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The Boston Music Scene: The Difference Between Jazz And Blues

Jazz and blues music are truly American art forms, and Boston is a great place to hear both. To help us better understand the genres, Bradley Jay explores the difference between the two in Part 8 of The Boston Music Scene

BOSTON (CBS) – In addition to his duties as WBZ morning news anchor, Joe Mathieu is a bona fide guitar player, and he is well-versed in the nuances of jazz and blues.

"The difference between blues and jazz is a hard one to answer," says Mathieu.

But as jazz and blues are elemental to Boston's musical panorama, an understanding of the relationship of the two genres is essential.

"Blues is the very basic American roots blues structure," Mathieu strums his guitar and explains. "It's based on three chords. Jazz is based on that, but it adds many layers of complexity with chords and anticipatory chords. We end up in the same place, but we take a different route to get there."

But the differences don't end there.

"You also use different scales to improvise on it," continues Mathieu. "A jazz riff might take it in a different direction, but you end up in the same place. There are multiple layers of ad-libbing and improv with different musicians in a band. If you are watching a good jazz band, it's five, six or seven pieces and they're all ad-libbing at the same time, weaving these different spontaneous lines of melody into one great piece. That's when jazz is working,  but there are so many different kinds of jazz that I could answer this in a lot of different ways."

Next time Bradley Jay takes a look at how Boston's idiosyncrasies put their stamp on the music that the city produces to provide an unmatched musical environment.


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