Introduction to Jazz Music

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Developed by Americans, jazz can be seen as a reflection of the cultural diversity and individualism of this country because it shows an openness to all influences and personal expression through improvisation. First performed in bars, now jazz can be heard in clubs, concert halls, and large festivals all over the world.

From its very beginnings at the turn of the 20th century, Jazz has been a constantly evolving, expanding, and changing music. Jazz, in fact, is not – and never has been – an entirely predetermined music, nor is it an entirely improvised one. It seems to be instantly recognized and distinguished as something separate from all other musical forms. It has straddled the popular and art music world and has expanded to a point where its styles are so varied.

The Birth of Jazz

New Orleans, Louisiana around the turn of the 20th century was a combination of various cultures. It is the major port city, where people from all over the world came together, and as a result, musicians were exposed to various styles of music. European classical music, American blues, and South American rhythms came together to form a new music style what became jazz music.

Louis Armstrong

The main reason why jazz music is so unique is its focus on improvisation. Louis Armstrong, a New Orleans’ trumpet player, is known as the father of modern jazz. His trumpet solos were melodic, playful and full of energy. He was the leader of several music groups in the 1920s and 30s and inspired the other musicians to make the music their own by developing a personal style of improvisation.

Expansion

Thanks to early records, the music of Armstrong and other musicians in New Orleans could reach a huge number of audiences. The popularity of jazz began to increase when more and more jazz bands were established in major cultural centers around the country such as Chicago, Kansas, and New York, especially in the 1940s.

Jazz Today

Jazz is a highly developed music form that still continues to expand in numerous ways. The music of each decade sounds fresh and different from the music that preceded it. Jazz today is so diverse and broad that every artist has something unique and interesting.