Technical (boring) definition: Jazz is a now-unpopular genre of music, encompassing several distinct styles, developed for the most part by black men in American cities over the course of the 20th century. Jazz in general is characterized by the following:
-improvised solos (though they can also be written out beforehand, and, especially when recorded, are often somewhat planned out)
-a rhythm section consisting of bass, drums, piano and sometimes guitar
-bass lines which are improvised to fit the chords, usually with one note on every downbeat, and which rarely, if ever, stop
-an uneven style of playing eighth notes so that the downbeat lasts roughly twice as long as the upbeat (this is known as "swing" eight notes)
-extended chords (7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords) as pioneered by 19th century composers in the classical "impressionist" movement
-4/4 time
-the common lack of vocals
-2 common song forms: the traditional 32-bar AABA song form, and the 12-bar blues form

Colloquial (less boring) definitions:
“Jazz,” originally a noun used mainly in Harlem in the beginning of the 20th century to mean “sexual intercourse,” is also used as a verb in the phrase “to jazz (something) up,” meaning to add style, individuality, soul, or passion to something.
"If haven't figured it out by now, you'll never know."
-Louis Armstrong
"The say music speaks louder than words, so I'll just let the music speak for itself."
-Charlie Parker
Your place looks like you just moved in; you should jazz it up.
Kenny G is an insult to jazz.
by jazzriff October 10, 2005
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The only truth left in music.
Jazz... man. I wish people actually appreciated music for what it does to you mentally, and not what the singer does for you sexually.
by DrumUltimA May 17, 2004
To African Americans in the late nineteenth century, one literal sound of freedom was that of the military marching bands of the American Civil War. This music, combined with the Ragtime and blues styles that developed some time later, evolved to form one of the truly indigenous art forms of the United States. The "jas," or the Creole brothel, is thought to have been the birthplace as well as the namesake of the new sound of Jazz. Early traditional Jazz combined the complexity of Ragtime, the tight arrangement of marching band music, and the inventive, free spirit of the blues. It incorporated structured improvisations at its center while the band maintained a swing. The sound evolved dramatically throughout the twentieth century in various forms: from the New York City Bebop of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker to the Free Jazz of the Art Ensemble of Chicago; from the Fusion of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to the Hard Bop of Art Blakey. But throughout Jazz's great explorations, it has kept improvisation at its center, and as such it has always remained a music of freedom.
Jazz Musicians: Miles Davis, Arturo Sandoval, Maynard Ferguson, Louis Armstrong, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Russell Gunn, Wallace Roney, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Kermit Ruffins, Chet Baker, Erik Truffaz, Rick Braun, Philip Dizack, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Farmer, Al Hirt, Herb Alpert, William "Lee" Hogans, Don Cherry, Roy Eldridge, Dave Douglas, Astrud Gilberto, Sonny Rollins, Don Braden, David Sanborn, Billy Childs, Charles Mingus, Diana Krall, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Bob Berg, David "Fathead" Newman, Ben Webster, Art Blakey, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Donald Byrd, Ornette Coleman, Max Roach, Gene Krupa, Jimmy Cleveland, Donald Malloy, Stan Getz, Clifford Brown, Alex Sipiagin, Corey Wilkes, and Harry Connick Jr.
by ♫ Highway to Hell ♫ October 05, 2009
the coolest, freest, and yet deepest music humans have ever made
Listen to those crazy cats wailing out that sexy jazz.
by David Le Ber September 04, 2003
The greatest, and yet least appreciated genre of music today among the general public.
The original spelling of the word was "jass."
by MusicMonk414 March 11, 2004
A form of western music involving the fusion of traditional european and african (rhythmic) styles. Jazz is quite syncopated and fairly easily improvisable. Jazz could be considered a descendant of Ragtime, and a predecesor of Swing, Funk, and even Rock. Jazz originated from New Orleans as early as 1895, and remains one of the most popular forms of music today.
Listen to those crazzy cats wailing out that sexy jazz.
by Tal0n December 06, 2003
Jazz...the greatest musical genre there ever was, and ever will be. This music will always be the greatest. Jazz, along with Blues, and swing music, are all that is left of North American culture. Now, all that is left, is that shitty rap "music", if you even dare to call it that.
Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke...etc...
by John Callahan October 20, 2004
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