The History of Jazz

It’s All in The Swing: The History of New Orleans Style Jazz

by Jaden Jackson

What Is Jazz?

Jazz is a style of music developed by African-Americans in the early 20th century that entails improvised patterns of rhythmic notes. Many jazz musicians freestyle and play based off the feelings. The first recordings of jazz happened in 1917 and are rapidly from there. Through the progression of time jazz evolved in encompassed different sounds of feeling like blues or swing that the musician constructed based of the embodying of feeling at that moment.

Introduction to New Orleans Jazz

The Swing Era of Jazz began in 1935 and lasted until the mid 1940s. New Orleans was always the birth place of Jazz, but the momentum of fast paced rhythmic beats is what really put the Jazz sound on the map. Swing Jazz had a organized sound and larger sets compared to blues. This ultimately what differentiated the two and made swing commercially successful. This introduced swing singers like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra which popularized the genre even more. Swing dances was created to accompany the face paced tunes. There were hundreds of variations of swing dances but the Lindy hop and Jitterbug was most popular. Swing Jazz ruled the decade up until it’s demise in the 50’s due to the introduction of funk.

Swing Artists

Fletcher Henderson is possibly one of the most notable swing artists. His bands were the most renowned in New York at in 20s and 30s. He is responsible for hiring Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman

Duke Ellington is one of the most influential composer to music history in general, but his fame rose through swing. He got popular from playing weekly sets at the cotton club and eventually formed his own band that created countless of compositions and arrangements of jazz. Some of his work even went on to become jazz standards.

Ella Fitzgerald is a notable female swing artist. Her artistry consisted of singing doo-wop and scat which were popular styles of singing to accompany swing. Even though women in Jazz are constantly overlooked, Fitzgerald sang alongside some of the greats like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Chick Webb.


“Ella Fitzgerald, with Unerring Sense of Swing, Conquered Jazz.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 2013, Editors of

Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Swing.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 3 Aug. 2017,,

Michael. “Who Were the Swing Era’s Most Influential Jazz Musicians?” LiveAbout, LiveAbout, 15 Aug. 2017,“What Is Jazz?” National Museum of American History, 10 Mar. 2020,

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