Jazz has always been a part of Black culture, but do you know the history of jazz music?
I grew up listening to jazz and attended many different jazz festivals, but I’ve never looked into the history of how it started!
If you can relate or you simply are just curious, keep reading to learn more about how jazz came to be!
The History Of Jazz Music
Before we jump right into the history of jazz, let’s first talk about what this style of music is!
What Is Jazz?
Jazz is a style of music that is infamous for improvisation and its very rhythmic sound.
The rhythmic sound comes from a deviation of swing music with an added twist of “bent” notes that are referred to as blues.
It’s very passionate, bold, and is filled with a lot of emotions.
There are so many songs that were built on pain and hurt, but also many that are meant to evoke happiness and make you dance!
Jazz simply makes you feel alive!
Like I stated before, improvisation is one of the most well known and unique qualities of jazz music.
Therefore, no artists are the same. They all have a distinguished sound because the artists are making the melodies and rhythms on the spot!
That takes a lot of talent to do and is one of the many reasons why jazz became such an acclaimed style of music.
Where Did Jazz Originate?
Jazz was first brought up in New Orleans through many years.
With being owned by the French until the Louisiana Purchase, the city’s culture became a mixture of both European and African customs which is known as Creole.
After slavery, African Americans were able to finally practice customs from their culture which included playing drums.
Over the years, Black musicians started to emerge playing instruments such as brass along with drums.
These musicians played solo at bars in Black neighborhoods and some played in bands for celebrations, parties, and funerals.
Through the years, New Orleans became well known for its big celebrations which included marching bands, drums, singing, and dancing.
The true birth of jazz music came along once the Black community started learning how to play European instruments such as the violin, trumpet, piano, and saxophone.
The sound of jazz became a combination of slave rhythms and European harmonies from these instruments.
In the early 1900s, jazz was only played in Black neighborhoods due to segregation.
But, a white man from New Orleans named Jack Laine created a band with black and white musicians.
They played at the red-light district, Storyville, in New Orleans which is where many tourists came to visit when they arrived in New Orleans.
This was a big moment for jazz because that gave this style of music a lot of exposure to people from different parts of the country.
Who First Invented Jazz Music?
Some argue that Nick LaRocca was the inventor of jazz music, but that is only believed because his all-white band “The Original Dixieland Jazz Band” had the first jazz recording ever in 1917.
But being that LaRocca was from New Orleans, it was clear that he took the sound he heard from back home and took advantage of the opportunities that could be granted to him and his band since they were all white.
Realistically there is no true “inventor” of jazz because it was a gradual creation overtime in New Orleans.
There were many aspects that played a part at different times in history.
For example, without the soulful sound from the slave rituals and the beautiful harmonies from the European instruments, there would be no jazz.
But, if we were to put a face to the first official jazz musician, it would be Buddy Bolden who created the infamous jazz band, The Bolden Band in 1895.
He was the first jazz musician to introduce improvisation which is very popular in jazz music today.
Bolden was known for his loudness with his cornet to the point that everyone could hear him far and wide.
His distinct sound and charisma is what made him a jazz legend and got him the honor of being the father of jazz.
What Is ‘The Jazz Age’?
Jazz reached its ultimate peak during “The Jazz Age” which many know as the roaring ‘20s.
During this time, radios were introduced which resulted in jazz music getting played everywhere.
The roaring ‘20s is also when the Prohibition Era was taking place which banned the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol.
Therefore, many people looked to speakeasies and unknown venues that had jazz bands and of course alcohol.
This era is when all of the infamous jazz artists started to emerge such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Click below to listen to some of their best music:
I hope you learned something new about jazz and you find a new appreciation for it!
Who else wants to take a trip to New Orleans now?! I know I sure do!
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