Concerts That Changed Jazz

John Fordham presents a guide to jazz performances that had a significance outside jazz, and signalled a change, a beginning or an end of a movement or era.


01From Spiritual To Swing20070428In 1938 at the Carnegie Hall, John Hammond presented the first jazz concert given in a prestigious concert venue and that was recorded, thus moving the music out of the speakeasy and blazing a trail for the Jazz at the Phil and Ellington Carnegie Hall concerts.

It was the first to acknowledge the importance of the black history of jazz and one of the first to flaunt black and white performers on the same stage, at that time a very radical move.

0220070505Jazz at the Philharmonic started in 1944 at the LA Philharmonic Hall and by the end of World War II had become a significant presence on the American jazz scene, reflecting founder Norman Granz's enthusiasm for jam sessions and small band swing.

But a session in 1946 was the first to feature new boppers such as Charlie Parker, whose fiery performance of Lady Be Good, a song Lester Young had made his own, was so radically powerful that none of the swing generation musicians would follow him onstage.

It was the point at which the jazz mantle was publicly, and embarrassingly, handed on to a new generation.

03Miles At The Isle Of Wight20070512Miles Davis was already making the transition to jazz rock, but the 1970 Isle of Wight Rock Festival was the first time he appeared alongside the big names of rock, such as Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Joan Baez.

He delivered an electrifying set that firmly established him and his new image as a major attraction on the international rock circuit.

04 LASTKeith Jarrett: The Koln Concert20070519Keith Jarrett had been at the heart of the Miles Davis jazz rock revolution but his performance on a substandard piano was to transform the direction of jazz and the fortunes of the tiny record label ECM, making not only acoustic but chamber jazz an acceptable route for improvising musicians.

Like Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, the record became a classic that appealed to an audience outside the jazz constituency.