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The JAZZ Story
An Outline History of Jazz
In the span of less than a century, the remarkable native American
called Jazz has risen from obscure folk origins to become this
most significant original art form, loved and played in nearly
every land on
Today, Jazz flourishes in many styles, from basic blues and ragtime
through New Orleans and Dixieland, swing and mainstream, bebop and
modern to free form and electronic. What is extraordinary is not
has taken so many forms, but that each form has been vital enough
survive and to retain its own character and special appeal. It
open ears and an open mind to appreciate all the many and
delights jazz has to offer.
Jazz developed from folk sources. Its origins are shrouded in
the slaves brought here from Africa, torn from their own ancestral
developed it as a new form of communication in song and story.
Black music in America retained much of Africa in its distinctive
elements and also in its tradition of collective improvisation.
blended with the music of the new land, much of it vocal, produced
than just a new sound. It generated an entire new mode of musical
The most famous form of early Afro-American music is the spiritual.
These beautiful and moving religious songs were most often heard by
white audiences in more genteel versions than those performed in
black churches. What is known as gospel music today, more
reflects the emotional power and rhythmic drive of early
music than a recording of a spiritual by the famous Fisk Jubilee
from the first decade of this century.
Other early musical forms dating from the slavery years include
songs, children's songs, and dances, adding up to a remarkable
especially since musical activity was considerable restricted under
BIRTH OF THE BLUES
After the slaves were freed, Afro-American music grew rapidly. The
availability of musical instruments, including military band
the new-found mobility gave birth to the basic roots of Jazz: brass
dance band music and the blues.
The blues, a seemingly simple form of music that nevertheless lends
to almost infinite variation, has been a significant part of every
and has also survived in its own right. Today's rock and soul music
be impossible without the blues. Simply explained, it is and eight
twelve) bar strain with lyrics in which the first stanza is
repeated. It gets its
characteristic "blue" quality from a flattening of the third and
of the tempered scale. In effect, the blues is the secular
counterpart of the
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