Musicians Guide to Jazz Music
To a large extent Jazz evolved from the Blues, but is generally a lot more upbeat and laid-back. Jazz has a dedicated following of music lovers who appreciate the skill and talent displayed in the extensive improvisation by musicians, with virtually no two performances being exactly the same.
Jazz had many influences all along the East Coast of the USA, but most will claim that its greatest influence stemmed from New Orleans. When Jazz first began, it was often looked down upon by conservatives who believed it carried a bad influence. As a result, Jazz was often played in seedier bars and nightclubs. Despite the shunning of the majority, Jazz bands and clubs thrived underground. A change came about in the beginning of the 20th century when Caucasian people began to listen to big band music, adapting African-American dance styles. Prohibition also contributed to the flourishing of Jazz, due to the number of places that opened up selling illegal liquor and playing Jazz music. Soon audiences of all races warmed to Jazz music, with the advent of radio bringing its unique sound to the public.
One of the great Jazz bandleaders of that time was Paul Whiteman, who became known as “The King of Jazz”. Benny Goodman, was one of the first white bandleaders to hire black musicians, including the great Lionel Hampton. Other great names to come from this era were King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, and Duke Ellington. Jazz grew in popularity during the Depression, and it was a major player in the formation of swing in the forties.
As Rock and Roll progressed, many Jazz artists, such as Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, and Herbie Hancock mixed the two styles into a jazz fusion. More contemporary artists, like Wynton Marsalis, have sought for pure artistry in the form. Jazz still remains a popular American pastime, and is alive in clubs and festivals around the world.