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History Of Jazz Essay Research Paper The

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.