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Jazz Legend

Jazz appeared in the United States, in Louisiana, precisely in New Orleans in the Mississippi Delta, at the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century, depending on the sources1. It is the fruit of the interbreeding between the culture of the black American people resulting from slavery, and the European culture imported by the French, German, Spanish and Irish colonists around the dances (polka, quadrille), marching bands, circuses, salons ( piano), steps (2/3), and of course church songs.

One of the main influences of the root of jazz, in addition to religious songs (Negro spirituals, then Gospel songs) and work songs (songs of slave labor in cotton plantations) is Blues, another rural black music, born at the end of the 18th century, and which evolved with the migration of black populations to large cities, at the end of the 19th century.

Among the first jazz musicians, many are those who live by their performance in small brass bands; the instruments of these groups became the basic instruments of jazz: brass, reed instruments and drums.

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The end of the civil war, and the surplus of military musical instruments it brought, only amplified the movement. Early jazz bands frequently used the structure and rhythm of the steps, which was the most common type of concert music at the time.

Despite its popular roots, one finds among the creators of jazz classical musicians, such as Lorenzo Tio or Scott Joplin (ragtime pianist in a hotel that simultaneously composed an opera - which shows all the influences that may have inherit jazz at that time).

An important event in the development of jazz was the tightening of the Jim Crow laws on racial segregation in Louisiana in the 1890s. Professional musicians of color were no longer allowed to perform in the company of white musicians; on the other hand, they easily find work among the brass bands and black orchestras, which they share with their conservatory experience.

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At the dawn of the First World War, we witness a liberalization of customs. Dance halls, clubs and tearooms open their doors in cities, and black dances such as cakewalk and shimmy are gradually being adopted by white audiences, mainly young people (flappers). These dances first appear during vaudeville shows, then during dance demonstrations in clubs.

Most of the time, the music of these dances has nothing to do with jazz, but it is new music, and the craze for this new music explains the craze for a certain form of jazz. Famous composers such as Irving Berlin then tried jazz, but they rarely used this attribute which is the second nature of jazz: rhythm. However, nothing popularized jazz more than the title of Irving Berlin Alexander's Ragtime Band (1911). Its success was such that we heard it until Vienna.

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In the mid-1920s until the bebop event in the 1940s, we saw the rise of a musical current called the "era of big bands", "swing era", "swing", or the middle jazz period (“middle” jazz). It is especially characterized by the development of large orchestras and big bands and swing.
During the 1920s, the prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States closed bars and legal taverns. But they were quickly replaced by clandestine bars where customers came to drink and listen to music. The tunes we hear there remain a mixture of styles - trendy dance pieces, recent songs, tunes taken from shows. What a trumpeter once nicknamed "Businessman's bounce music".

This period marks the birth of the Duke Ellington orchestra at the Cotton Club, as well as the Count Basie orchestra, formed from several Kansas City groups. Dance evolves with music, so was born in the early 1930s in the black American community the Lindy Hop (or Jitterbug) which became a national phenomenon in 1935, with the popularization of white big bands with in particular Benny Goodman.

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The first developments of jazz were influenced by racial segregation, which was then very strong in the United States. The innovations, brought mainly by the black musicians of the clubs, are recorded by white musicians, who tend to give jazz rhythms and orthodox harmonics. The slow dissolution of racial segregation began in the mid-1930s, when Benny Goodman hired pianist Teddy Wilson, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and guitarist Charlie Christian to join small groups and his big band.


Acid Jazz  ·  Bebop · Cool Jazz · Free Jazz · Hard-Bop ·

Jazz Fusion · Jazz Fusion · Jazz House · Jazz-Rock ·

Latin Jazz · Nu Jazz · Smooth Jazz


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