It swings, it’s blue, it’s precise, it explores. It can soothe or excite, make you dance or weep. Welcome to the diverse and ever-evolving world of jazz.

The story of jazz, America’s great contribution to the history of music, would fill volumes. Forming early in the twentieth century out of a New Orleans stew of blues and ragtime, jazz was originally dance music rooted in the lives and culture of African Americans. But its defining character of ‘blue’ notes and improvised solos means that from its earliest days, jazz has been appreciated and analysed by both fans and scholars.

Jazz has spread and morphed continuously over its century long history, with the sub-genres becoming bewildering. Styles include vocal jazz (Billie Holiday), be-bop (Charlie Parker), free jazz (Ornette Coleman), spiritual jazz (later John Coltrane) and jazz-rock (Weather Report). Of course, some artists—the legendary Miles Davis springs immediately to mind—have swum in almost every ocean. Take a dip with Discrepancy Records’ recommendations. [BJ]