The Evolution of Buddy Bolden


Buddy Bolden had a very eventful career. He was hands down the most influential man in jazz as Bolden was considered to be the first person to play jazz when it didn’t have an official title yet. Bolden was a crucial piece in forming the era of jazz.

Early Life:

 Charles Joseph Bolden was born in New Orleans in September 1877 and died in November 1931. His nickname was “Buddy”. When Bolden was just six years old his father died. This was a devastating tragedy but allowed his family to build a tighter bond. Bolden was playing at a very young age. He was acknowledged by Louis Armstrong for being one of the most powerful musicians. Bolden was an impactful artist during this particular era and was titled the cornet king of New Orleans.


The tragedy of Bolden’s father passing caused Bolden to look to music for an outlet. He started playing the coronet in a small band led by Charlie Galloway. He was playing out of Galloway’s barbershop, and this allowed him to sharpen his music skills. He later left the band at around 20 years old to eventually start his own band. His band consisted of two clarinet players, one guitarist, a drummer and one bass player. The musicians in Bolden’s band didn’t know how to read sheet music. This set back caused his band to copy other works and sounds or they would make things up on the spot through improvisation. Overall Bolden was thriving and even created a song titled Home Sweet Home which was sung at a sendoff for American troops which really invoked various emotions. Overall Bolden’s career was thriving until it later took a toll. He allowed fame and wealth to overwhelm his life. He became an alcoholic and was displaying violent behaviors. He was diagnosed with an illness called schizophrenia. In 1907, he was admitted to East Louisiana State Hospital in Jackson when he was only 29 years old. He later died in 1931 at 54 years old. 

Impact on Jazz:

Since Bolden was the first man of Jazz, he was definitely a trailblazer. He set the tone of what jazz should resemble as a genre. He was popular for his ability to improvise so well. This intern is what mad e his music style so unique. He also impacted the African American community as he introduced a new sound and influenced other up and coming jazz musicians. If anything, jazz would not be the genre it is today without the contributions of Bolden. Bolden was considered to be the founding father of jazz and was often referred to as King Bolden.

Aspects of Jazz:

  • Built on improvisation- ability to make up things on the spot
  • Origin- New Orleans 
  • Cultural Elements- Congo Square, French, Africans, and Spanish
  • Buddy Bolden- Founding Father of Jazz
  • Elements of jazz include improvisation 
  • Big four- Buddy Bolden improvised the big four which is a style of jazz. 

Popular Songs:


Bolden was the founding father of Jazz. He influenced the whole genre of jazz and paved the way for other successful jazz artists. With the information presented he had a pretty successful career. He was able accomplish a vast number of things during his career. Although, his career was short lived due to his mental health he was still such and instrumental piece to the world of jazz.

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