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The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
March 9, 2018



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Jazz has often been called “America’s Classical music” but not all of us agree. Some believe Jazz is a strong enough genre that it can stand on its own. If fact, many feel it’s an insult to compare Jazz to Classical. However, others think it’s a compliment and by doing so, Jazz is given a proper place among some of the world’s greatest music. Where do you stand on this issue?



Here’s an excerpt of an article New York Times reporter, Jon Pareles wrote on this very topic: “Don’t Call Jazz America’s Classical Music”


In bygone decades, conflating jazz and classical music had some remedial effect; it helped non-musicians understand that jazz is a serious discipline, and helped jazz make headway in institutions, with its media image and among arts donors. Now, the equation of jazz and classical music only interferes with drawing new listeners and helping them understand what they hear.


Although Jazz and Classical music are different in many ways, they do have common traits. Generally speaking, they stand apart from the pop music world as they are both considered serious art forms.




Their compositions contain depth and complexity and present many layers of content, often giving them lasting appeal. The music demands that their performers are required to be highly trained, with many of them considered virtuosos who are respected worldwide. Their respective audiences tend to be well informed and are inclined to study the history and background of the music.



Unlike pop and folk based music, both genres are often instrumental, and categorized as long-form developmental music. This means their basic structure consists of having an exposition, followed by a developmental section and concluding with a recapitulation.



But Jazz and Classical music are completely different in many other ways, and it’s the music itself that makes them so different.  Classical music is almost always written with fixed compositions, while Jazz favors improvisation and individual interpretation. Classical is composer driven while Jazz is more performer driven.


The great orchestral leader and composer, Duke Ellington, left, performing with tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves (center), who’s taking one of his famous solos, at the 1960 Monterey Jazz Festival.  Photo:



Jazz is more contemporary and mostly rooted in African folk forms, with pentatonic and/or blues scales, and complex syncopated rhythms. Classical has its roots in Western European styles, which are based on a centuries-old diatonic-scales and more basic rhythms and “even” time signatures.




“Award-winning saxophonist, Kamasi Washington, has brought worldwide attention to LA’s current Jazz scene…”

Photo: LA Weekly



Jazz is fresh with each performance with musicians extemporaneously composing in real time through the use of improvisation whereas  Classical performances are traditionally based on pre-composed material, revitalizing scores from years (or centuries) past.







Regardless of which side you are on, it’s an interesting debate as to where to place Jazz within the world of music. Jazz stands alone as an American art form that is not only the most significant and influential genre of the 20th century, it is also one of the most important genres in the history of music. Jazz is a major part of America’s cultural identity.






Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.



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