The Rich History of Jazz

On International Jazz Day, take a look back on how jazz was invented and how it has evolved.

April 30 is International Jazz Day and as such it’s a good day to look back on just how it has evolved. The world has been so lucky to have been gifted jazz by some of the most musically and instrumentally gifted people ever. There’s a good reason why jazz is so popular and held to such a high standard in the music world. Different improvisational and rhythmic notes bring a sensation equal to no other.

 

Development of Jazz

Throughout the very early parts of the 20th century, people in New Orleans were about to introduce the world to a new kind of sound. The founders were of African-American descent and through their cultural influences they came up with new dancing music at first. Early on, jazz came to be through ragtime and blues and through improvisations and syncopated rhythms. It has always been a constantly evolving and ever-changing sound that’s impossible to define.

Improvisation plays an essential role in jazz. There’s no need to tie it down to one way or another of playing it. Creativity shines through every jazz player’s veins. West African musical sources were the primary source that made jazz so special and unique. Due to the fact that slavery was a consistent sad reality throughout the 1800s, slave trades made it possible for black people from different regions to share their experiences and cultures with each other. Thus, jazz music continued to evolve through the sharing of cultures among Black people.

The Black experience of the time was essential in the founding and development of jazz. In order for Black slaves to substitute their lack of possibility of maintaining their traditions, they expressed themselves through music a lot. The beautiful jazz coming from such inhumane situations only makes it more related to African-American traditions and showcases Black excellence despite the toughest of times.

 

Popular Jazz Musicians

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Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) is perhaps the greatest musician ever. He was also one of the first huge figures who played jazz. His influence is far and wide and his music still is everywhere even now. He was there for some of the most important development phases of jazz music. Based on chord harmonies of different songs Armstrong was the first to create significant variations outside of just the melodies within jazz.

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) is one of the most recognizable names in jazz. Her manner of improvisation developed jazz and influenced so many people, Those who were blessed enough to watch and listen to her perform would attest to the fact that her talent and genius extend beyond any barrier. She changed and evolved jazz forever.

Nat King Cole (1919-1965) is another prominent figure in jazz history. He had many hits and lived a very interesting life. Though unfortunately having to fight racism at every turn, his talent took him all over America. His vocals were also something to behold. Listen to his first hit Sweet Lorraine to discover his talent on your own.

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) is another very huge name in the jazz world and beyond. The Queen of Jazz herself her talents very numerous. Having won 14 Grammys along with many other awards throughout her long career, the legend of Ella Fitzgerald is still spoken about to this day and her name has been forever engraved in jazz history. Her scat singing was of particular note.

 

Most people who do jazz pride themselves on their individualism and ability to improvise. Everybody has a unique style and sound therefore you can get something out of every amazing jazz artist you listen to. International Jazz Day is just another opportunity to remind us of this great music and where it came from.

 

Photo: Photo Spirit/Shutterstock

 


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