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Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation.

Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music.

But critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt argues that its terms of reference and its definition should be broader,".

Jazz involves "a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role" and contains a "sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician".

In the 1930s, heavily arranged dance-oriented swing big bands, Kansas City jazz, a hard-swinging, bluesy, improvisational style and Gypsy jazz (a style that emphasized musette waltzes) were the prominent styles.

Bebop emerged in the 1940s, shifting jazz from danceable popular music toward a more challenging "musician's music" which was played at faster tempos and used more chord-based improvisation.

White jazz musicians appeared in the in the midwest and in other areas throughout the U. Papa Jack Laine, who ran the Reliance band in New Orleans in the 1910s, was called "the father of white jazz".

New Orleans jazz began in the early 1910s, combining earlier brass-band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation.

Modal jazz abandoned chord progressions to allow musicians to improvise even more.

In many forms of jazz, a soloist is supported by a rhythm section of one or more chordal instruments (piano, guitar), double bass, and drums.

Duke Ellington, one of jazz's most famous figures, said, "It's all music." The centrality of improvisation is attributed to the influence of earlier forms of music such as blues, a form of folk music which arose in part from the work songs and field hollers of African-American slaves on plantations.

These work songs were commonly structured around a repetitive call-and-response pattern, but early blues was also improvisational.

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