The Roaring Twenties: The Birth of Jazz

Posted in: Jazz by javedhassan99 on March 24th, 2009 | 3 Comments

The birth of jazz as we know it today.

The Age

    The years after the end of World War I, continuing throughout the Roaring Twenties and ending with the rise of the Great Depression were years essential to the history of jazz. These years became known as the “Jazz Age.”  The music that people consider today as “jazz” tended to be played by minorities (mainly the black society). In the 1920s, the majority of people listened to what we would call today “sweet music”, with hardcore jazz categorized as “hot music” or “race music.”  It was very rare to see a white jazz ensemble which could perform at the same level as the black ensembles.

    Jazz music typically consisted of primary instruments such as the saxophones, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, upright bass, drums, vocals, and sometimes the tuba or clarinet.  Many times the ensembles also included a vocalist.  It originated from a mixture of the blues, folk, march, and ragtime styles.  It originated in the African-American communities of the Southern part of the United States of America (although Chicago did play a huge role in its birth).  It was created from a confluence of African and European traditions and so was widely enjoyed by nearly all races.

    The rise of the radio also increased the speed at which this new music spread.  KDKA was one of the largest and most well known radio stations. It began broadcasting in Pittsburgh in 1922. Radio stations subsequently were being created at incredible speed — reaching more people — and with them spread the popularity of jazz.  Many artists, including Louis Armstrong, became first heard and known nationally by airing on radio stations.

The Artists   

    Louis Armstrong gained fame as a horn player, then later became better known as a bandleader and vocalist. He was known mostly for his accomplishments on the trumpet as well.  He is many times attributed the “father” of the jazz age.  Louis Armstrong made his mark with improvisations and endless variations on a single melody, popularizing scat singing, often as part of a call-and-response interaction with other musicians on-stage.  His style was, at the time, unique and greatly added to his popularity. Louis Armstrong made a great career by doing gigs with “King” Oliver, Ella Fitzgerald and Kid Ory. He started his career in New Orleans and was influenced by the great “King” Oliver who Louis saw as a mentor and father figure.  His best music from his early years on the trumpet can be heard on his Hot Five and Hot Seven records.

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3 Responses to “The Roaring Twenties: The Birth of Jazz”
  • Javalava March 24th, 2009 at 9:21 am

    this is a very interesting article. i didn’t realize that this many musicians were so influential during this period.

  • Jane March 25th, 2009 at 11:06 am

    There were some parts i would change but not a lot. This article was interesting and was very informative. The style of writing was different and it kept me awake and interested.

  • Thales October 20th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Quite a good way of writing, indeed. Your work isn’t boring make me stay awake. but almost all of your information come from wikipedia so we can’t realy say if it is right. I liked it though.

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