Jazz developed in the United States in the very early part of the 20th century. New Orleans, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, played a key role in this development. The city’s population was more diverse than anywhere else in the South, and people of African, French, Caribbean, Italian, German, Mexican, and American Indian, as well as English, descent interacted with one another. African-American musical traditions mixed with others and gradually jazz emerged from a blend of ragtime, marches, blues, and other kinds of music. At first jazz was mostly for dancing. (In later years, people would sit and listen to it.) After the first recordings of jazz were made in 1917, the music spread widely and developed rapidly. The evolution of jazz was led by a series of brilliant musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Jazz developed a series of different styles including traditional jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, and jazz?rock, among others. At the same time, jazz spread from the United States to many parts of the world, and today jazz musicians–and jazz festivals–can be found in dozens of nations. Jazz is one of the United States’s greatest exports to the world.


The term “swing” has broad associations. For one thing, it refers to a particular lilting rhythmic style that is based on a triplet subdivision of the beat. This propulsive effect was introduced by stride pianists in the 1920s and has been a common feature of jazz through the decades.


a type of jazz originating in the 1940s and characterized by complex harmony and rhythms. It is associated particularly with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie.

Hard Bop

Hard bop is a subgenre of jazz that is an extension of bebop (or “bop”) music. Journalists and record companies began using the term in the mid-1950s to describe a new current within jazz which incorporated influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and blues, especially in saxophone and piano playing.

Cool Jazz

Cool jazz is a style of modern jazz music that arose in the United States after World War II. It is characterized by relaxed tempos and lighter tone, in contrast to the fast and complex bebop style. Cool jazz often employs formal arrangements and incorporates elements of classical music.

Modal Jazz

Modal jazz is jazz that uses musical modes rather than chord progressions as a harmonic framework. Though earlier precedents exist, modal jazz was crystallized as a distinct theory by composer George Russell in his 1953 book Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization

Free Jazz

an improvised style of jazz characterized by the absence of set chord patterns or time patterns.

Jazz Fusion

Jazz fusion (also known as fusion) is a musical genre that developed in the late 1960s when musicians combined jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, and rhythm and blues.