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Where Did Jazz Begin?

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RonPrice View Drop Down
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    Posted: 31 May 2014 at 8:09am

The Congo Square in New Orleans is now seen by jazz scholars as the originating locus of American jazz.  In Marshall Stearns’ history of jazz the beginnings of jazz are situated in Congo Square. Dancing and socializing was permitted to African slaves in antebellum New Orleans from economic motives of the New Orleans establishment.  The dances, which records indicate began as early as 1817, became an important tourist attraction for the city.  –Ron Price with thanks to Marshall Stearns, The Story of Jazz, Oxford Univ. Press, NY, 1956, p. 50.

Most recent narrative jazz histories begin their discussions of the music at a much later date, during the rigid, post-Reconstruction imposition of Jim Crow in New Orleans. The subsequent enforced musical fraternization between light-skinned, high-caste Creoles of color, who favored European styles of music, and the Africanist music making of darker-skinned, working-class blacks has also played an important part in most histories of jazz. But Stearns’s work, though in some ways superceded by efforts of contemporary jazz scholars, remains important. His discussion of Congo Square, while often ignored, has not, to my knowledge, been disputed. The Congo Square dances began “at a signal from a police official” that “summoned” the slaves to the square. –See Herbert Asbury, The French Quarter, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1936, p. 269; quoted in Stearns, The Story of Jazz, p. 51. 

In a later study, Stearns notes that the Congo Square dances were “a tourist attraction that had the sanction of the city government.” -Marshall and Jean Stearns, Jazz Dance:The Story of American Vernacular Dance, Da Capo Press, NY, 1968, p.19.

1817 was a big year for the Baha’is.

Six million of them now celebrate the 

birth of Baha’u’llah on 12/11/....1817.

The 1st American school for the deaf

opened, and construction began on the 

Erie Canal. Alexander Lucius Twilight was 

the 1st black to graduate from a US college.

John Quincy Adams became Secretary of State
The 1st Mississippi "Showboat," left Nashville

on its maiden voyage. The 1st sword swallower 

performed in the U.S. Indeed 1817 was a big year.


married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)
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Frederic_Alderon View Drop Down
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The origins of jazz music date back to the second half of the 19th century to New Orleans. New Orleans was the only place in America that allowed slaves to own drums and slaves who had come from West Africa had a strong tradition of music that they wanted to keep alive.
But right after appearing, some where in the beginning of the century it got a great growth elsewhere. The Jazz Age was a period in the 1920s when jazz truly took off, spreading and reaching its height. It was during this time that the music and dance styles associated with it became popular not only across the United States but also in Europe. Jazz became as synonymous a part of the "Roaring Twenties" as speakeasies, flappers, and prohibition. In 1918, right before the start of the Jazz Age, Paul Whiteman (1890-1967) and his orchestra became popular in San Francisco and in the years to come they toured America and Europe. Whiteman is one of the major figures to popularize jazz among white, middle-class Americans. Following Whiteman's success, a number of black jazz musicians like Duke Ellington (1899-1974) and Louis Armstrong (1901-71) saw success, jumping into jazz music now that it was mainstream. The 1930s saw the end of the Jazz Age and the rise of big swing bands, although people like Count Basie (1904-84) and the aforementioned Ellington helped to develop the big jazz band. Despite the dominance of jazz ending with the Great Depression, the music has continued to evolve with new styles and sub-genres forming as its influence on pop-culture continues to echo through time.
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