A Historical Look At America's Jazz

    1890 - The start of the heyday of Ragtime
    1897 - New Orleans creates red light district known as Storyville - . It spawns such legendary founding fathers a s Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton.
    1917 - First jazz recording by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
    1922 - Armstrong moves to Chicago, plays with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and launches his own Hot Five.
    1927 - Duke Ellington and his Kentucky Club Orchestra set up shop at the Cotton Club in Harlem.
    1933 - Billie Holiday makes first recordings with Benny Goodman, begins collaboration with Lester Young.
    1935 - Benny Goodman launches the big band swing craze.
    1940 - Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie invent bebop.
    1949 - Miles Davis cuts "The Birth of the Cool - ." Cool jazz flourishes with such players as Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Stan Getz and Paul Desmond.
    1955 - John Coltrane joins Miles Davis Quintet
    1960 - Coltrane records "My Favorite Things," puts together his quartet and begins experimenting with solos that run as long as 45 minutes.
    1969 - Miles Davis "fuses jazz and rock in "Bitches Brew."
    1980 - Jazz struggles for direction. Miles Davis records with Lyndi Lauper.
    1984 - Wynton Marsalis wins Grammys as both jazz and classical soloist.
    1991 - Miles Davis dies.

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Lingo of Jazz...

From blues to bebop, fusion to swing, here is a quick trip through some of the "Lingo of Jazz"

  • Bebop: The first modern jazz style, evolved in the 40s. Bop's emphasis was on complexity, harmonic improvisation and technical virtuosity. Spectacular examples: Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
  • Blues: A 12-bar song form that evolved from black spirituals and work songs. It's unique elements are blue notes, speech-like inflection and emotional expressions.
  • Cool Jazz: A small-group jazz style that originated in the 1950s with Miles Davis' "Birth of the Cool" and is often identified with West Coast jazz. It's main features are subdued expression and a more intellectual approach.
  • Dixieland: A general label that usually refers to early New Orleans-style jazz or to the version of (pre-1930s) Chicago jazz played by white musicians.
  • Free Jazz: A controversial style of jazz that emerged in the 1960's in the music of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and others. The music - "free" of either conventional rhythm, harmony, melody or all of the above - often strikes new listeners as chaotic and unmusical.
  • Fusion: A mix of different musical styles - especially jazz and rock or jazz and R&B.
  • Improvisation: An on-the-spot musical mini composition in which a player (or, less often, a group) deviates from the original them (or song or tune) with as much ingenuity as he/she can manage without abandoning the original theme
  • Ragtime: A pre-jazz hybrid that combined European harmonies with the syncopated rhythms of black folk music. Most notable example: Scott Joplin.
  • Swing: Dance-oriented, big-band music that became immensely popular during the 1930's. Notable examples: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington
  • *From "Jazz For Beginners" by Ron David (Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc.)