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Gabriella Gianova

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Short History of Jazz Music in United States


United States is considered as the homeland of Jazz music. A lot of people there
compose, perform, and listen to this music since long time ago. However, it was a tough and
long way to make Jazz music as popular as it is right now. People only started to recognize
this music after jazz bands record their music and perform it at cafes and bars. Here is a slight
explanation of Jazz history in United States and how it made its way to prominence.
A lot of people know that the origin of Jazz music is America. Nevertheless, the truth
is, Africa is the ancestral homeland of Jazz music. Jazz culture has developed since the early
1600s when the first Africans arrived in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1619. There are
approximately 523.000 Africans came as slaves to the United States around that time. In
Africa itself, the Jazz seeds grow in West and Central coastal Africa. Plenty of ethnic groups,
each with their own characteristic, have contributed to the formation of African-American
music. When African culture mixed with European culture in the United States, the African
traditional music did not disappear. Instead, they took elements from European culture to
enrich and develop their components. This fact could be considered as the beginning of Jazz
music culture in the United States.
By 1750 the slaves were being introduced to singing schools so they could write their
music, not just singing it. So the repertoire were started being written. By 1867, the first book
of Negro songs: Slave Songs of the United States, was published. Since then, they keep
developing their music until white people start to recognize this kind of music. For the
example is Daniel Emmet, a white composer who was one of the earliest developers of this
music. He made an instumental ensemble which focusing on performing this music called
Virginia Minstrels. This genre of music then called blues, or the New Orleans style which
begin at 1928, marked by Louis Armstrong, a well-known black trumpet player.

During the twenties, Jazz started to spread in many directions, on various levels, and
at different speeds. Negroes and white jazzman started to form their own band with their own
characteristic in exploring their instruments and performing. For the example is the Original
Dixieland Jazz Band which started in New Orleans in 1917. They brought jazz in a unique
way which attracts people, slowly widen their influence to outside New Orleans, performing
in many cities like New Jersey and New York, and made their own recordings.
Most people know United States as the origin of Jazz music but actually, the seeds of
Jazz were brought by African slaves. After a long history of blending and mixing with
European and local culture, Jazz came up with its own shape and characteristics. Although at
first it was a rough and difficult road to even perform in underground cafes and pubs,
eventually Jazz music has made its own way to be appreciated by people and gain a lot of
listeners.