How do you listen to Jazz?

I realize it’s a funny and rudimentary question - especially since I’ve enjoyed listening to Jazz here and there for years.

But some people absolutely LOVE Jazz and listen to it a LOT.

To me - it seems a bit random, like literally - random. It seems that it revels in being deliberately unpredictable.

If listening to Classical is like a great audiobook - Jazz is like listening to a fascinating podcast unfold.

It occurred to me that it really must require a certain different mode of listening, switching your brain and ears into a different gear than the gear used for listening to ‘classical’ music.

Does anyone here listen to a lot of Jazz and can you explain how your listening shifts, and which elements of it really scratch an itch that other classical music can’t.

Once you’ve learned enough jazz theory/harmony to understand why improvisation is so difficult, you’ll start to see there’s nothing random about it. It helps to know the music well, be familiar with the changes etc.

Honestly, I’m always more impressed with great jazz artists than I am with classical artists. Jazz is more alive than Classical could ever be, but it very much requires a deep foundation of musical study as well as an ability to exist purely in the moment.

Try listening to Clifford Brown. His solos tend to be very classical (almost baroque) in nature, and they’re always very methodical and contextual.

I’d start posting more Jazz recs, if only I knew someone would DL and listen to them.



da canadian :sunglasses:

Yeah I remember your mammoth Oscar Peterson tribute posting of recs. I did listen to some and enjoyed them, but never came back to them often.

I’d always say I like jazz but I never grew to love it. I guess the question I’m asking with this thread is -
is it just a matter of taste and - should people who don’t love Jazz just trust their instincts and accept that it isn’t for them, OR should they persist in their quest to ‘get’ it and finally fall in love with it.

I respect and like Jazz, but I frustratingly don’t quite love it.

Having said that I do love certain Tatum and Peterson recs, and select Jazz influenced Classical pieces.

I’d say a deeper understand should lead to a deeper love of the genre. If you listen to Jazz and all you hear is random notes, there’s nothing to keep you coming back. Same as when you listen to Webern for the first time. But, once you understand what it all means and where the narrative is going, you’ll appreciate it more.

Find a jazz solo or two and do a transcription. I guarantee that’ll help you get into the mind of the soloist more than listening ever could. I took a Jazz theory course when I was a music major - theory and transcribing is pretty much all we did. It pays off big time.

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This may be true but did you already have a degree of love for the sound of jazz before studying it?

I think you’re right, studying anything with more depth will increase understanding and appreciation of something, but I don’t know if it could bring someone to love something they didn’t already have an attraction to.

I don’t hear jazz as just random notes…I hear lines, phrases, all of that.

It’s just that for example when you hear a Beethoven work for the first time - it’s unexpected, but then it makes total sense and comes together after each listen, then it sounds utterly inevitable, etched in stone.

Contrast that with Jazz recordings…I listen back, and I know it was improvised…but there is never that feeling you get in Classical music where it feels like it couldn’t have gone a dozen other ways and been just as interesting. With Classical - Beethoven convinces you his way was the only way, the best way.

Jazz musicians are great but they haven’t expressed something eternal to me, it feels ephemeral.

I understand Jarrett’s Köln concert was improvised and is listened to time and time again - considered a classic. But would someone really put it up alongside Bach&Beethoven?

Legit question, i’m not meaning to deride Jazz, just trying to understand it’s appeal and how the appeal of it contrasts and differs from the appeal of Classical.

I think great jazz can approach this level, but obviously routinely falls short. But you can’t compare the product of these two art forms, just as you wouldn’t hold a freestyle rap battle to the standard of Shakespeare. They express entirely different things… So while Jazz rarely displays the kind of perfection of form and narrative that classical can, classical rarely provides the immediacy and uncertainty of jazz.

So I’d say try to appreciate Jazz on its own merits, rather than holding it to a different, incompatible standard.


With me it went this way: the more I listened to Jazz, knew about its structure, patterns, rhytms, harmonies…
the more I got bored with it.
I think the language is one-dimensional, for me, as an artform it lacks depth.
I hardly listen to it anymore, and to me, the greatest merit of Jazz (the genre as a whole) is that it contributed to new styles of “classical music”, in the sense that some really great composers were influenced by it.

I’d love to hear a selection of your favorite jazz piano solos.

All I’ve heard is Tatum, Peterson, da MONK n Hancock


Not all solos, but, you might like some of these:

da jazz fundation iz "why bothah inventin melody, juz play zcalez :sunglasses: "

da rezpecable zheeyat in jazz iz


a thing dat white people CAN’T have az da @Harrison zelection demonstratez

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Gosh, it’s all so clear now :dong:

Btw, Van Halen - da tru comme opinions?

Van Halen is amazing, although the lyrical content is mostly super shallow. EVH’s style is inimitable, even if you know all his tricks (tapping, pinch harmonics, tremolo picking, synocation etc). I found it way easier to play Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne etc.

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Oh, you’re an ex-guitarist too?

I asked since I’ve never heard Van Halen, but I still have them on my to-check list way back in my head since both my guitar teacher and a friend working at the music store in my home town were huge fans.

Yeah during my early to mid teens I was more of a guitarist (classical and electric) than a pianist. Eventually piano took over and I didn’t wanna waste time practising another instrument. For VH, I’d start with the the first album and 1984 (I’d avoid the live stuff on youtube until you’re familiar with the songs).


I’ll take a look.

I was a guitarist too (electric only) up to 13, when I switched almost literally over night to piano - and I never looked back. Not really because taste changed or because I lost interest, I still like what I liked then, but rather because I found something which was more interesting in piano.

I’m half way through 1984 now. It turns out I had heard Van Halen after all since I certainly recognized Jump. I enjoyed that, but the rest has either been too glammy or too casual for me.

The first album is better for mine. I don’t think the keyboard sounds in 1984 have aged well, but the guitar is eternal. The music is all pretty shallow, as I mentioned before.