Birth of Jazz

The music called Jazz was born sometime around 1895 in New Orleans. It combined elements of Ragtime, marching band music and Blues and whatever else was floating into New Orleans from the Mississippi Delta and throughout the South where new forms had been percolating for generations as slave music. What differentiated Jazz from these earlier styles was the widespread use of improvisation, often by more than one player at a time.

Celebrating the life of the community by  suspending daily cares for as long as the festival lasts is an ancient African tradition. The five days of Carnival ending on Shrove Tuesday as a time for merry making and release marking the beginning of a more solemn pre Easter Lent season in the Catholic Church was a match made in heaven for displaced African communities. 
The collective African soul carries  an ancient tradition of parading and moving in circles through villages wearing masks and costumes.
The practice was believed to heal problems, chill out ancestors and fellow tribe members who had passed to the spirit world and bring good fortune. This is a time of masking, where the crossover between sacred and secular reveals another character to the mask wearer.  The parading is also accompanied by dressing up with special wear which may have spiritual significance. These elements can still be found in today’s New World Carnival traditions as the product of a jazz like mix with European traditions within the Caribbean, Latin, Brazilian and Creole cultures of the Americas. As most agree, humanity began in Africa, these syncretic Carnaval traditions represent the completion of a cycle as we move forward in the 21st century.

The “Crescent City” — so called because it was built along a bend in the river — was also home to Choctaw and Natchez Indians. It would was or would be people from the Balkans: Dalmatians, Serbs,Montenegrins, Greeks, Albanians. Spanish-speaking Filipinos came and stayed, too, alongside Chinese and Malays. After 1850, large numbers of German and Irish and Silician immigrants would be added to the mix. By 1860, 40 percent of the people of New Orleans were foreign-born.

New Orleans had been the center of the southern slave trade with two dozen slave auction houses and, several times a year, the spacious ballrooms of its two grandest hotels doubled as showrooms for human merchandise. These slaves, however, had no rights whatsoever and until the Emancipation Proclamation following the Civil War, their children and their children’s children had no avenue to be anything but property to another unless they escaped to the North, the swamps of Florida or New Orleans.

New Orleans Louisiana or NOLA was also home to the most prosperous community of free people of color in the South. Many were the descendants of French colonists and their African- and Native-American wives and mistresses. They called themselves “Creoles of Color” and spoke French or a distinctive patois that white Americans called “nigger French.” A wealthy few sent their children to Paris to school. Creoles controlled cigar making and bricklaying, carpentry and shoemaking in the city. Many lived south of Canal Street in the original, most fashionable section, called “Downtown and dominated the music local thriving music industry. 

“(That) song caused a lot of trouble in and out of show business, but it was also good for show business because at the time money was short in all walks of life. With the publication of that song, a new musical rhythm was given to the people. Its popularity grew and it sold like wildfire… That one song opened the way for a lot of colored and white songwriters. Finding the rhythm so great, they stuck to it.”

—Ernest Hogan

Ragtime first appeared as sheet music with the African American entertainer Ernest Hogan‘s hit songs in 1895, however the controversy generated by the biggest hit song and its many imitations has shrouded Hogan’s historic musical achievements. In 1897  Vess Ossman recorded a medley of these songs as a banjo solo “Rag Time Medley” and white composer William H. Krell published his “Mississippi Rag” as the first written piano instrumental ragtime piece.  

The abolition of slavery led to new but limited opportunities for freed African-Americans. Black pianists played in bars, clubs and brothels, and ragtime developed. Ragtime has been called the first American music and was its start associated with the piano.

Ragtime was distinguished from other music of the time mainly by the treble syncopations over the regularly accented bass. Elements of the music, apart from the African rhythmic features, can be traced to Euro-American dances, post Civil War marches and New Orleans-born Louis M. Gottschalk’s brand of European classicism.

The classically-trained pianist Scott Joplin produced his “Original Rags” in the following year, then in 1899 had an international hit with “Maple Leaf Rag.” He wrote numerous popular rags, including, “The Entertainer”, combining syncopation, banjo figurations and sometimes call-and-response, which led to the ragtime idiom being taken up by classical composers including Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky.

The Mississippi River towns of Sedalia and St. Louis became centers of the new music.

The Blues
Blues emerged at the end of the 19th century as an accessible form of self-expression in African-American communities of the United States from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. Prior to the emergence of the blues, solo music was atypical. Booker T. Washington’s teachings, and the Horatio Alger model, which asserted that the individual molds his own destiny, influenced this form of personalized music.As emancipated slaves took their freedom on the road they brought with them as part of their baggage two interrelated forms essential to the development of jazz — the sacred music of the Baptist church and that music’s profane twin, the blues. “One was praying to God and the other was praying to what’s human,” a New Orleans musician said, “One was saying ‘oh God, let me go,’ and the other was saying, ‘oh mister, let me be.’”The blues were good-time music, which was why, to many churchgoers, there were anathema, the work of the devil, forbidden to be saved. But musically, the blues and the hymns black Baptists sang and played in church had always been virtually interchangeable — filled with identical bent notes, moans and cries. And in the 1890s, the distinction would blur still further as the new Holiness churches that had begun to spring up in the black neighborhoods of the big cities all over the country started employing tambourines, drums, pianos, cornets, even trombones in order to make their noise still more joyful to the Lord.

The migration of many blacks to the cities gave them a new freedom from the church and community that had not been experienced in rural areas. Blacks demanded entertainment, and black theaters, dance halls, and clubs were opened.

The origin of Blues music is associated with the Mississippi Delta area of the South. The music genre is based on the use of the blues chord progressions and the blue notes. Though several blues forms exist, the 12-bar blues chord progressions are the most frequently encountered. Blue notes are sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes.

The term “the blues” refers to the “the blue devils”, meaning melancholy and sadness. The colour blue expressed a feeling of sadness and depression, and of being lonely. While Negro spirituals lent itself to a choral treatment and expressed the blacks’ need for spiritual guidance, the blues was about people and their everyday struggles. Blues lyrics was about money problems, broken hearts, loneliness and sickness. Melancholy, however is most frequently the theme; the essence of the blues is in such traditional lines as “Got the blues, but too damn mean to cry”

It has been claimed that Yoruba mythology played a part in early blues, citing Robert Johnson‘s “Cross Road Blues” as a “thinly veiled reference to Eleggua, the orisha in charge of the crossroads” Some say Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil which Christianity has often associated with trickster figures from mythology like Eleggua.

Many early jazz compositions were based on blues principles. Boogie-woogie is a particular style of piano playing in early jazz. It is constructed on a 12-bar blues scale. In 1900 it was known as “honky-tonk” in New Orleans. Boogie-woogie is characterized by right-hand melody improvisation and left-hand repeated rhythmic motive, a sort of “walking bass”. Like ragtime, it was music meant for dancing.

Blues music was collected, reworked, published and popularized by W. C. Handy, whose “Memphis Blues” of 1912 and “St. Louis Blues” of 1914 both became jazz standards. The blues tradition also is credited as the foundation for rhythm and blues which gave us rock and roll. Many have had the privilege to appreciate live great blues talents with deep roots in the living tradition like T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, B.B.King and Albert Collins.

In the 1940s and ’50s, New Orleans-raised Professor Longhair incorporated the intricate rhythms of the Caribbean into his blues piano playing to create and record a unique style of the blues that has since been dubbed “rumba boogie.” By the 1950s and ’60s, Fats Domino began combining classic “boogie woogie” piano, a New Orleans beat, and R&B and jazz roots on hits like “Walkin’ to New Orleans” and “Blueberry Hill.”

During the 1950s, New Orleans was an important center of R&B recording in the South and successful musicians like Professor Longhair helped pave the way for upcoming artists such as Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., aka “Dr John.”

Slave supervisors allowed, and even encouraged, the slaves to sing. The singing contributed them to overcome the monotony in the work out on the field, in a way it raised the work ethic. This was how the concept ‘plantation songs’ started. The work song did not only function as a stimulant, where the rhythm of the song subsidized the work-rhythm, but also as a news channel. This was the only way the slaves could talk to each other during work; by singing.Many spirituals have river motives.” Songs like “Deep River”, “Down by the River Side” and “I’ve got peace like a River”, all talks about crossing the great river which is a symbol of rebirth.

The art of singing a spiritual demanded a style and talent to embellish a melody. This technique of improvising was one of the main influences in the development and evolution of the jazz style, and was to be one of the most exciting elements of jazz.

“A lot of times I tell people, I don’t what it is (my sound), I just play it. But I do know what it is. It’s mixed up with spiritual, sanctified rhythms, and the feeling I put into it when I’m playing, I have the feeling of making people shout. I put it right there in the shout mode, and they can’t help it, ’cause I got it locked right in there. And that’s what you gotta do. If you can’t lock them into that mode, they don’t move.”

–Bo Diddley

In the Ring Shout celebrants dance around in a circle, stamping feet and hand-clapping in rhythm and singing spirituals. The hand-clapping and foot-stomping evolved to take the place of the drums and the ceremony was known for its revivalist frenzy.

Minstrel tradition of Songsters
Before the blues, black slaves who provided music for their owners and for their fellow slaves were considered an asset. For most of the 19th century the “Ethiopian minstrel” shows were America’s most popular form of musical theatre. White performers dressed as African –Americans with blackface makeup gave white America their first exposure to black music, and later on more black performers could be heard and seen in minstrel shows, laying the groundwork for the later popularity of jazz and blues.Soon after the end of slavery, the songster tradition began, such that it co-existed with blues music.  Songsters generally performed a wide variety of folk songs, ballads, dance tunes, reels and minstrel songs. Initially, they were often accompanied by non-singing “musicianers”, who often played banjo and fiddle. Later, as the guitar became more widely popular, the songsters often accompanied themselves.Songsters often accompanied medicine shows, which moved from place to place selling salves and elixirs. As entertainers, songsters had the task of enticing a public, to whom the concoctions were then offered.

“Oh Susannah” and “My Old Kentucky Home” written by Stephen Foster who was white, are examples of minstrel songs from that time that are still sung today.
By the late 1880′s, Vaudeville had pretty much replaced the Minstrels but the rich tradition entered into the melange that became jazz.

Brass Bands
Rebirth-Brass-Band-Oct-08.jpgWell before the Civil War, the city also exhibited what the New Orleans Picayune called “a real mania for horn and trumpet playing,” and dance musicians often doubled in the marching bands that seemed always to be playing somewhere in town — entertaining picnickers in the parks or along the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, waging what one observer called “a windy war” by blaring different airs from the decks of steamboats anchored side by side, escorting mourners to and from the cemetery “preceded, followed and hemmed in on every side by a… collection of all colors, sexes and conditions.”After Emancipation, the music continued and in large and small towns across the South there were concert brass bands of black musicians, similar to those heard throughout white America at the time, as well as dance bands that combined brass and string instruments.In New Orleans after the Civil War, it was much easier to get musical instruments, so newly freed African Americans, began to form marching bands that consisted of only brass instruments with the lone exception of a bass and tom tom drums. In the late 1890′s and the early 1900′s these brass bands began to be asked to perform at Jazz funerals. Jazz funerals were at the heart of an early African slave religious practice, of celebrating of the life of a deceased person.

Numerous marching bands played at lavish funerals arranged by the African American community. The instruments used in marching bands and dance bands became the basic instruments of jazz: brass and reeds tuned in the European 12-tone scale and drums. Small bands of primarily self-taught African American musicians, many of whom came from the funeral-procession tradition of New Orleans, played a seminal role in the development and dissemination of early jazz, traveling throughout Black communities in the Deep South and, from around 1914 on, Afro-Creole and African American musicians playing in vaudeville shows took jazz to western and northern US cities.

In New Orleans the second line parades have a long history together with the Social (Aide) & Pleasure Club of the neighborhood of the town. The S&P Clubs are today, a mere shadow of their former selves, and known not as the fore runners of the insurance industry in Louisiana, but as the, “Keepers of the Second Line Tradition.”

A Main Line is the main section or the members of the actual club, that has the permit to parade. The main line is usually the Social (Aid) & Pleasure Club of the neighborhood in which they are parading. Behind this group is the second line. The name second line, is also the name of a unique dance, performed to the beat of New Orleans’traditional jazz. The dance is an evolved version of what is a natural form of African dance.

An especially lively and innovative black dance band scene developed in New Orleans

Taking the cake

 ”If you haven’t been on a second line, there’s something about jazz you don’t know….We’ve gotten to think of dance music as something dumb, something that just goes thump-thump-thump, but dancing is an intense listening state.

—Ned Sublette

Dancing was the most popular form of social entertainment during the era of jazz evolution. The dance forms existing during jazz’s evolution included: the French quadrille, the waltz, polka, schottische, and even the military march. The Cakewalk and its predecessor ragtime used the march form, adding syncopation and using the steady rhythm of the march. 

Perhaps the most popular social dance in the city of New Orleans, a French and Spanish City, was the Quadrille. The Quadrille is best described as a type of square dance but with more ‘polite’ movements, more grace, and more formal calls. It is a series of settings that alternate between the meters of 2/4 and 6/8. The movements were never in any set rhythmic pattern.











The Comus Waltz 1856 according to ” when first introduced, was considered a very ‘risqué’ dance, and one of the first to have the two partners hold each other. It is one of the most graceful dances in dance history. ” Rename

Creole musicians — sometimes whole orchestras, more often a string trio or quartet — supplied most of the music for the city’s dancers, both white and Creole: waltzes, polkas, schottisches, quadrilles, and sensual, syncopated contredanses, including habaneras, filled with Spanish rhythms carried to New Orleans from Haiti and Cuba. They played for the celebrated — or notorious — “quadroon balls,” too, at which white men sought out Creole women to be their mistresses. Nonwhite males were officially barred, though since men and women alike often wore masks, it was sometimes hard to tell just who was asking whom to dance. As Danny Barker remarked, in New Orleans there has always been “a whole lot of integrating going on.”

Meanwhile, a steady stream of black refugees from the Mississippi Delta was pouring into the city, people for whom even hard labor on the levee promised a better life than any they could hope to have back home, chopping cotton or cutting cane.

The earliest blues singers — wandering guitarists who played for pennies along the southern roads — followed no strict musical form. But as first New Orleans musicians and then others around the country began to try to play the blues on their instruments and songwriters started to see commercial possibilities in them, an agreed-upon form was developed: stripped to the essentials, blues came to be built on just three chords most often arranged in 12-bar sequences that somehow allowed for an infinite number of variations and were capable of expressing an infinite number of emotions. The blues could be about anything — a beautiful woman, a mean boss, the devil himself — but they were always intensely personal, meant to make the listener feel better, not worse — and each performer was expected to tell a story.

In the late 1800′s New Orleans was two cities; uptown, or American Section, West of Canal Street, and the downtown, or French Section, East of Canal Street.

The Downtown city had Whites and Creoles, while the Uptown was mostly recently freed Black slaves. The Creoles were musically trained, -good sight readers. The blacks, from uptown, often studied music with Creole instructors.

In 1894, all that changed. Very restrictive racial segregation laws were promulgated, insuring the segregation of even the Creoles. It was something of a comedown for the usually well trained Creole musicians, to be thrown into competition with the poorer, largely untrained, ‘uptown’ Blacks. The first melting and refining of Jazz was already taking place. Musicians began to play what they felt, -what their talents allowed, with each making his individual contribution to the whole.

Over the last decade of the 19th century, non reading musicians playing more improvised music drew larger audiences for dances and parades. For example, between 1895 and 1900 uptown cornet player Charles “Buddy” Bolden began incorporating improvised blues and increasing the tempo of familiar dance tunes. Bolden was credited by many early jazzmen as the first musician to have a distinctive new style. The increasing popularity of this more “ratty” music brought many trained and untrained musicians into the improvising bands. Also, repressive segregation laws passed in the 1890s (as a backlash to Reconstruction) increased discrimination toward anyone with African blood and eliminated the special status previously afforded Creoles of color. These changes ultimately united black and Creole of color musicians, thus strengthening early jazz by combing the uptown improvisational style with the more disciplined Creole approach.


Bellocq’s Storyville photographs were taken in the legalized red light district of New Orleans around 1912

Storyville was the prostitution district of New Orleans, Louisiana, from 1897 through 1917. It was bounded by Iberville, Basin, St. Louis, and Robertson streets. Most of this former district is now occupied by the Iberville Housing Projects, two blocks inland from the French Quarter. The District was adjacent to one of the main railway stations where travelers arrived in the city and became a noted attraction for many visitors.

Jazz did not originate in Storyville, but it incubated and flourished as much there as anywhere else in the city; many out-of-town visitors first heard this style of music there before the music spread up north.

Between 1897 and 1917, Basin Street (the district’s main avenue) flourished, as did music and dance or as they say in New Orleans:”Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez”  A brothel prostitute was known as a “Jazz Belle”, while her customer was a “Jazz Beau”. The better establishments were decorated with gilded mirrors, Oriental carpets, and crystal chandeliers, while guests were entertained with nightly music by such men as Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, King Oliver, Buddy Bolden, Paul Barbarin, Kid Ory, Freddy Keppard, Bunk Johnson, Henry “Red” Allen, and Manuel Perez. and King Oliver.

There were even two Storyvilles, Uptown side – “Back O’ Town”, west of Canal Street, was for Blacks, while the downtown side, east of Canal Street was for Whites.

The District was closed down by the federal government (over the strong objections of the New Orleans city government) during World War I in 1917. In regard to prostitution, New Orleans Mayor Martin Behrman pronounced that, “[y]ou can make it illegal, but you can’t make it unpopular.” After 1917, when Storyville was shut down, separate black and white underground dens of prostitution emerged around the city and the celebrated King Oliver left for Chicago.

The District continued in a more subdued state as an entertainment center through the 1920s, with various dance halls, cabarets and restaurants. Speakeasies, gambling joints and prostitution were also regularly found in the area despite repeated police raids. Most of the former District was demolished in the 1930s to clear the land for the building of the Iberville Projects including the old mansions along Basin Street which among the finest structures in the city.

Some historians cite the closure as setting loose an exodus of jazz musicians who made the 20′s “the jazz age.”  Ladies shortened their tresses and bobbed their hair, they hiked up their skirts, rolled down their stockings, and rouged their lips. Men dressed in the new styles of suits, slicked down their hair, and – it seemed – the entire world was listening to, and dancing – publicly – to Jazz.

The book features among its 500-plus pictures many of the previously unseen shots of musicians and venues glimpsed in Ken Burns‘s 10-part documentary, Jazz.(19-hour, 10-episode first aired on PBS in January, 2001 )
Jazz: An Illustrated History
follows the film episode by episode, and it’s filled with rich historical detail in the early chapters. Like the series, however, the book trails off after a certain point in chronicling jazz’s history. It gives background aplenty on early New Orleans music, the migration of jazz up the Mississippi to major urban centers, and the developments of swing and bebop.

“The authors seem to have signed onto the orthodoxy of Wynton Marsalis and his ilk. In a nutshell, this holds that jazz took (multiple) wrong turns in the modern era. It stopped featuring the familiar, danceable, toe-tappable shuffling swing that earned it its original popularity. In other words, modern jazz has turned into a musical dead end. The only hope for its salvation is to return to the earlier swing and bop forms and overlay them with a slightly more complex and refined sensibility.…The development of Jazz guitar is largely ignored (Wes Montgomery, where are you?), fusion is distained, smooth jazz is dismissed as aural wallpaper, non-American jazz players are barely mentioned…I purchased this book at a steep discount and keep it on my coffee table. It’s a great book if you are nostalgic, and it’s a nice introduction to Jazz as long as you are aware of Ken Burns’ biases. If you really want to learn more about Jazz, you’re going to have to dig deeper, find a knowledgeable and supportive CD store, and explore this beautiful world in alternate ways.

The instrumentation and section playing of the brass bands increasingly influenced the dance bands, which changed in orientation from string to brass instruments. What ultimately became the standard front line of a New Orleans jazz band was cornet, clarinet, and trombone. These horns collectively improvising or “faking” ragtime yielded the characteristic polyphonic sound of New Orleans jazz.

New Orleans jazz began to spread to other cities as the city’s musicians joined riverboat bands and vaudeville, minstrel, and other show tours. Jelly Roll Morton, an innovative piano stylist and composer, began his odyssey outside of New Orleans as early as 1907. The Original Creole Orchestra, featuring Freddie Keppard, was an important early group that left New Orleans, moving to Los Angeles in 1912 and then touring the Orpheum Theater circuit, with gigs in Chicago and New York. In fact, Chicago and New York became the main markets for New Orleans jazz. Tom Brown‘s Band from Dixieland left New Orleans for Chicago in 1915, and Nick LaRocca and other members of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band headed there in 1916

In 1917 the Original Dixieland Jazz Band cut the first commercial jazz recording while playing in New York City, where they were enthusiastically received. The Victor release was an unexpected hit. Suddenly, jazz New Orleans style was a national craze.

With the new demand for jazz, employment opportunities in the north coaxed more musicians to leave New Orleans. For example, clarinetist Sidney Bechet left for Chicago in 1917, and cornetist Joe “King” Oliver followed two years later. The appeal of the New Orleans sound knew no boundaries. By 1919 the Original Dixieland Jazz Band was performing in England and Bechet was in France; their music was wholeheartedly welcomed.

From 1919 Kid Ory’s Original Creole Jazz Band of musicians from New Orleans played in San Francisco and Los Angeles where in 1922 they became the first black jazz band of New Orleans origin to make recordings.

King Oliver, who had led popular bands in New Orleans along with trombonist Edward “Kid” Ory, established the trend-setting Creole Jazz Band in Chicago in 1922. Also in Chicago, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings blended the Oliver and Original Dixieland Jazz Band sounds and collaborated with Jelly Roll Morton in 1923.

Prohibition in the United States (from 1920 to 1933) banned the sale of alcoholic drinks, resulting in illicit speakeasies becoming lively venues of the “Jazz Age”, an era when popular music included current dance songs, novelty songs, and show tunes. Jazz started to get a reputation as being immoral and many members of the older generations saw it as threatening the old values in culture and promoting the new decadent values of the Roaring 20s.

Bix Beiderbecke formed The Wolverines in 1924. Also in 1924 Louis Armstrong joined the Fletcher Henderson dance band as featured soloist for a year, then formed his virtuosic Hot Five band, also popularising scat singing. Jelly Roll Morton recorded with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in an early mixed-race collaboration, then in 1926 formed his Red Hot Peppers.

New Orleans musicians and musical styles continued to influence jazz nationally as the music went through a rapid series of stylistic changes. Jazz became the unchallenged popular music of America during the Swing era of the 1930s and 1940s. Later innovations, such as bebop in the 1940s and avant-garde in the 1960s, departed further from the New Orleans tradition.

Link Directory
Stylistic origins: Blues, Folk, March, Ragtime
Cultural origins: Early 1910s New Orleans
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Mainstream popularity: 1920s–1960s
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New Orleans & Frommers Google Map by Mission District historian dedicated to music, and more specifically to the blues, which has a great place in my heart  Your Online Source for Historical Jazz

30 greatest jazz trumpet players of all-time @

The Word Jazz, Baseball & San Franisco
A more lasting influence emerged in 1913, in a series of articles by E.T. “Scoop” Gleeson in the San Francisco Bulletin, found by researchers Peter Tamony (who carried out the pioneering research in this area) and Dick Holbrook, that likely were instrumental in bringing jazz to a broader public. These initial articles were written in Boyes Springs, California, where the San Francisco Seals baseball team was in training. In the earliest reference, on March 3, 1913, jazz was used in a negative sense, to indicate that disparaging information about ball player George Clifford McCarl had turned out to be inaccurate: “McCarl has been heralded all along the line as a ‘busher,’ but now it develops that this dope is very much to the ‘jazz.’”Three days later, on March 6, Gleeson used jazz extensively in a longer article, in which he explained the term’s meaning, which had now turned from negative to positive connotations:

“Everybody has come back to the old town full of the old “jazz” and they promise to knock the fans off their feet with their playing. What is the “jazz”? Why, it’s a little of that “old life,” the “gin-i-ker,” the “pep,” otherwise known as the enthusiasalum. A grain of “jazz” and you feel like going out and eating your way through Twin Peaks. It’s that spirit which makes ordinary ball players step around like Lajoies and Cobbs.”

The article uses jazz several more times and says that the San Francisco Seals’ “members have trained on ragtime and ‘jazz’ and manager Del Howard says there’s no stopping them.” The context of the article as a whole shows that a musical meaning of jazz is not intended; rather, ragtime and “jazz” were both used as markers of ebullient spirit.

the Literary Digest wrote on April 26, 1919, that “[t]he phrase ‘jazz band’ was first used by Bert Kelly in Chicago in the fall of 1915, and was unknown in New Orleans.”

New Jazz Museum & Performance Space for New Orleans in 2010

Old U.S. Mint

New and future Jazz Museum at 400 Espanade Ave.  at the base of Frenchman Street
"This project is not about preserving the past," Blanchard said. "It's about recognizing theTerence_Blanchard.jpg past and moving into the future." said acclaimed composer and trumpeter Terrance Blanchard.


Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and Obama Interior Department Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett announced plans to transform the third floor of the Old U.S. Mint on Esplanade Avenue into a multimillion-dollar jazz performance space and museum slated to open  spring 2010.

Grammy Award-winning  jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his wife/manager, Robin Burgess, are expected to help book concerts oversee educational programs and launch the resource.

Plans call for a modular 4,000-square-foot performance space with seven different stage configurations. An on-site studio will make live concert recordings and radio broadcasts possible.

The project is a state/federal partnership involving the Louisiana State Museum, which owns the Old U.S. Mint, the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and the U.S. Department of the Interior and National Park Service. The state and the National Park Service have each dedicated $2 million to the project.

Burgess hopes to develop a jazz subscription series similar to those of local opera and ballet companies, where patrons buy a season's worth of tickets. She believes a high-end jazz venue can attract the sort of high-profile jazz tours that routinely bypass New Orleans.

Louisiana Mint State Museum Official Site
Minting operations ceased in 1909 and, for the next 57 years, the Mint served a variety of official purposes. In 1966 the landmark was transferred to the state and in 1981 opened to the public as a State Museum site.
During Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the building lost its copper roof which flew down the street, landing on the French Market.

The museum contains a collection of pictures, musical instruments, and other artifacts connected with jazz greats -- Louis Armstrong's first trumpet is here. It tells of the development of the jazz tradition and New Orleans's place in that history.

 "Music gives the universe soul, the mind wings and the imagination a chance to escape. It gives seriousness charm and happiness and joy to all life."

Three types of Bands: Ragtime, Sweet & the blues

"From about 1900 on, there were three types of bands playing in New Orleans. You had bands that played ragtime, ones that played sweet music, and the ones that played nothin' but blues. A band like John Robichaux's played nothin' but sweet music and played the dirty affairs. On a Saturday night Frankie Duson's Eagle Band would play the Masonic Hall because he played a whole lot of blues. A band like the Magnolia Band would play ragtime and work the District...All the bands around New Orleans would play quadrilles starting about midnight. When you did that nice people would know it was time to go home because things got rough after that."

---Pops Foster, "Pops Foster: The Autobiography of a New Orleans Jazzman"

Funky Butt, Storyville:
"It was a real rough place. You have to take your razor with you `cause you may have to scratch somebody before you leave. The men never put their hats down. They put it on their arm to dance slow with the chick. And nobody better touch it either. After the dance was over, they'd ask did you touch my hat, partner? Yeah! Wop. He'd hit `em in the chops and fight was on."

---Louis Armstrong Funky Butt Hall, in Storyville,

File:Louis Armstrong NYWTS 3.jpg

One of the most famous Bolden numbers is a song called "Funky Butt" one of the earliest references to the concept of "funk" in popular music, now a musical subgenre unto itself.

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say,
Funky-butt, funky-butt, take it away.

Jazzy and jubilant, soulful and spiritual, rocking and rolling – New Orleans music tells the story of the city and its people to anyone who will hear it, and in the most eloquent ways imaginable.
 Come and listen.

On the Road:
"There was this club, too, that we played at, the Twenty-Five Club. That was about 1912, 1913; and all the time we played there, people were talking about Freddie Keppard. Freddie, he had left New Orleans with his band and he was traveling all over the country playing towns on the Orpheum Circuit. At the time, you know, that was something new and Freddie kept sending back all these clippings from what all the newspapermen and the critics and all was writing up about him, about his music, about his band. And all these clippings were asking the same thing: where did it come from? It seems like everyone along the circuit was coming up to Freddie to ask about this ragtime. Especially when his show, the Original Creole Band, got to the Winter Gardens in New York...that was the time they was asking about it the most. Where did it come from? And back at the Twenty-Five these friends of Freddie's kept coming around and showing these clippings, wanting to know what it was all about. It was a new thing then."

Sidney Bechet, "Treat It Gentle"

Sidney Bechet publicity photo
Sidney Bechet

Sidney Bechet (May 14, 1897 – May 14, 1959) was one of the first important soloists in jazz  Forceful delivery, well-constructed improvisations, and a distinctive, wide vibrato characterized Bechet's playing according to One of the first real jazz improvisers and an accomplished musician before he was 10, Bechet moved from clarinet to laying mainly soprano saxophone. He was to become one of the most famous early jazzmen abroad, visiting England and France in 1919 and Moscow in 1927.  He lived a very rich life, always managing to "make the scene" where it was "happening", whether it be in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Berlin or Paris.
In Chicago in the early 1920s, Bill Johnson assembled King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, considered the best of the early ensemble style jazz bands featuring all stars of early jazz.

Bill Johnson in 1909

Bill Johnson in 1909 he became one of the first band leaders to take Jazz outside New Orleans to California. He was also an innovator on his bass instrument

In 1909 he was the leader of a band in California. In 1912 he sent for Freddie Keppard and several other New Orleans musicians and toured the country until 1918 on the Orpheum circuit under the name of The Original Creole Orchestra.

Bill Johnson was also considered the father of the "slap" style of string bass playing. Johnson claimed to have started "slapping" the strings of his bass (a more vigorous technique than the classical pizzicato), after he accidentally broke his bow on the road with his band in northern Louisiana in the early 1910s. Other New Orleans string bass players picked up this style, and spread it across the country with the spread of New Orleans Jazz.William Manuel "Bill" Johnson

First Band to Record
Ory's reply when asked by a fan for tips on playing the trombone was never do it for nothing. He named King Oliver "King."
Kid Ory was the greatest trombone player in the early years of Jazz. Ory's Band featured many of the great musicians who would go on to define the Hot Jazz style. At various times King Oliver, a young Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet and Jimmie Noone all played in Ory's band. In 1919 Ory relocated to California for health reasons. He assembled a new group of New Orleans musicians on the West Coast and played regularly under the name of Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra. In 1922 they became the first African-American jazz band from New Orleans to record.
During the Depression Ory played very little and ran a chicken ranch with his brother. When the Dixieland revival occurred in the 1940's, Ory found his style of music back in vogue. He revived Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra in 1943 and was able to continue to play, tour and record Jazz becoming an important force in reviving interest in New Orleans jazz, and making it popular on radio broadcasts until he retired in 1966 to Hawaii.

The cornet

The cornet is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet, distinguished by its conical bore, compact shape, and mellower tone quality. The most common cornet is a transposing instrument in B
In old style jazz bands, the cornet was preferred to the trumpet, but from the swing era onwards it has been largely replaced by the trumpet, although it has never passed completely out of use. The cornet is now rarely found in big bands mainly because of its limited volume and less piercing tone in comparison to the trumpet. A growing taste for louder and more aggressive sounding instruments has been the chief cause of this trend, especially since the advent of bebop in the post World War II era.

The legendary jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden played the cornet, and Louis Armstrong, probably the best-known jazz cornetist, started off on the cornet as well, but later switched to the trumpet. Cornetists such as Bubber Miley and Rex Stewart contributed substantially to the Duke Ellington Orchestra's early sound. Other influential jazz cornetists include King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, Ruby Braff and Nat Adderley.




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