Take the “A” Train to Jazz Central

Let’s take the A train down to New Orleans where the heart of the Jazz story starts. At the time, New Orleans was culturally diverse, and home to French, Latino, Creoles, African Americans slave population, and immigrants from Cuba and the Caribbean. Although New Orleans was a racially diverse city Compared to what the rest of the country looked like, their racists ideologies were still the same as most in America. New Orleans was separated into three racial divisions: White, Black, and Creole. Creole’s, people of mixed French and African history, were treated different from Blacks because they were mixed. This caused them to embrace and identify with their French culture more than their African roots. This however changed with the start of the Jim Crow segregation.  Creole’s were no longer allowed to perform in white bands. So what did they do? They made their way Uptown to where Body and Soul was incorporated into music:  the African American music scene.  The collaboration of the two cultures and music resulted in the formation of Jazz.

Jazz left it’s footprints in music. It is distinguished by its improvisation, \syncopation, blue’s feeling, and harmonic complexity. While it is known as “African American Classical music”,  Jazz is too complex to be placed into a simple category. It’s musical influences include several genres overlapped. European classical music, musical theater, African American religious music, blues, the syncopation and baseline melody of ragtime, and marches. While Ragtime used a 2/4 meter and march form pattern, Jazz created a new rhythmic interpretation that changed the basic march beat into a distinct New Orleans Jazz.

New Orleans however, was not the only place where this music thrived. Chicago was also prominent in the history of Jazz.  Due to the migration following the World War, Blacks began to migrate up north to Chicago, and they brought Jazz with them. Jazz was well respected compared to previous genres before it.  It was in these Chicago Southside clubs, Round midnight, that whites came to listen to music that would have them feeling good, and learn jazz.  Among pivotal Jazz performers were Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, and Don Redman.

Radio Broadcast were crucial to maintaining and establishing the representation of Jazz artists and bands. Although radio’s were racially structured, Black jazz artists were able to make appearances on radio programs that hired Blacks. This segregation was also present in public performances. Blacks were often not allowed to perform in arena’s with the bands they recorded with. Whites however, did not let this segregation stop them from enjoying Jazz. They visited and attended shows with Black performances. While they did enjoy African American artists, they were even more fond of swing music. While swing music incorporated elements of previous African American music such as riffs and call and response, it was mainly danced and performed by whites. They saw Blue in Green (money to be made the expressiveness of jazz music) and decided to make take it.

Following World War II, African Americans were all blue. They left to fight for the country and came back home to racial injustices. While their attitudes and mood [were] indigo,  their frustration with the color injustices sparked changed. They were unpleased with the dominance of white bands and decided to take their Stolen moment back. In attempts to take back jazz, they created Bebop music. Over the years, other forms of jazz music were created such as Cold jazz, Hard bop, modern Jazz, fusion, and free jazz. Jazz would go on to become the influence behind genres such as pop, rock, and even hip hop.   

Jazz music is still prevalent today. While it is often misunderstood and its complexity goes under noticed, it is a part of many cultures today. It is interesting how it still still played in some night clubs and is prominent in New Orleans till this day. Many of the songs are still sampled and used in today’s popular songs. For example Kanye West sampled Strange Fruit in one of his recent songs.

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tjulien1

tjulien1

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