When people think of culture in New Orleans they think of the magic of the bayou, they think of Cajun cooking, and they think of jazz music. Indeed, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant has just opened up in Florida, the Voodoo Bayou. New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz music – and still converts many visitors each year to the sounds of real jazz, the kind that Louisiana natives play with vigor. Giving us heroes of music such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden, and Joe ‘King’ Oliver, New Orleans has spent the past century exporting its jazz culture around the world. But how popular is jazz in modern life?
Jazz Influences in Music Today
Hip hop is a modern genre that has been largely influenced by jazz. We can see this on the surface as jazz is heavily sampled in a lot of other songs – mostly from the hip hop genre. According to a website that tracks which songs are sampled, Miles Davis has been sampled 146 times, George Benson 176 times, and Herbie Hancock 282 times. Both genres use the technique of improvisation, with a recurring beat that has lyrics laid over it.
Rock acts also took a huge amount of inspiration from jazz. Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin alone were heavily influenced by jazz music. The use of extending chords with additional chord tones was a feature of both jazz and rock music. David Bowie’s final album took influence from jazz by utilizing jazz contemporaries and giving users a unique experience when listening, which other genres don’t do.
Jazz in Pop Culture
Indeed, jazz music remains popular throughout the world and throughout pop culture. 2014’s Oscar-nominated film Whiplash looked at jazz music in a modern setting, while the 2010-2013 New Orleans-based TV series Treme featured elements of jazz music as the backdrop to the series. La La Land (2016) also featured jazz heavily, with many numbers performed by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone taking direct influence from jazz.
Jazz is even a recognizable theme in gaming. You can find a SugarHouse Bonus online to play games such as The Big Easy slot game, which features elements of New Orleans-inspired jazz. The game takes motifs and audio cues from the genre and helps those who might not actively listen to jazz music to get involved. The app Jazz: Trump’s Journey takes influence from 1920s New Orleans for the 2D side-scrolling platform game as you try to recruit other musicians to play jazz with you. The game helps deliver the elements of jazz in a fun and educational manner.
New Orleans may be the birthplace of jazz, but it was quickly whisked around the world. Elements of jazz from as far back as the 1920s can still be seen in modern life today. We have music directly or indirectly influenced by the genre, we have games that take elements of jazz as their themes, and we have films and TV series that showcase the wonders of jazz.