History of Jazz Music

Jazz was a genre that developed as a result of African people integrating their own sound with European music, with ragtime being its foundation. The funky nature of ragtime, which is characterized by syncopation and its improvisation, heavily contributed to the creativity exhibited in this new genre of jazz. During its early years, Jazz was heavily rejected by musicians, composers, and religious communities. Religious communities particularly did not appreciate jazz music as its growth Despite this, it grew in popularity, particularly in its home of New Orleans, but artists and musicians would travel state by state spreading the style. 

It spread even further in later years, reaching international popularity in countries such as France and Great Britain. Regardless of the advancements of the genre, many black artists and composers couldn’t move further due to the dominance that white people had on the music industry; white people owned most recording companies and could manipulate the market to primarily show white artists over the black artists.

Instruments Most Commonly Used in Jazz

This genre prides itself on the ability for anything to be used, however, the most common instruments featured are:

  • Voice
  • Piano
  • Trumpet
  • Saxophone
  • Guitar
  • Trombone
  • Clarinet
  • Bass (Double Bass and Electric Bass)
  • Drums

Important People

Buddy Bolden

Buddy Bolden established the first recognized jazz band and, as a result, is part of a historical back and forth with Jelly Roll Morton about who was the first person to “do” jazz.

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton is remembered as one of the first composers in jazz music and is remembered for his arrangements that proved that jazz, a genre that is heavily improvised, could still be turned in sheet music and be made profitable. 

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday, also called “Lady Day”, was characterized by her innovative ability to manipulate tempo and lyrical phrasing, she was a huge influence on jazz music (and later, pop singing).

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald was considered the most popular female jazz singer and received the nickname of “First Lady of Song” and “Queen of Jazz” for a reason. Her vocal style was recognizable by her clear tone, timing, and her exceptional ability to improvise during performances.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong was known as the “father” of jazz and heavily revered as a trumpeter who advanced and evolved jazz music and its sound.

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was a composer and pianist who became the leader of a jazz orchestra in 1923.

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