Adorno in his twenties studied with Berg,directed the radical Viennese music periodical"Anbruch" thus believing that the best modern music fulfils the needs of our time. He points out that this is achieved through the music' problematic nature, its obscurity, its social isolation and since being a Marxist himself, music' relationship is essentially dialectical with society. This relationship is complex, at times contradictory and is marked by antithesis as well as agreement.
For Adorno, all music today is either Avant-garde or it is Kitsch, govern by the law of profit.For him the path for modern music is the path of meaninglessness – to adopt the traditional modes of expression, worn out and therefore untrue, would be dishonest.
Jazz music, for Adorno, is nothing more than the embodiment of commercial manipulation. In his essay,' Perennial Fashion—Jazz' (Prisms-83), he tells us that Jazz has remained static in its essence. It is a form of manneristic interpretation and like fashion, what is important is show and not the thing itself. Its regular 4/4 beat, its collective practices of dance and ritual-all are synonymous with its monotonous attraction. Instead of Jazz music being 'composed' light music, Adorno asserts that what has been dressed up is its most dismal products of the popular song industry. Therefore, the perennial sameness of jazz music lies in the limitations placed on metre, harmony and its form and ends up routine without any spontaneity or improvisational features which are merely frills. They, the mere frills, are carefully planned out in advance as well –defined tricks to the exclusion of everything else.
While Adorno' view on Jazz music relates to the 1948's, he would be less antagonistic to it in its various forms today. Perhaps in today's Jazz music, Adorno could find a healthier dialectic in both American and European developments in such groups as Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas and Greg Osby (American) Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Tony Oxley (British) and Louis Sclavis, Mederic Collignon (France) and Octurn(Belguim) to mention just a few who are continuing the existence of a radical modern music In fact, Adorno would value the advanced contemporary jazz scene today as it is in essence still a genuinely marginal music and as such avoids the pitfalls of that 'perennial fashion', that category of the popular song industry that he so detested. Lets hope to the spirit of Adorno that he would find in today's jazz, a music at once complex, contradictory but honest.