Academic Jazz Pt.1

What is a Jazz Standard?
The terms "standard" and "jazz standard" are often used when one is referring to popular and jazz music compositions.  A quick search of the internet reveals, however, that the definitions of these terms can vary widely. So what is a standard?  Comparing definitions from a number of dictionaries and music scholars and basing a definition on the points on which they are in agreement, it is reasonable to state:
A "standard" is a composition that is held in continuing esteem and is commonly used in musical repertoires.
A "jazz standard" is a composition that is held in continuing esteem and is commonly used as the basis of jazz arrangements and improvisations.
Sometimes the term "jazz standard" is used to imply a jazz composition that has become a standard. Words and phrases often have multiple valid meanings and this term is no exception. At this site we will use the definition having the more general acceptance, one that allows compositions from any origin.  To better understand our decision, consider the contents of the following sheet music collection titled Jazz Standards:

Series: Paperback Songs
Composer : Various

110 classics, including: All the things You Are • Autumn in New York • Bewitched • Cry Me a River • Don't Get Around Much Anymore • A Fine Romance • I Can't Get Started With You • I've Got You Under My Skin • The Lady Is a Tramp • Manhattan • Misty • My Funny Valentine • Old Devil Moon • Prelude to a Kiss • Route 66 • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes • There's a Small Hotel • When Sunny Gets Blue • You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To • and more.

Clearly the majority of these "jazz standards" were not originally jazz compositions.  When music publishers include the term "jazz standards" in a description or title they almost always are referring to compositions used as the foundation for jazz arrangements or improvisations, regardless of whether or not they were written by a jazz composer.
In general, music authors and theorists also favor the broader definition.  Will Friedwald, in his book Stardust Melodies, comments how Coleman Hawkins did more than anyone else to establish Johnny Green's "Body and Soul" as an all-time jazz standard. In Listening to Class American Popular Songs, Allen Forte, author and Battell Professor of the Theory of Music at Yale University, refers to Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight" as a jazz standard, a song that was introduced by Fred Astaire in the RKO musical Swing Time.

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