Jazz is a form of music that was first developed by African Americans. There are influences of African rhythms and European harmonic structure. In the early years of Jazz, it came from ragtime and blues. Characteristics of Jazz include some degree of improvisation, some deviations of pitch and syncopated rhythms.
Jazz is a form of music that evolved throughout the 20th century. There have been several phases in the development of Jazz including the New Orleans style of Jazz, which many people will associate with this genre of music. Other phases include free jazz. However, even though improvisation was important, so was arrangement and composition, which makes it very hard to define this genre.
Classical composers have been drawn to jazz over the years and these include Stravinsky and John Alden Carpenter. They were attracted to the instrumental sounds and the unusual effects.
The New Orleans style started very early in the 1900s and all types of jazz could be heard in the city when it was developing. The pioneers of the genre blended them all into one to make the distinctive style that we recognise today.
One of the most influential jazz musicians was Louis Armstrong. He was born in 1901 in New Orleans and took up music when he was just 13, perfecting the art of the jazz solo.
The basic rhythm of jazz is swing and this style became very popular during the 1930s and the Great Depression in the US. People were drawn to the uplifting spirit of the music and this led to the style of dance known as swing dancing. Big bands adopted the music style and orchestra leaders such as Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Duke Ellington became popular as a result.