The Sounds of Bourbon Street

New Orleans, known for it’s Creole culture and festive nature, was the birthplace of jazz music. Originating in the late 19th century/early 20th century, Jazz ultimately was influenced by the preceding ragtime and blues genres. Its emergence came at time when Jim Crow was prevalent and African-Americans began to move to New Orleans, prompting White residents to begin looking for a new home. With segregation was still being practiced, Creoles who were trained in all things Jazz began to teach African-Americans its sounds and the rest is history. Jazz subgenres include cool, bebop, hard bop, free, and modal jazz and fusion. Cool jazz is just that, cool. It is often deemed as having a more “light” feel to it than others. Bebop jazz is known for its melodies, fast tempos, and improvisation. Hard bop is a mixture of gospel, the blues and R&B, and is known for its inclusion of the piano. Musical instruments are essential to the composition of jazz music and there is less emphasis on vocal performances.

While it is no secret that Blacks created jazz, there are always people of other persuasions who use privilege and power to profit off of our talents and abilities. The Great Migration allowed many people to come in contact with Jazz and it soon spread beyond New Orleans and the South, where Blacks and Whites could still not share the same space, and into the North. Some of the most renowned Jazz musicians include Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker.

It is evident that Jazz has made its mark on a number of genres. These genres, include, but are not limited to, soul, funk, and rhythm and blues. As times change, preferences change. So, jazz modified its sounds and produced new music as it gained popularity and traditional jazz began to fade. One thing that can be said about jazz that may be hard to say about other genres is that it is timeless. From dinner dates to parades, there is a reason that jazz is still a popular musical selection today. Most of all, it is a testament of how our people can turn life’s lemons into lemonade.

-Ivorie Farley-Cook


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