The History of Jazz in Storyville, New Orleans

A discussion on the history of jazz and its legends.

The paper relates that Buddy Bolden was the leader of what is widely considered the first popular jazz band; the paper discusses his legend and how he contributed to the spread of jazz. The paper looks at Storyville, New Orleans as the center of jazz and addresses the myths and legends in the history of jazz. The paper notes that even if jazz was not the exclusive creation of New Orleans, it was the musicians inhabiting that city who defined it and gave it a formal and distinct identity.
“Jazz music is shaped by the “sacred and the profane.” (Berry: 42) Religious hymns, not always played as funeral dirges, formed a basis for the musical digressions that black musicians initiated during the late 19th and early 20th century histories of African-American folk music, where traditional classical instruments were being re-formed at the time that French-Creole and post-Civil War African-Americans were experimenting with upbeat interpretations of traditional spiritual music (Standish)
“The transition from spiritual to secular lyrics provided the musical innovation of “jazz” with a notable duality. The spiritual roots gave a structural form to from which to improvise; however, the secular lyrics can be understood as specific to the community that was forming in Storyville, New Orleans. The lyrics prompted an observation in a 1918 Times-Picayune 1918 editorial that compared “jass” music to the “…dime novel and grease-dripping doughnuts: ‘All are manifestations of a low streak in man’s tastes that has not yet come out in civilization’s wash.’ (Berry: 43) There was something perceived as “indecent” about this ‘jass’ music.”

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