How Jazz Has Influenced Some Of Your Favorite Rock Musicians

Birdland Jazz Club
Oct 26, 2018 · 2 min read

If the topic of Pink Floyd or the Beatles comes up in conversation, it is probably not a chat about jazz music. While these legendary performers are known to be rock stars, it may be shocking to know how much jazz artists like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong influenced rock songs like “Time” and “Honey Pie.” These classic rock anthems share similar stylistic elements with the distinctive tones and rhythmic patterns that is jazz.

A Brief History of Jazz

In the early years of the twentieth century, the population of New Orleans was a blend of individuals from all areas of the world. Musical traditions of all kinds ― blues, ragtime, and more ― blended into a new sound, known to be the earliest form of jazz. Initially, the style was played in dance halls, but after the first recordings hit vinyl in 1917, the sound flowed to the mainstream.

Some of the big names of the time were:

− Miles Davis.

Charlie Parker.

Louis Armstrong.

− Duke Ellington.

The Influence of Jazz Grows

The influence of jazz still resonates more than a hundred years after those first notes called couples out onto the dance floor. With significant influence in every genre of music, jazz particularly impacts rock and roll.

Donald Fager and Walter Becker formed the rock band, Steely Dan, with a signature sound distinctively drawn from jazz. Modern hip-hop draws heavily from jazz as well. Whether it be an influence of tone or unique sounds, many hip-hop artists merge the classic musical style into their work. American hip-hop collective group A Tribe Called Quest brought in jazz masters Robert Glasper and Kurt Rosenwinkel to join them on their album “The Renaissance.”

Appreciating Jazz

Some of the most famous rock musicians in the world, Elvis Presley most notably, counted jazz as primary influences in their music. Modern-day anthems from Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones all have their roots in jazz. Having begun as a melting pot of culture, jazz stood as the influence and foundation of our favorite songs today.

Expanding your knowledge of the world of jazz enhances your ability to enjoy music from other genres. When you understand where your favorite music evolved from, you gain a new appreciation for the evolution. To experience the latest iteration of the music that began so long ago, visit Birdland and check out the latest in live jazz performances.

Image: Piotr Piatrouski

Birdland Jazz Club

Written by

Established in 1949, the NYC jazz club Charlie Parker called, “The Jazz Corner of the World.” Edited by Ryan Paternite. Submissions:

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