As a musical language of communication, jazz is the first indigenous American style to affect music in the rest of the World. From the beat of ragtime syncopation and driving brass bands to soaring gospel choirs mixed with field hollers and the deep down growl of the blues, jazz's many roots are celebrated almost everywhere in the United States.
The city of New Orleans features prominently in early development of jazz. A port city with doors to the spicy sounds of the Caribbean and Mexico and a large, well-established black population, the Crescent City was ripe for the development of new music at the turn of the century. Brass bands marched in numerous parades and played to comfort families during funerals. Also, numerous society dances required skilled musical ensembles. New Orleans was home to great early clarinetists Johnny Dodds, Jimmy Noone and Sidney Bechet. One of the first great cornetist, Joe "King" Oliver and his leading student and future star, Louis Armstrong hailed from New Orleans along with other influential musicians including Jelly Roll Morton.
Chicago became the focal point for jazz in the early 1920s when New Orleans musicians found their way north after New Orleans clubs were closed down. Jazz began to gain wider notice as recordings made in the Windy City sold throughout America. Chicago was a magnet for musicians in the Mid-West. Famous musicians who received acclaim for their work in Chicago were Earl Hines, Johnny Dodds, Louis Armstrong and King Oliver.
New York City contributed to the richness of jazz in many ways. The first piano style to be incorporated into jazz was stride which developed from ragtime and was popular in New York. The city was also the center of the music publishing business. Also in New York, James Reese Europe experimented with a style of jazz that involved large orchestras. Many of his early recordings would be considered ragtime, though his later recordings in 1919 clearly show jazz improvisation. In the 1920s, New York City had two pioneering orchestras that would eventually greatly affect jazz history. Fletcher Henderson put together a band that first appeared at the Cotton Club in New York in 1923. Henderson's unit featured future jazz stars Coleman Hawkins and Don Redman but it wasn't until Henderson brought Louis Armstrong from Chicago to play with his group that the band began to develop into a full-fledged jazz group which would help to usher in the swing era.
Duke Ellington moved to New York from Washington, DC in the early twenties and began to develop the skills as an arranger and composer which brought to him the great fame he enjoyed throughout his career.
Another transplanted New Orleans native, Clarence Williams, had a hand in organizing many early jazz and blues recordings in New York. In the late twenties, the jazz center of the United States moved from Chicago to New York City as many musicians did also.
During the twenties and thirties there were many groups known as Territory Bands playing jazz in smaller United States cities. Kansas City's Blue Devils evolved into the Bennie Moten Band, which in turn became the basis for the Count Basie Band. Some other cities with burgeoning jazz scenes were St. Louis, Memphis and Detroit.
As jazz evolved, highly arranged dance music became the norm. When white musicians like Benny Goodman added black arrangements for their scores, jazz began to move into the Swing or Big Band period. Large black and white jazz bands toured the United States filling the radio airwaves with swing, a term which became synonymous with jazz. Great African American bands during the swing era were Jimmy Lunceford, Chick Webb, Mills Blue Rhythm and Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy. It was also a time when vocalists came to the forefront led by such favorites Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Fats Waller.
A Hystory of Jazz before 1930 (de http://www.technoir.net/jazz/index.htm)
The music called Jazz was born sometime around 1895 in New Orleans. It combined elements of Ragtime, marching band music, and Blues. What differentiated Jazz from these earlier styles was the use of improvisation, often by more than one player at a time. Jazz represented a break from Western musical traditions, where the composer wrote a piece of music on paper and the musicians then tried their best to play exactly what was in the score. In a Jazz piece, the song is often just a starting point or frame of reference for the musicians to improvise around. The song might have been a popular ditty or blues that they didn't compose, but by the time they were finished with it they had composed a new piece that often bore little resemblance to the original song. Many of these virtuoso musicians were not good sight readers and some could not read music at all, never the less their playing thrilled audiences and the spontaneous music they created captured a joy and sense of adventure that was an exciting and radical departure from the music of that time. The first Jazz was played by African Americans and Creole musicians in New Orleans. The cornet player, Buddy Bolden is generally considered to be the first real Jazz musician. Other early players included Freddie Keppard, Bunk Johnson, and Clarence Williams. Although these musicians names are unknown to most people, then and now, their ideas are still being elaborated on to this day. Most of these men could not make a living with their music and were forced to work menial jobs to get by. The second wave of New Orleans Jazz musicians like Joe "King" Oliver, Kid Ory, and Jelly Roll Morton formed small bands, that took the music of these older men and increased the complexity and dynamic of their music, as well as gaining greater commercial success. This music became know as "Hot Jazz", because of the often break neck speeds and amazing improvised polyphony that these bands produced. A young virtuoso cornet player named Louis Armstrong was discovered in New Orleans by King Oliver. Armstrong soon grew to become the greatest Jazz musician of his era and eventually one of the biggest stars in the world. The impact of Armstrong and other Jazz musicians altered the course of both popular and Classical music. African American musical styles became the dominant force in 20th century music.
The Red Hot Archive is a place to study and enjoy the music of these early "Jazzmen". Due to recent advances in technology it is now possible to broadcast text, music, and pictures around the world via the Internet. This site is an experiment in using this new multimedia technology. We hope it will combine the best of books and audio recordings, into valuable and enjoyable tool for appreciating this music and the men and women who produced it. This site is a work in progress and will continue to grow as more recordings and writings are added to the archive. Submissions, suggestions, and corrections are welcome.