For better or for worse, jazz has been in a constant state of change since the day it was born.
Whether it was the sounds of the Swing Era giving birth to bebop, or new ideas in the late '50s like "third stream" or "free jazz," or the various "fusions" of the late '60s and '70s, improvisers' creative ambitions have never been limited. The idea of rearranging something old or forging new territory has always been part of jazz's spirit.
Jazz audiences haven't always been ready for these new directions. Each of the ideas listed above met with some resistance and, at times, indifference and criticism from the old guard. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were derided in their day for playing new styles of music, which is important to remember as we take a look at trends happening now.
So what about today? What new strains are emerging from jazz? And who is forging the new boundaries, exploring unexamined territories of this music? The answer to these questions can be elusive.
Submitted for your enjoyment, here are five new steps in the ongoing evolution of jazz. Seasoned fans will note that these sounds incorporate elements and ideas from the jazz tradition within their frameworks. They are not counter to the ideals of its history; rather, they serve as a part of its continuum.
Matt Fleeger is the program director of KMHD in Portland, Ore., and the host of New Jazz for Lunch.