Jazz drumming has no precedent in music history. It is an original way of putting together and playing drums and cymbals, which introduced a new kind of virtuosity demanding independent coordination of all four limbs. The swinging time jazz drummers keep—whether 4/4 or not—is profound because that pulsation arrives as part of the only Western fine-art music given to melody, harmony and counterpoint in which the statement of the very meter itself, however syncopated, is a lively and thoughtful aesthetic aspect of the music.
Today there is a stereotyped idea of swing as a very narrow thing, but the fluidity of jazz time is exactly the reverse. This has misled some to believe that jazz time is metronomic. Jazz time is almost never metronomic.