Despite emerging in the late 19th century, jazz continues to innovate and evolve. In fact, jazz from the early 20th century was almost completely different than modern-day jazz and its varieties. And the city where this culturally rich and diverse music genre came into being was…. You guessed it, New Orleans! Let’s take a look at the birthplace of jazz and what made it thrive in the first place.
The Origins of Jazz
Over the years, there has been some debate as to where jazz really started. Some believe that jazz began at some of the smaller pubs and clubs in New York and Chicago. But all doubts soon came to rest when historian Dan Marquis found the first jazz musician in the US. He documented the life of the first jazz trumpeter in his book, which proved that he was from New Orleans.
And while there were no big names during the late 19th century, the African American communities at the time were alive with the sound of jazz. Of course, the first big-name jazz musician to come out of these communities was Jelly Roll Morton. Before the famous book by Don Marquis explicitly stated who was the father of jazz was, Morton claimed that he invented it.
But even though Jelly Roll Morton was an arrogant performer, he was nonetheless an impressive one. As an arranger and a composer, he was essential in the creation of jazz. Morton began his career playing in brothels throughout the Storyville District in New Orleans and would eventually rise to international fame. On the other hand, Budd Bolden never left Crescent City and didn’t even leave behind a body of work.
New Orleans: Where Jazz Innovators Were Born
Two of the pioneers of jazz were born and raised in New Orleans, but that wasn’t the role the city played in bringing jazz to the forefront. New Orleans was the crown city of jazz, not only because it started there, but also because all of the greats are from the city as well. Joe “King” Oliver went ahead and took his music to the north in search of more lucrative endeavors.
But while the King was making waves in the North, Louis Armstrong managed to take it much further. Thanks to his charismatic personality and his instantly recognizable voice, he managed to make jazz popular around the world.
And these are just two of the most popular jazz musicians to come out of New Orleans. There are lesser-known but equally relevant artists who came out of the jazz city. New Orleans also has the Musical Legends Park, which contains murals dedicated to the many incredible artists who made jazz what it is today.
It’s safe to say that New Orleans is still the premier location for jazz talent in the world right now, as the local scene remains very active. However, we need your support to keep jazz music alive! Please support independent musicians and order a copy of my album today: www.maggysimonsings.com/music.