Indie jazz is a genre that combines elements of indie rock and jazz, creating a unique sound that blends the improvisational nature of jazz with the DIY ethos of indie music. It emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a response to the mainstream jazz scene, which was often seen as inaccessible and disconnected from contemporary culture.
The origins of indie jazz can be traced back to artists like John Zorn and The Lounge Lizards in the 1980s who were experimenting with blending different genres. However, it wasn't until the rise of bands like The Bad Plus and Medeski Martin & Wood in the late 1990s that indie jazz started gaining recognition as its own distinct genre.
One key characteristic of indie jazz is its emphasis on experimentation and pushing boundaries. Artists often incorporate unconventional song structures, unexpected chord progressions, and eclectic instrumentation into their music. This willingness to break traditional jazz conventions has allowed indie jazz to appeal to a wider audience beyond traditional jazz enthusiasts.
Over time, indie jazz has evolved and diversified, incorporating influences from various musical styles such as electronic music, hip-hop, folk, and world music. This fusion has led to subgenres within indie jazz like electro-jazz, nu-jazz, and chamber jazz.
Several significant artists have contributed to the development of indie jazz. The Bad Plus gained critical acclaim with their album "These Are the Vistas" (2003), which featured inventive covers of popular songs alongside original compositions. Their blend of complex improvisation with accessible melodies helped popularize indie jazz among younger listeners.
Another influential artist in the genre is Brad Mehldau. His album "Largo" (2002) showcased his ability to seamlessly blend elements of pop, rock, classical music, and electronica into his compositions while still maintaining a strong foundation in improvisation.
In recent years, artists like Kamasi Washington have brought renewed attention to indie jazz with their ambitious and expansive works.