Jazz - America's Music

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
October, 2016

Jazz is the only musical art form that was created in America. All musical genres that are heard today can pay homage to the musical elements that Jazz created. The origin of Jazz combines elements of Opera, Blues, Louisiana Creole Music, Ragtime and Minstrel show compositions to create a truly unique gumbo of sound. This sound developed in New Orleans’ red light district area called ‘Storyville'. People who lived the ‘sporting life’ enjoyed the new tunes that were taking shape.

Most people forget that New Orleans, at one time, was the biggest port city in America when Jazz started its humble beginnings. With this claim to fame, people from all walks of life brought their musical taste and influence to the city. It’s only natural that sailors and merchant marines who wanted to enjoy themselves went to Storyville and began to spread the word about this new music coming from New Orleans.

There have been many musical art forms that have developed over time, but Jazz is indubitably American. It adopted some elements from the Old World and mixed the pain and the youth of a young country that was continuously trying to define itself. The origin of Jazz might be Old World but when it improvised with New World innovation and a daring spirit, that’s what made it uniquely American. Jazz takes a melody and one by one a musician plays around that melody to give a unique interpretation of that piece.

By doing so, the musician invokes feelings of nostalgia, intelligent dualism, sadness, rage, romanticism and even joy.  Jazz is a reflection of what America is and that’s why Jazz is quintessentially American.


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