Here at Lubricity, I’m hoping to corral the wisdom of the Jazz Internet to try and get a finger on the big question that always plagues the jazz community.  Please, leave a comment here by finishing the sentence that begins “Jazz is …”

Here are a couple to get you started:

James Lincoln Collier:

… a music created mainly by African-Americans in the early 20th century through an amalgamation of elements drawn from European-American and tribal African musics.

Mark Tucker:

… a musical tradition rooted in performing conventions that were introduced and developed early in the 20th century by African Americans; a set of attitudes and assumptions brought to music-making, chief among them the notion of performance as a fluid creative process involving improvisation; and a style characterized by syncopation, melodic and harmonic elements derived from the blues, cyclical formal structures and a supple rhythmic approach to phrasing known as swing.

Stanley Crouch:

… an art, not a subjective phenomenon.

Duke Ellington:

… music; swing is business.

Adam Schatz:

… back — in zombie form.

Nicholas Payton:

… a lie.


… a definition-resistant musical tradition.  (What a great cop-out, right?)

I look forward to reading your responses.  Witty or serious, comprehensive or reductive, long or short, I just want to see how you finish that sentence: “Jazz is …”