Jazz and the 1930-40s

The Great Depression Era

During the 1930s, the Great depression had a detrimental effect on the United States. The Great Depression began in 1929. Before the depression, millions of people investing their savings and borrowing money to put towards stocks.  However, banks began to fail and became bankrupt. Millions of people were out of jobs and had no money. At the time, African Americans were already disadvantaged because of Jim crow laws, racism, and segregation. Most were workers of sharecroppers. Due to the stock market crash, agricultural products prices fell. Farmers paid workers less money or fired them.

Black people were the first to be fired from jobs and had the most unemployment compared to white people. Unemployed White people were most likely to be hired than Black people. The unemployed Whites were then occupying positions that would typically be for Black people. Some of the jobs may have been maids, elevator operators, bus.

Not only were African Americans rejected from employment, but they were excluded from aid programs. Racial tensions were high as many Black people were lynched and beaten by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Due to segregation, Black people had to create their communities and establishments. Such as schools, stores, hair salons, and clubs.  On Saturday nights, they would gather in community centers and dance, play games, and listen to music.

In the 1940s, many African Americans left the south and moved north to industrial cities. This era was called the Great Migration, which was also during World War II. Many Black people joined the war.

Jazz and Music in the 1930s and 1940s

Buddy Bolden was the first famous jazz artist. Louis Armstrong, who was a trumpet player and singer, played a significant role in jazz. He was known for playing high notes on the trumpet. He pioneered the trumpet solo. Armstrong invented jazz trumpet sound and concepts. Other famous Black jazz artists were Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Mary Lou Williams, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson, and Duke Ellington. Jazz was popularized in the South, Midwest, and North. It was prominent in New Orleans, Harlem, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York. It even spread overseas, such as Germany, London, France, Spain, and parts of Asia.  




Jazz is known for being upbeat and its influences from Ragtime.  The big four beats are a crucial concept of jazz. The first type in jazz was traditional jazz, later swing and Bebop evolved. The music was known for its jazz and swing bands with piano, trumpets, trumpet mutes, saxophones, clarinets, and drums. 



In the 1930s, jazz and swing were wellknown genres of music. Swing was necessary because it bought joy and allowed people to escape from hardships during the Great depression. It was essential in the Black community as many became musicians. Artists like Fats Waller incorporated storyline and comedy into their music. The singers used exaggerated facial expressions. Artists were mixing jazz and blues as well 1940s. Pianists Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monkand trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie formed Bebop. During World War II, non-conformist and individuality were on the rise. Bebop was way for musicians to express themselves