Modal jazz is a style of jazz music that emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It is characterized by the use of modes, which are musical scales that have a specific set of intervals. Modal jazz differs from traditional jazz in that it does not rely on the standard chord progressions or harmonic structures that were prevalent in earlier jazz styles.
Miles Davis is often credited as the pioneer of modal jazz, with his 1959 album “Kind of Blue” being one of the most influential and iconic works of the genre. Other prominent figures in the development of modal jazz include John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Bill Evans.
One of the defining features of modal jazz is the use of extended improvisation. Rather than having a soloist improvise over a set chord progression, modal jazz allows for longer periods of improvisation over a single chord or mode. This creates a more open and spacious sound, with an emphasis on melody and rhythm rather than harmony.
Another key aspect of modal jazz is the use of drones or ostinatos. These are repeated patterns or notes that provide a foundation for improvisation. The use of drones allows for a more meditative and hypnotic sound, and can create a sense of tension and release as the soloist interacts with the underlying pattern.
Modal jazz has had a lasting impact on the world of jazz and beyond. Its influence can be heard in the music of contemporary jazz musicians such as Kamasi Washington and Robert Glasper, as well as in other genres such as rock, electronic music, and hip-hop.
In conclusion, modal jazz is a style of jazz music characterized by the use of modes, extended improvisation, and drones. It emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s and has had a lasting impact on the world of jazz and beyond. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Bill Evans are among the most prominent figures in the development of the genre.