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A style of music originating in the 20th century in New Orleans which combined elements of European-American and African music. This style of music was developed largely in urban areas, starting in New Orleans, then moving to Chicago, then to New York. It is an improvisational, expressive style of music, characterized by syncopated rhythms, 'blue notes' and the use of seventh and ninth chords.

The term itself has no definitive origin and has had numerous meanings throughout the years. Prior to 1912, it was a slang term, notably in impolite society, until it was first seen in print in 1912 to generally mean “uncontrolled energy”. It was used as a baseball term describing a new curve ball pitch as a “jazz ball” (unpredictable and hard to hit).

The use of jazz as a musical term probably appeared in Chicago around 1915 and described the musical energy of the bands from New Orleans. The musical term jazz was intended as a compliment (full of energy and life), and the term to “ jazz it up" is still used today. As a new word, it was spelled in a variety of ways such as jazz, jas, jass, and jasz.

At least two recordings came out in 1916 that used the term jazz. Clarence Williams wrote and recorded “Brown Skin, Who You For” which contained the word ‘jazz’ in the lyrics, and the Thomas Edison company recorded "That Funny Jas Band from Dixieland". By 1917, the current spelling of jazz became the accepted spelling on sheet music and recordings.


Horace Silver and Jon Hendricks: "Doodlin"

Jazz, New Orleans style: Joe King Oliver's: "Canal Street Blues"



Last Updated: 2016-05-19 18:14:56