Jazz is born, dies, and is reborn every day. Of course jazz wasn't born on a particular day — it was created over time. It was a meeting, a mixing, a melding of many cultures, many emotions and many skills. Others say jazz was born in , the year Buddy Bolden started his first band. He said, "It is evidently known, beyond contradiction, that New Orleans is the Cradle of Jazz, and I myself happen to be the inventor in the year The most likely explanation is some New Orleans cats took the music they heard at home, in church and in barrooms, put it all together, and created a new sound. A wild, jubilant music.
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From the French Opera House to Congo Square
When did jazz originate?
Jazz is a byproduct of the unique cultural environment found in New Orleans at the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the vestiges of French and Spanish colonial roots, the resilience of African influences after the slavery era and the influx of immigrants from Europe. Another element driving this musical heritage toward the creation of jazz gets down to race and the distinctive black experience in New Orleans. Though the city was a leading slave port and segregation persisted long after slavery was abolished, people of different races mixed much more freely in New Orleans than other American cities. For instance, slaves were allowed to congregate, make music and dance in Congo Square, an area that is today part of Louis Armstrong Park on North Rampart Street on the edge of the French Quarter. In addition, New Orleans was home to the largest population of free people of color during the slavery era. Sampling from and experimenting with all of these diverse influences, New Orleans musicians added the touchstone ingredient of improvisation to produce something completely new. Historians generally point to Buddy Bolden, a cornet player, as the first jazz musician.
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New Orleans would never have produced its most famous musical expression had it not been for a confluence of seemingly unrelated events. Difficult economic times and a growing interest in popular music would fashion a springboard for an assortment of musical styles to coalesce into what would become a uniquely American kind of music. And in the process, jazz would expand beyond New Orleans. And traditional African-American music would form the backbone of these emergent genres. Developed in the rural South, the blues produced a number of noteworthy musicians, including the famous Robert Johnson, who claimed that he sold his soul to the Devil in order to play the guitar.
Subscribe today to support our mission and contributors. Most people think of New Orleans jazz as a single original jazz idiom, or musical style, when in fact it retains distinctive stylistic features tied to festival traditions within a discrete, regional culture. Even today, the musical practices rooted in neighborhood and family affiliations often influence musical styles and trends among traditional and modern jazz musicians more than national market trends. Charles Theater in , where he alternated with French and Italian opera. Over the course of the nineteenth century in New Orleans, the diversity arising from French , Spanish , and African cultures in the colonial period grew to include European, Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian immigrants, presenting local musicians with a vast array of raw materials from which to draw in making music. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, styles of dance underwent a dramatic shift away from polite, measured, and hierarchical nineteenth-century fare i. In New Orleans, music and lifestyle were at all times functionally connected. Ferguson decision in , music provided opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to get together. Much of this activity was made possible by neighborhood settlement patterns that predated segregation. The prevalence of marching bands, jazz bandwagon advertisements, and spasm bands performing in the streets of New Orleans meant that vernacular musical innovations such as jazz were available to everyone within listening range, regardless of laws that attempted to keep black and white cultures mutually exclusive.