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Early Jazz

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Early History of Jazz

Jazz is a style of music that began and has been revolutionized within the United States. Jazz music first appeared in the city of New Orleans and eventually moved onto Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, and New York City. Jazz unites different elements of African, African- American, religious, brass brand, and blues style of music. The music of Jazz, and its changes through the years, is now a form of music that is known and respected throughout this nation and the world.

Jazz music is a blending of both black and white tradition and heritages. New Orleans was the center of many different ethnicities, such as French, Spanish, American, and African American, which resulted in a city with a unique blend of individuals. New Orleans became a significant center of culture in the mid to late 1800's. It is believed that jazz was largely influenced from African slaves who were brought over in the 1800's, who did not have their native instruments, had to make due with what they could find in their new home of the southern United States. On arrival in America, they were exposed to western musical styles that include harmonies, tonal sounds, along with unique beats and rhythms. This resulted in a raw version of what we know as Jazz. Some components of early jazz are still found in the many modern forms of music such as soul and reggae.

Ragtime, considered to be the earliest type of jazz, was introduced in the very late 1800's and early 1900's. Also, ragtime was considered one of the most decorative and popular styles of music. Ragtime can best be described as a solo instrument style, usually consisting of a piano. As a means of income, many early Ragtime musicians would produce and sell their own music and have them published onto piano rolls in which they could be played in perosonally owned pianos. These piano rolls allow a new and large group of individuals to be exposed to the sounds of ragtime. Multiple moderns forms of music have derived form original ragtime including rhythm and blues.

One of the most influential ragtime musician and entertainer was Scott Joplin. Scott Joplin was born in Texarkana, Texas on November 24, 1868. Through his talent on the piano and as a composer, he is generally known as the "King of Ragtime." After leaving his formal music education at George Smith College, Joplin moved to Sedalia, Missouri where he was employed at the Maple Leaf Club of the Red Light District. He was later discovered here by John Stark who eventually published his first composition know as the Maple Leaf Rag. He later moved to St. Louis where he had the opportunity to perform for the next five years. Furthermore, he later left for New York, where he developed his own opera in 1911. This opera, called Treemanisha, was the first and only ragtime opera, but unfortunately, it only lasted one show. This was the falling point of his career, and he never regained the popularity he once had at the beginning of his career. In the 1970's, Joplin and his opera was rediscovered with the revival of ragtime.

The unique art form know as Jazz, was able to thrive initially in New Orleans. The most celebrated part of New Orleans was known as Storyville because it was a melting pot for Jazz. Storyville was so celebrated because it was the only region in the city that had brothels and pubs that allowed African Americans. Unfortunately, in 1970, President Roosevelt shut down the district in fear of violence between the natives and sailors. This resulted in a dispersion of jazz. Many artists traveled directly to Chicago after the closing of Storyville to restart their music.

Therefore, Chicago's south side became the new melting pot for jazz. On arrival in Chicago, jazz experienced a time where small performances and ensembles became more popular. These were headlined by a solo artist while the rest of the band provided background harmony and rhythm with multiple instruments. Jazz eventually

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