A Brief History Of Jazz (part 1)

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One of the most unanswered questions of all time is “How did jazz start?” In 1917, Jazz was first recorded but it had existed for at least 20 years before that. Jazz was influenced by classical music, spirituals, marches, ragtime, blues, work songs, and the popular music of the period. It was already a distinctive form of music even before it was first documented.

The earliest jazz was played by uneducated musicians of marching bands in New Orleans. Music was an important part of life in New Orleans from the 1890s with brass bands hired to play at parties, parades, dances, and funerals. It reasons that the musicians, who often even did not read the music, did not simply play the melodies but came up with variations to make the performances more interesting.

Since Buddy Bolden, the first musician considered a jazz player, formed his band in 1895, we can use that year as the birthdate for jazz. During the next twenty years, the undocumented music progressed at a slow pace. Bolden, being committed in 1906 by his mental illness, was succeeded by Freddie Keppard to be the top cornetist in New Orleans and then, Keppard was eventually surpassed by King Oliver. Although some musicians of New Orleans traveled up to the North, jazz remained a piece of regional music until the period of World War I.

On Jan. 30, 1917, a white group named “The Original Dixieland Jazz Band” recorded “Indiana” and “Darktown Strutters’ Ball” for Columbia. However, at that time, their music was considered too radical to be released. Therefore, on Feb. 26, this group moved to Victor and recorded “The Original Dixieland One Step” and “Livery Stable Blues.” After the performances were released, “Livery Stable Blues” became famous and best-selling. Jazz was discovered. After that, many groups were recorded playing in the style that is similar to “The Original Dixieland Jazz Band”. Jazz became a fad for a few years and the 1919 Original Dixieland Jazz Band was a sensation in London. However, it would be some years before black jazz musicians were recorded, leading some observers to the false conclusion that whites had invented the music! Therefore, there is another belief that only blacks could play jazz and all of the white musicians were poor imitations. In fact, both beliefs have been proven false since then.