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Jazz Music History

Explore jazz music history. It exploded into existence in the early 20th century, and has shot through the decades as an evolving and controversial art form. Straddling the line that separates popular music from art music, innovations of jazz masters have consistently rattled critics and audiences. Learn about the origins of this vivacious music, including important events and recordings.
  1. Introduction to Jazz (10)

Jazz History by Decade
Jazz has only been around for about 100 years, but in that time, it has shifted shapes numerous times. Read about the advancements made in jazz in the decades since 1900, and how the art has transmuted in response to cultural changes in America.

Jazz and the Civil Rights Movement
A profile of civil rights in jazz. How jazz musicians spoke out for racial equality and social justice.

Ten Swing Era Musicians
Below are ten musicians from the swing era, the days of jazz when dance halls were packed to hear and dance to the best big bands from around the country. Although swing was popular music, artists such as the ones listed developed styles that influenced later musicians, into bebop and beyond, setting the stage for jazz to become the valued art...

Ten Early Jazz Musicians
Listed below are ten of the most important musicians of early jazz. In the beginning of the 1900s, the innovations of these instrumentalists laid the groundwork for jazz to evolve into the vibrant art form it is today.

Five Legends of Latin Jazz
Combining the propulsive rhythms and spirited melodies of Latin music with jazz harmonies and improvisation, these musicians helped forge a genre that continues to thrive and expand. Below are short profiles of five of the most important contributors to the development of Latin jazz.

Ten Bebop Musicians
Bebop was characterized by its focus on improvisation. Borrowing from swing, and rooted in the blues, bebop is the foundation on which modern jazz was built. These ten musicians are responsible for bebop's creation and development.

Important Firsts
This Jazz in America page details groundbreaking historic events in the history of jazz.

Jazz Timeline
Jazz in America is a site devoted to jazz education. This links directly to a timeline highlighting important events in the development of jazz.

Harlem, 1958 - Jazz History Through One Photograph
At ten o'clock one August morning in 1958, photographer Art Kane managed to round up 57 of the most notable jazz musicians in New York for a picture that would become legendary. This site contains biographical and historical information about each of the musicians featured in the famous photograph.

Jazz - PBS Kids
This interactive site is designed to give children an overview and introduction to jazz. It features a timeline, video interviews with jazz musicians, and a jazz game and quiz.

Artist Profile: Ragtime Composer Scott Joplin
A profile of Scott Joplin, the premiere ragtime pianist and composer whose style paved the way for early jazz.

Album Review: 'Mingus Ah Um' by Charles Mingus
Review of Charles Mingus' 1959 album 'Mingus Ah Um.'

Album Review: 'Kind of Blue' by Miles Davis
Review of 'Kind of Blue,' the seminal album by Miles Davis.

Artist Profile: Saxophonist Sidney Bechet
A biography of saxophonist Sidney Bechet, one of the first early jazz musicians to develop a distinct and virtuosic style of improvisation.

Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: What's the Difference?
A brief look into what free jazz and free improvisation are, how they differ, and how they influence the jazz landscape today.

A Great Day in Harlem - A Film about the Iconic Photograph
A review of the film 'A Great Day in Harlem,' which tells the story behind the iconic 1958 photo of the same name which shows 57 notable jazz musicians together on a Harlem stoop.

Important Firsts
This Jazz in America page details groundbreaking historic events in the history of jazz.

Jazz Timeline
Jazz in America is a site devoted to jazz education. This links directly to a timeline highlighting important events in the development of jazz.

Harlem, 1958 - Jazz History Through One Photograph
At ten o'clock one August morning in 1958, photographer Art Kane managed to round up 57 of the most notable jazz musicians in New York for a picture that would become legendary. This site contains biographical and historical information about each of the musicians featured in the famous photograph.

Jazz - PBS Kids
This interactive site is designed to give children an overview and introduction to jazz. It features a timeline, video interviews with jazz musicians, and a jazz game and quiz.

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