A jazz musician is a person who creates or composes jazz music, which is a specific genre of music that dates back to the early 20th century. This style of music has a very distinctive sound, though an exact definition can be difficult to form. Jazz has elements of other types of music such as blues and ragtime, and a jazz musician is likely to have extensive knowledge of and skill in playing these types of music. The musician may be a jazz singer or a musician who plays a musical instrument.
If a person makes a living off of playing music, he or she is generally considered to be a professional. Professional musicians often travel around the world or around specific regions of the world to spread their music, promote an album, or simply play shows to get paid. Other musicians may play as a hobby. Proficiency in playing this genre of music is the main defining point of becoming a jazz musician, regardless of whether the musician is making a living off the practice.
It is not uncommon for a jazz musician to form a band with other musicians. Each member of the band will either sing or play an instrument, and all the musicians in the band will play together to form a distinct sound. Playing together takes a significant amount of skill and practice, even more so than playing alone, since timing becomes crucial in ensuring a quality sound overall. A jazz band or group may consist of two or more members; vocalists are usually a part of the group, as are drummers. Guitarists may play in the band, as can bassists, pianists, saxophonists, trumpeters, and so on.
Subgenres of the jazz genre have developed over the years; nu-jazz and acid jazz combine modern elements such as synthesizers with more traditional sounds to create an entirely different jazz sound overall. Smooth jazz is a mellow style of jazz that creates relaxing sounds for the listener. Jazzcore, on the other hand, combines elements of jazz music with elements of heavy metal. Punk jazz combines jazz sounds with punk rock music, which creates a heavier, more frenetic sound; this is directly the opposite sound as smooth jazz, though it is lively like some traditional forms of jazz.