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Jazz History 1890-1980: Home

Jazz History, 1890-1980

Jazz Defined

Jazz is a kind of music in which improvisation is typically an important part. In most jazz performances, players play solos which they make up on the spot, which requires considerable skill. There is tremendous variety in jazz, but most jazz is very rhythmic, has a forward momentum called "swing," and uses "bent" or "blue" notes. You can often hear "call--and--response" patterns in jazz, in which one instrument, voice, or part of the band answers another. (You can hear Ella Fitzgerald and Roy Eldridge do "call and response" in Ella's Singing Class.) Jazz can express many different emotions, from pain to sheer joy. In jazz, you may hear the sounds of freedom-for the music has been a powerful voice for people suffering unfair treatment because of the color of the skin, or because they lived in a country run by a cruel dictator. Continue reading from National Museum of American History

Watch Jazz History

The Birth of Jazz

History of Jazz (2004)

Check Out a Book or Movie on Jazz 

Link to Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology by Smithsonian Folkways in the Catalog
Link to New York City Jazz by Elizabeth Dodd Brinkofski in Hoopla
Link to Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism by Thomas David Brothers in the Catalog
Link to Jazz Fest produced by Jeff Place et al in the Catalog
Link to Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns in the Catalog
Link to The Jazz Book by Joachim Ernst Berendt in Hoopla
Link to New Orleans Jazz by Edward J. Branley in Hoopla
Link to Jazz Historiography by Daniel Hardie in Hoopla
Link to DownBeat: The Great Jazz Interviews by Frank Alkyer in Hoopla
Link to Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development by Gunther Schuller in the Catalog
Link to Pressed For All Time by Michael Jarrett in Hoopla
Link to Jazz Classics Song Book by Jeff Arnold in Hoopla