The Evolution of Jazz

Discusses the history of jazz as an off-shoot of African-American culture.

Jazz was created as a reaction to the African-Americans’ need to create their own form of culture. This paper examines how jazz evolved from the black marching bands of New Orleans after the Civil War. The paper examines the history of jazz from the 1920s and 1930s until World War II.
As the decade progressed, the performance styles in all groups featured more written arrangements and placed increasing emphasis on solo performance. Representative of the many players who led the outburst of jazz virtuosity in the 1920s were Sidney Bechet, Ferdinand Jelly Roll Morton, Coleman Hawkins, Armstrong, and James P. Johnson. Among the leaders in establishing the sound of the new big bands were Fletcher Henderson (with Don Redman, his arranger) and Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington. It was Henderson who developed the performance style that became known as swing, featuring call-and-response patterns between brass and reeds.