Feature Jazz

Learn more about the history of jazz.


More from Elyse on the origins of Jazz music.

Technically, jazz is a hybrid of African-American music styles, including Ragtime, String bands and spirituals.

But jazz is far more than the sum of its parts.

It is quite simply the quintessential American art form.

Jazz was first played around the year 1900 in the city of New Orleans.

There and in neighboring towns and cities like Mobile, Alabama, jazz originators Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll Morton were inventing this new sound.

They played it everywhere, from house parties to funerals. Within a decade, jazz traveled up the Mississippi to St. Louis, Chicago and to a Manhattan recording studio.

The fact that jazz was born in the wake of the phonograph was clearly instrumental to its rapid cultural ascent.

The first recorded use of the word "jazz" dates to February 26, 1917.

That was the day that a combo that called themselves the original Dixieland Jass Band walked into a Manhattan studio and recorded the first jazz record.

The band spelled jazz with two “ss”, but it wasn't long before the world was going crazy for jazz with a pair of “z’s”.

Less than 30 years after its birth, jazz had traveled the world, become the popular music of the day and was on its way to unforeseen musical innovations.

Image: Portrait of Johnny Hodges, Rex William Stewart, Adele Girard, Harry Carney, Barney Bigard, and Joe Marsala. Source: Library of Congress