Jazz in the early 20th Century

Jazz in the early 20th Century

Jazz is defined as a genre of popular music that official originated in New Orleans around 1900. Apparently, the word “jazz’ originated in New Orleans “jass’, which was slang for sexual intercourse, but it gradually came to be applied to anything exciting. Other commentators have traced the use of the word in a musical context even further back, the first instance of writing dating to 1909. Jazz music is commonly characterized by intricate rhythms and syncopation, improvisation, call and response, and swing. First sweeping through the Western World in the 1920s and 30s, jazz has subsequently become entrenched as one of the characterizing movements in 20th Century culture. A revealing quote from Paul Whitman, the undisputed “King of Jazz’, shows the conditions in which jazz arrived in America: “Jazz came to America 300 years ago in chains”. That is, from West Africa via the black slaves who were imported to the states of Southern America to work for white masters in plantations. The slaves built up a rich hoard of work songs and ballads, lamenting their circumstances and conditions, and in time these developed into distinct genres, spawning the blues and ultimately jazz itself. However, it was never the sole property of the black community. Other influences including the minstrel shows put on by white performers as well as ragtime and Dixieland influenced the formation of jazz. Briefly, jazz emerged as a thriving form of popular music after it caught on among the musicians who were paid to entertain clients in the brothels of New Orleans at the turn of the century. Among the most important pioneers were cornet player Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll Morton, who often claimed he had “invented’ jazz. Subsequently the form developed under the influence of ragtime and the blued and a newfound home in Chicago. Jazz entered a golden age in the 1920s, when up-and-coming stars of the ability of Louis Armstrong and Bix…


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