Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Role New Orleans Played In Jazz Music

Image source: wikimedia.org 
Each musical genre has its own history, but one of my favorites is that of jazz music. For me, nothing exemplifies an epic cultural revolution than the one begot by jazz. Allow me to explain.

During the late 19th century, the city of New Orleans was undergoing a musical shift. While the rest of the country was moving toward solid military marches, New Orleans was being heavily influenced by the voodoo rhythms brought on by migrants from East Africa. It was in this state where New World slaves were allowed to own and play their own instruments, typically drums. Not only were voodoo rituals openly practiced, but they were also well attended by both the rich and poor. Thus, European-styled sounds began mixing and blending with African drums. A new musical sound was created, and it was christened “jazz." People were enthusiastic about it; jazz was incredibly different from what everyone else was listening to. It was music that people could dance to – and dance they did.

Image source: louisanatravel.com
I find it beautiful that the spirit of jazz has lived on in New Orleans. When I do get the chance to visit it, I am always struck by how unchanged the place seems. The people are lively, and it always feels that there is something worth celebrating. As the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans also produced the most well-known groups and singers that personify the genre. And while there is a debate on when jazz officially started, whether it was in 1895 with Buddy Bolden or in 1917 with Nick LaRocca and his Dixieland Jazz Band, all musical experts will agree that without New Orleans’ tolerance during the late 19th century, jazz would have never been born. We should all be grateful for that.

Christopher J. Keehner here. I am an avid jazz fan and love learning new things about my favorite musical genre. Learn more about my passion by following me on Twitter.