The Jazz Age


Created by blacks in New Orleans, Jazz is a music genre that has elements from ragtime and blues. Jazz rose to popularity during the late 19th century after Jim Crow Laws prohibited mixed individuals from playing in white brass and string bands. No longer considered white, the classically trained Creoles began to create music with the self-taught blacks. 


Jazz is characterized by call-response, improvisation, and syncopation. In jazz, call-response is used when an instrument introduces the melody and other instruments improvise accordingly. Improvisation is when each Jazz musician adds their own ” flavor” or style to a musical piece. Syncopation is when a unique rhythm is added on the off-beat of a song. These characteristics and many others add to the originality and uniqueness of jazz music. 


Primary Performers

  1. Billie Holiday or “lady day” was a popular American jazz singer known for her incredible vocal and improvisational skills. She is widely known for her hit What a Little Moonlight Can Do”
  2. Louis Armstrong was a New Orleans bred trumpeter and composer that specialized in Jazz. Armstrong was popular from the 1920s to the 1960s. Straying away from group improvisation, Armstrong focused on solo performances. He is widely known for his hit ” What a Wonderful World”
  3. Miles Davis is an American trumpeter and composer born in Illinois. After leaving Julliard, Davis joined the Bebop Quintet. He is most widely known for his album “Kind of Blue” which is not only one of the most popular jazz albums of all time, but went on to sell four million copies worldwide. 

Social Implication

In terms of social implications, Jazz had a very big impact on cultural movements during the early 1900s such as the Harlem Renaissance. Essentially, after the end of World War 1 and the beginning of the depression, Jazz began to gain popularity amongst all races. This lead to less segregation and more equality at jazz clubs and concerts. 


Unlike previous black music genres, jazz musicians were able to make profit from performing at jazz clubs such as the Cotton Club for all types of audiences. In addition, jazz music records were sold for profit, giving these musicians the ability to become very successful performers and artists. 


Similar to other African American music genres, Jazz has influenced almost all of forms modern day music such as pop, r & b, and hip hop. For example, in hip hop, rappers improvise lyrics similar to the way jazz musicians improvise melodies. In addition, jazz harmonies and rhythms can be found in todays pop and r & b music. 


In conclusion, Jazz is a black music genre cultivated in New Orleans, Louisiana by blacks and Creoles. In addition, the genre is characterized by elements such as call-response, syncopation, and improvisation. However, most importantly, Jazz has led to modern day music that we all know and love such as pop, hip hop, and blues. 

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