A brief history of jazz music
Jazz music is an incredibly important part of American culture. It developed in the United States of America around the 1920s and is still popular today. Do you like jazz music? Keep on reading to learn more about the history of jazz.
Before reading this article, you can check your general knowledge about jazz music. Answer these trivia questions and check your answers:
- In which Swiss city is a famous jazz music festival annually held?
- What "hefty" jazz pianist, organist, composer, and entertainer was born in 1904?
- What instrument was played by famous Jazz Musician Louis Armstrong
The Origins of Jazz in America
African slaves in the American South began using European musical instruments in the early 19th century. They incorporated their tribal musical traditions with European minstrel performances.
The key elements of jazz music include:
- creative freedom
Ragtime and “Dixie” Music
Scott Joplin and others popularized Ragtime music in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Along with Ragtime, southern “Dixie” music created many of the foundations for what would later be called “Jazz”.
Swing and the Big Bands
Jazz music became more popular in the 1920s and 1930s with the rise of Swing music and the big band orchestras. Many of Jazz’s pioneers (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald) were making influential music at this time.
Bebop breaks the mold
Jazz’s popularity continued to grow in the 1940s, but a counter jazz movement (called Bebop) influenced what was to come later in Jazz music. Musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie led the Bebop movement.
Miles Davis and Cool Jazz
Miles Davis broke from his early Bebop days and started a new Jazz movement (“Cool Jazz”) in the 1950s and 1960s. This period had the peak and the start of the decline of Jazz’spopularity (Rock ‘n Roll was rising at this time).
Jazz moves to the fringe
From the 1970s to today, Jazz music has lost a lot of its popularity. Experimental artists like Ornette Coleman and the Free Jazz movement were not popular with mainstream listeners. Ken Burns’ documentary on Jazz brought back some of the interest in this genre.
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