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Nu jazz
Stylistic origins Jazz-funk
Jazz fusion
Free funk
Electro music
House music
Jazz rap
Free improvisation
Acid jazz
Cultural origins Mid-1990s USA, United Kingdom, Mexico, and Brazil.
Typical instruments Electric bass guitarAnalog synthesizersElectric pianoSaxophoneTrumpetTrombonePianoGuitarDrumsTurntablesSoftware
Mainstream popularity Moderate
Other topics
Illbient - Industrial hip-hop - Trip hop

Nu jazz is an umbrella term coined in the late 1990s to refer to music that blends jazz elements with other musical styles, such as funk, soul, electronic dance music, and free improvisation[1]. Also written nü-jazz or NuJazz, it is sometimes called electronic jazz, electro-jazz, e-jazz, jazztronica, jazz house, phusion, "neo-jazz" or future jazz.

According to critic Tony Brewer,

Nu Jazz is to (traditional) Jazz what punk or grunge was to Rock, of course. [...] The songs are the focus, not the individual prowess of the musicians. Nu Jazz instrumentation ranges from the traditional to the experimental, the melodies are fresh, and the rhythms new and alive. It makes Jazz fun again.



Nu jazz ranges from combining live instrumentation with beats of jazz house (exemplified by the French St Germain, the German Jazzanova and Fila Brazillia from the UK) to more band-based improvised jazz with electronic elements (such as that of the The Cinematic Orchestra from the UK, the Belgian PhusionCulture, Mexican duo Kobol, and the Norwegian "future jazz" style pioneered by Bugge Wesseltoft, Jaga Jazzist, Nils Petter Molvær, and others).

Nu jazz typically ventures farther into the electronic territory than does its close cousin, acid jazz (or groove jazz), which is generally closer to earthier funk, soul, and rhythm and blues, although releases from noted groove & smooth jazz artists such as the Groove Collective, and Pamela Williams blur the distinction between the styles. Nu jazz can be very experimental in nature and can vary widely in sound and concept. The sound, unlike its cousin Acid Jazz, departs from its blues roots and instead explores electronic sounds and ethereal jazz sensualities. Nu Jazz “is the music itself and not the individual dexterity of the musicians.” [4] Often, Nu Jazz blends elements of traditional Jazz texture with that of modern electronic music and free improvisation, thus, the music can truly evolve into a multitude of sounds and can vary greatly from artist to artist. The style can include broken rhythms, atonal harmonies, and improvised melody. [5] [6] Matthew Shipp and others demonstrate styles coined as “jazztronica” or "electro-jazz". [7]


Nu jazz emerged from the use of electronic instruments in production in the 1970s work of such luminaries as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Ornette Coleman. Hancock's early 1980s work with Bill Laswell, in particular, such as the album Future Shock, anticipated the style in its incorporation of electro and hip-hop rhythms. Beginning in the late '80s, many hip-hop musicians worked in the jazz rap style -- among them, Gang Starr, The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, and Nas. Also in the 1980s, many house musicians took inspiration from jazz, particularly post-bop and jazz funk.
In the mid-'90s and early 2000s, musicians from the downtempo scene, St Germain, DJ takemura, Perry Hemus and Jazzanova among them, began to delve more deeply into jazz. In the same period, intelligent dance music producers -- most famously Squarepusher and Spring Heel Jack, and later London Elektricity and Landslide -- took a similar interest. Techno musicians, such as Laurent Garnier, Carl Craig and his Innerzone Orchestra project, have also touched on nu jazz. Some figures from the digital hardcore and breakcore scenes, notably Alec Empire, Nic Endo, and Venetian Snares, have explored a harder, noiser variant on the style. A decade later, some dubstep producers, such as Boxcutter, also explored electronic jazz.

While still embracing the traditional forms of Jazz, pianist Bugge Wesseltoft and trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær are known for their improvisational nu jazz style. The Cinematic Orchestra is also known for incorporating a traditional jazz band while fusing electronic elements into their music production.[2] St. Germain, a purveyor of nu jazz music, has sold 1.5 million copies of his Tourist album, thus making it the top-selling jazz album in the United States.[3]


Thirsty Ear is a record label which released recordings by many Nu Jazz artists. These include William Parker, Antipop Consortium, Tim Berne, Meat Beat Manifesto, Sex Mob, Nils Petter Molvaer, Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn, DJ Spooky, and Spring Heel Jack.

Nu Jazz is also often associated with Ninja Tune, as many Nu Jazz artists are signed with this music label. Artists signed to Ninja Tune include The Cinematic Orchestra, Funki Porcini, The Herbaliser, Jaga Jazzist, Pest, Skalpel, and Up, Bustle and Out.

Notable Artist

See also



  1. ^ Definition from Sergey Chernov, June 7, 2002, in The St. Petersburg Times [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]

External links



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