Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Music called Jazz

Jazz is a music form characterized by improvisation and spontaneous creations of melody. Created by obscure black musicians in the late 19th century, jazz at first synthesized western harmonic language and forms with the rhythms and melody of Africa. The black marching bands of New Orleans that often accompanied funeral processions played traditional hymns on the way to the cemetery however, for the processions back to town they would break into jazzed-up versions of the same hymns.

Jazz is rooted in the mingled musical traditions of African Americans and include traits surviving from West African music; black folk music forms developed in the Americas; European popular and light classical music of the 18th and 19th centuries; and later popular music forms influenced by black music or produced by black composers. Among the surviving African traits are vocal styles that include great freedom of vocal colour; a tradition of improvisation; call-and-response patterns and rhythmic complexity.

The earliest recordings identified as Jazz made in 1917 in New York by the original Dixieland Jazz Band under the leadership of Nick La Rocca. The players were white musicians from New Orleans, playing the style that they learned from blacks in that city.

They first important recordings released by black musicians were made in 1923 by king Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, a group that included Louis Armstrong, Johnny & Warren “Baby” Dodds and Honore Dutrey.

A musician named Buddy Bolden appears to have led some bands that influenced early jazz musicians, but this music and its sound have been lost to posterity. Although some jazz influences can be heard on a few early phonograph records, not until 1917 did a jazz band record.

This band, a group of white New Orleans musicians called The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, created a sensation overseas and in the United States. Among the band’s many successors, two groups emerged in the early 1920s that were particularly celebrated: the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and the Creole Jazz Band,

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