Jazz & Black Intellectualism

By: Nyla Griffith

Jazz as a genre emerged in New Orleans in the early 1920s to the 1930s. More specifically, it emerged in a place called Congo Square where there was a huge mix of various cultures from the western hemisphere. The Jazz era so many subgenres emerging from it. The first genre was swing jazz which was typically dance music. In addition, other genres like modal, traditional, swing, bebop, and free were created as well. 

The main theme of jazz was improvisation. During this time, black artists used jazz to express themselves in many ways and many artists emerged as a result. However, one key element of jazz was the rise of black intellectualism. Jazz was played in nightclubs and was seen as higher class. Once black jazz musicians were popular and well respected, people began to be proud of their blackness and were proud to perform. It showed other races, typically white people, that black people were capable and creative. Jazz music was not the classical music of the time, but it was still well respected.

The main classical jazz musician of the time was Louis Armstrong. In addition, Ornette Coleman played free jazz, Herbie Hancock played the horn, Dizzy Gillespie played bebop, and many other artists participated as well and they are listed and shown below. 

This was also a great era for female black musicians as many popular artists emerged. These included Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Popular Jazz Musicians:

  • Louis Armstrong
  •  Billie Holiday
  • Lena Horne
  • Sarah Vaughn
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Buddie Bolden
  • Herbie Hancock
  • Al Jearou
  • Ornette Coleman
  • Charles Mingus
  • Pharoah Sanders
  • Charlie Parker
  • Miles Davis
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Jubilee Quartets

Jubilee Quartets- By Nyla Griffith In the period of 1880-1929, a new genre of music was born in the African American community. This new genre

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

Negro Spirituals

What are Negro Spirituals? Negro Spirituals was one of the first genres to be born in the United States. It was created in slavery times

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

Concert Post

Concert Report By: Nyla Griffith This semester I had the privilege of attending the Spelman and Morehouse College Glee Club Christmas Carols Concert. I attended

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »


Gospel By: Nyla Griffith Following the era of blues and jubilee quartets, a new genre emerged. Gospel reached its peak in the 1920s. Gospel music

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »