Jazz is the art of expression set to music! Jazz is said to be the fundamental rhythms of human life and man’s contemporary reassessment of his traditional values. Volumes have been written on the origins of jazz based on black American life-styles. The early influences of tribal drums and the development of gospel, blues and field hollers seems to point out that jazz has to do with human survival and the expression of life.
The origin of the word “jazz” is most often traced back to a vulgar term used for sexual acts. Some of the early sounds of jazz where associated with whore houses and “ladies of ill repute.” However, the meaning of jazz soon became a musical art form, whether under composition guidelines or improvisation, jazz reflected spontaneous melodic phrasing.
Those who play jazz have often expressed the feelings that jazz should remain undefined, jazz should be felt. “If you gotta ask, you’ll never know” —Louis Armstrong.
The standard legend about jazz is that it was conceived in New Orleans and moved up the Mississippi River to Memphis, St. Louis and finally Chicago. Of course that seems to be the history of what we now refer to as jazz, however, the influences of what led to those early New Orleans sounds goes back to tribal African drum beats and European musical structures.
“Jazz, like any artistic phenomenon, represents the sum of an addition. The factors of this addition are, to my mind, African music, French and American music and folklore.” —Robert Goffin, 1934.
In reviewing the background of jazz one can not overlook the evaluation over the decades and the fact that jazz spanned many musical forms such as spirituals, cakewalks, ragtime and the blues. Around 1891 a New Orleans barber named Buddy Bolden reputedly pitcked up his cornet and blew the first stammer