March is the month for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.
The music that we call jazz was born around the year 1895 in New Orleans. It brought together the elements of Ragtime, marching band music, and the Blues. What made Jazz different from the other earlier forms of music was the use of improvisation. Jazz represented a break from tradition music where a composer wrote an entire piece of music on paper, leaving the musicians to break their backs playing exactly what was written on the score. In a Jazz piece, however, the song is simply a starting point, or sort of a starting point for the Jazz musicians to improvise around. The song being played may have been popular and well-known that the musicians themselves didn’t compose, but once they had finished, the
Jazz Musicians had more or less written a new piece of music that bore little resemblance to the original piece. Actually, many of these early musicians were bad sight readers and some couldn’t even read music at all. Regardless, their superb playing amazed audiences and the upbeat music they played was a different but well-liked escape from the traditional music of that time.
The first Jazz is thought to have been played by African Americans and Creole musicians in New Orleans. Buddy Bolden, a cornet player, is generally considered to be the first real jazz musician, possessing an incredible sound. Other early players of the time included Freddie Keppard, Bunk Johnson, and Clarence Williams. Most of these musicians may seen unknown to most people, their ideas are still affecting the way Jazz is being played today. Generally these early musicians could not make very much money and were stuck working menial jobs to make a living. The second wave of New Orleans Jazz musicians include such players as Joe Oliver, Kid Ory, and Jelly Roll Morton. These men formed small bands and took the music of earlier musicians, improved its complexity, and gained greater success. This music is known as “Hot Jazz” due to the enormously fast speeds.
A young cornet player by the name of Louis Armstrong was discovered by Joe Oliver in New Orleans. He soon grew to become one of the greatest and most successful musicians of all time, and later one of the biggest stars in the world. The impact of Armstrong and other early Jazz musicians changed the way we look at music, and their work will forever be studied and admired.
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