Was chuffed to be asked to write a piece for the May edition of glossy mag Elle on appreciating jazz. If you missed the issue, check out the blurb below..

How To Dig Jazz – A Beginner’s Guide

For the uninitiated, Jazz can seem like a hot complicated mess. Chelsea Wilson, Jazz Vocalist and Artistic Director of Stonnington Jazz Festival breaks down some key points to know for your Jazz outing:

Audience Etiquette: To quote Duke Ellington, ‘Jazz is freedom of expression’. Jazz champions improvisation. So unlike other music genres, jazz musicians are expected to improvise for a portion of each song. It’s kind of like the guitar solo in rock music, except in jazz the musicians will play the solo differently every time (depending on the ‘vibe’ man) and everyone in the band gets a turn to shine, not just the guitarist. The audience etiquette is to clap at the end of each solo. Cheering or calling out ‘yeah!’ during the solo sections is welcome. Chatting over the top of the solo to your friends or texting on your phone is not.

Scat Style: In Jazz, the singers also get to improvise! Whenever you hear ‘scat’ syllables (eg. ba-dup, scooby-doo-wah) this means that the singer is taking a turn at having a solo. (It doesn’t mean they have forgotten the words, although if they do forget the words, scat is the go-to cover up plan).

The Importance of the 2 and 4: Jazz musicians are largely responsible for the invention of the backbeat. So if you want to clap or click along to the groove, make sure it is on the 2 and 4 of the bar to avoid a fine from the jazz police.

Dress Code: Jazz is the original cool. So look sharp! Pinstripe, tailoring, and smart millenary pieces are approved but not essential. Leave shorts, sportswear and flip flops at home.

by Chelsea Wilson