A Brief Glimpse Into the History of Jazz

International Jazz Day is the 30th of April. This blog will take a look at the beginnings of jazz music, and a glimpse into jazz culture and some of the most popular jazz musicians who are remembered today as jazz icons. Jazz started in Congo Square, New Orleans. In the early periods of history, most of Louisiana's population had high levels of enslaved people. Enslaved people were brought to Louisiana to work the many plantations of Louisiana. The day of the enslaved was filled with work from dawn to dusk.

After a period of time in New Orleans, some Sundays were set aside as days for the slaves to gather, play drums, and enjoy "free time" Sundays. Out of this gathering rose one form of musical expression, jazz. Jazz is the blending of African and Afro-Caribbean music and European traditions. Jazz has been recognized as one of the popular mainstream forms of musical expression in traditional and popular music since the boom of the Jazz Age of the 1920s. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, complex chords, call and response vocals, polyrhythms, and improvisation. 

There are also many different styles of jazz music:

  • Traditional, New Orleans or Dixieland jazz - style originating from New Orleans in the 1920s.
  • Bebop - from the 1940s, fast tempo, complex harmonies and lots of improvisation.
  • Cool jazz - from the 1940s, a laid-back jazz style.
  • Latin jazz - jazz with rhythms from Latin America.
  • Jazz fusion - from the late 1960s that mixes jazz with other styles, like blues, funk or rock music.

There are many jazz icons who've hailed from New Orleans including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, and Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. To read more about the history of jazz, jazz culture, and musicians, check the following book list for selections from the St. Tammany Parish Library.

Jazz History, Music, and Culture

List created by STPLReferenceCovington

This list covers a sample of selections on jazz history, music, culture, and musicians available through the St. Tammany Parish Library.













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