Video: Orbert Davis on Third Stream, the Intersection of Jazz and Classical

As the co-founder and artistic director of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Orbert Davis efforts to bring together the worlds of jazz and classical music.

"When you think about that title, Jazz Philharmonic. I thought 'Philharmonic' was classical. Yes it is. It's a jazz symphony orchestra," he tells us in the video above. "It's almost like oil and water, that we think, They're not supposed to be together, but it works."

While composers and musicians borrowed from both genres long before anyone put a name to it, prominent jazz artists like Gunther Schuller, Miles Davis, and more explored the intersection of jazz and classical in earnest in the 1950s and '60s.

Schuller called it "third stream music," the combination of classical composition techniques with jazz improvisation. "It is a way of making music that holds that all musics are created equal, coexisting in a beautiful brotherhood/sisterhood of musics that complement and fructify each other," Schuller once wrote.

In our video above, Orbert Davis says that third stream is more prominent today than people may realize. It's "[in] commercials and movies, it's all there. But it's based on the human emotion, and sometimes the right emotion, we can't find it in one genre," he says. Groups like his Chicago Jazz Philharmonic have a large repertoire to pull from and advance.

Davis, a celebrated trumpet player, shows off a few differences between classical and jazz, but shows how their techniques can be used together.

By staying loose, listening intently, and staying open to new discoveries, you can combine the emotional response of classical, avant-garde impulses, traditional blues, and more into your own compositions, performances, and styles. Visit the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic website to learn more about their music, education programs, and upcoming performances.

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