Jazz History

Jazz HistoryJazz evolved out of black communities in the South, originating in New Orleans around the beginning of the 20th century and evolving into various and increasingly complex styles. Jazz combines a fusion of influences and musical traditions, including African music brought with the slaves take from Africa. Elements of African music were blended with elements of European music and instruments, producing a new form and intricate form of music, which began to spread north and then across the rest of the country.

The term jazz was coined in California in the early 1900s, and spread with the art form to Chicago, where the name began to be used regularly. Jazz evolved organically, with exciting and dynamic jazz scenes forming in major cities across the US, most famously in New Orleans and in Chicago. Today, the word “jazz” can even be used as verb to express vivacity, spirit and enthusiasm. Jazz has become part of the American identity, featured in art, literature, and even pop culture movies. Jazz paintings in bright, blended, impressionist styles are the most popular. An example of a famous intersection of literature and jazz is African-American Zora Neale Hurston’s essay How it Feels to be Colored Me, during which she describes her intense, almost spiritual experience while listening to jazz in a club. In the more recent film Jerry Maguire,, one of the characters refers to jazz as “the only true American art form.”

Jazz styles have evolved over the years to include ragtime, swing, big-band, scat, soul jazz, Afro-Latin jazz, and a variety of other styles which to do this can be heard on radios or being played live in clubs or bars. Jazz has become nationally and internationally widespread and beloved, but the three cities which forever hold the most famous and historical ties to jazz are New Orleans, Chicago, and New York City.