History Of Jazz Essay, Research Paper
The History Of Jazz
The first jazz was played in the early 20th century. The work chants and folk
music of black Americans are among the sources of jazz, which reflects the
rhythms and expressions of West African song. Ragtime, an Afro-American music
that first appeared in the 1890s, was composed for the piano, and each rag is a
composition with several themes. The leading ragtime composer was Scott Joplin.
The first improvising jazz musician was the cornetist Buddy Bolden, leader of a
band in New Orleans. The first jazz bands were usually made up of one or two
cornet players who played the principal melodies, a clarinetist and trombonist
who improvised countermelodies, and a rhythm section (piano, banjo, string bass
or tuba, and drums) to accompany the horns. These bands played for dancers or
marched in parades in the South.
Some of the first New Orleans musicians were among the most stirring of all jazz
artists. They include clarinetist Johnny Dodds, clarinetist-soprano saxophonist
Sidney Bechet, pianist Jelly Roll Morton, and cornetist King Oliver. The first
jazz record was made in 1917 by a New Orleans band the Original Dixieland Jazz
Band, made up of white musicians who copied black styles.
The New Orleans musicians discovered that audiences were eager for their music
in the cities of the North and the Midwest. In the 1920s Chicago became the
second major jazz center. White Chicago youths, such as tenor saxophonist Bud
Freeman and clarinetist Benny Goodman, were excited by the New Orleans masters
including the thrilling Louis Armstrong, who played in King Oliver’s band.
The third major jazz center was New York City, and it became the most important.
In New York, pianists such as James P. Johnson created the piano style by
transforming rags and Southern black folk dances into jazz. Jazz was first
played in the ballrooms and theaters of New York.
Louis Armstrong was among the jazz musicians who accompanied Ma Rainey and the
rich-voiced Bessie Smith, the classic blues singers of the 1920s. When
Armstrong began singing, too, he scattered songs by improvising his own phrases
and nonsense syllables. Billie Holiday was only a teenager when she began her
singing career. She subtly changed the notes and rhythms of popular songs to
give them new, often ironic meanings. Ella Fitzgerald was the popular favorite
among later swing scat vocalists.
The bop era, which lasted from about 1945 to 1960, was also the period of cool
jazz. Bop blossomed out of informal performances, in New York City’s Harlem in
the early 1940s. Many bop pieces were played at the fastest tempos yet heard in
jazz. Bop featured many-noted solos and unusual, quickly changing harmonies.
The opposite of cool jazz was hard bop, which was played in the Eastern cities.
Hard bop was vigorous and energetic and emphasized the Afro-American basis of
The 1950s also brought forth composers who were not considered either bop or
hard bop creators. The traditional forms of jazz songs were abandoned by Lewis,
Nichols, and George Russell, who wrote complex, brightly colorful works for big
Chicago revived as a jazz center in 1965 when a cooperative, the Association for
the Advancement of Creative Musicians , was formed to produce concerts and to
teach music to inner-city youths. European enthusiasm about post-1960 jazz led
to two important trends of the 1970s and 1980s. First, improvising musicians
from many countries were inspired to draw on their individual musical heritages
to create new kinds of jazz. The most popular result of this trend to variety
has been fusion music, which joins jazz, rock, and Latin-American rhythms.
The concert on Wednesday night was pretty monotonous, my passion is for dance
music and hard ,uplifting beats,such as rap, rock, and house. I did enter the
auditorium with an open mind, but jazz did not click.