling Jazz records in history. These were offerings from the likes of Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck who all made incredible contributions to the tapestry of colourful soundcape of jazz we hear today.
These were the key instruments used during the era that pushed Jazz to new height of innovation, groove and beauty.
The trumpet played a key role and was always a prominent feature in traditional Jazz bands. Trumpets were used to enforce the structure of the performance, somewhat as a signal to what was next within the performance and the order of solo ensembles.
Alto & Baritone Saxophone
These were the sexy deep sounds in the bands, whose role was punctuating the rhythm and structure of the arrangement.
Though this instrument was popular with Afro-Latin, Caribbean bands, it also made a feature during this era and its role was purely to signal a rhythmic framework, which you typically hear when bands have a repetitive melodies.
The French horn has a piercing emotive sound, you can hear the French Horn throughout Miles Davis’ “Birth of the Cool”
Other instruments that played a big role during this era included the tuba, piano, bass and drums.