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The Birth of Jazz

A music created mainly by black Americans in the 20th century through an amalgamation of elements drawn from European-American and tribal African music. A unique type, it cannot safely be categorized as folk, popular, or art music, though it shares aspects of all three. It has had a profound effect on international culture, not only through its considerable popularity, but through the important role it has played in shaping the many forms of popular music that developed around and out of it.

What is the future for jazz?

There's certainly no specific answer to this question but because of all the many factors that it takes to make this American art form something that will have lasting tenure for generations to come.

As we begin the millennium of jazz , it is only fitting that we take a walk down the corridors of jazz and visit the states that were considered jazz capitals in the early years -with highlights of particular events of that time.


The early jazz and blues contribution to the music scene came after World War 11. This would indicate some downplay in popularity. A widely used misleading term "West Coast Jazz" sometimes may indicate sort of a more lighter and lilting sound originated by mostly the ivy league set; not true in all cases.

Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) began in 1944 at the Philharmonic auditorium located in Pershing street in Los Angeles. These shows were produced by Norman Grantz giving exposure to many noted musicians from both east and west coast: The sound coming from these swinging house rocking performances were far from being on the lighter side.

Highlights of the early years:

- The jazz workshop in San Francisco will feature Dizzy Gillespie followed by Kenny Burrell and his group.
- Henry Mancini blended his usual mixture of lush ballads and big band sounds at a Hollywood Bowl one nighter.
- Charlie Barnet opens at the Palomar ballroom in 1939, during his stay, the ballroom was destroyed by fire.
- Fats Waller plays his last residency at the Zanzibar club in 1943.
- The lighthouse cafe in Hermosa Beach becomes a leading venue for jazz, featuring Shelly Manne, Shorty Rogers, Art Pepper, Jimmy Giuffre and others.


Over the years, Miami has produced various nationally recognized jazz and blues artists from the 1930's through the 1960. The city has had an active and sophisticated jazz scene, which catered largely to the tourist trade. What is known as the Over town Square in the African-American section of town featured artists such as Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne and Nat King Cole. Drummer Panama Frances, bassist Jimmy Garrison, Saxophonist George Kelly, Blue Mitchell, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and his brother Nat, Fats Navarro, Ira Sullivan, are some of the musicians that have either been born or lived in Miami and the surrounding areas over the decades.

Once known as the Miami Beach auditorium, it has been renamed The Theater of the Performing Arts which was home for "The Jackie Gleason Show" that was taped for the CBS television network during the 1960's that featured many of his close friends including Charlie Ventura on tenor sax and Bobby Hackett on trumpet.

Highlights of the early years:

- Tobacco road in Miami hosts national jazz and blues talent including B.B. King, Albert Collins, Tag Mahal plus others.
- Helen O'Connell and her sextet was featured at Harry's American bar at Miami's Eden Roc hotel.
- Joe Reco's sound of jazz show can be heard nightly on WGBS-FM.
- Earl Bostic, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Arnett Cobb to be featured at The Fountainbleu in Miami.


It wasn't until 1915 when the first jazz musicians started to arrive in Chicago. They made their way up from New Orleans and the surrounding areas of the south. By the mid-1920's the city became a melting pot for many jazzmen that migrated from other parts of the country.

Joe "King" Oliver was known as the undisputed king of the jazz scene in the early years of Chicago. He was a mentor to Louis Armstrong during their friendship in New Orleans, and partly responsible for introducing "Satchmo" to the Chicago area, while they worked together in many of the night spots that were featuring jazz.

The opening of the Savoy Ballroom and theaters and clubs including the Regal theater and the Dreamland Cafe during these early years, paved the way for many jazz musicians to gain notoriety through the future decades.

Albert Ammons, known as one of the fathers of the boogie-woogie piano style often teamed-up with Duke Ellington's pianist Pete Johnson and Meade "Lux" Lewis sharing the bandstand at Cafe Society playing the blues and rockin' the establishments to sell out crowds.

Highlights of the early years:

- Back by popular demand at the Savoy Ballroom, Erskin Tate and his famous orchestra returns.
- Benny Goodman and Roy Eldridge at "Swing Out" convention at the 8th Regiment Armory in Chicago.
- The Panther Room will feature fats Waller and Mugsy Spanier in "The Battle of Swing".
- Oscar Peterson Trio followed by the Bill Evans Trio will appear at the London House.


The city of New Orleans is a collection of urban villages that played a big part in developing various music styles. Their extensive list of jazz, blues, and R&B musicians, that have made their mark of excellence throughout the past years that have left an indelible presence to the younger musician of today.

Since the early 1900's the sounds of Buddy Bolden, Louis "Satchmo", Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds and Jelly Roll Morton continues to live.

During the late 1940's, 50's and the 60's brought forth a strong influence of rhythm &blues that becomes a culmination to the New Orleans distinctive sounds of rhythmic and harmonic patterns that is known worldwide as the New Orleans sound.

From the 80's to the present time a new renaissance is revolving with the presence of Wynton Marsalis, Brandford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Terrence Blanchard and many others who are at the helm of the music scene in New Orleans.

Highlights of the early years:

- In 1953, Tommy Ridgley recorded his most popular instrumental "jam up" for Atlantic Records.
- At the age of twenty-two , keyboard maestro Allen Toussaint was given sole responsibility of musical direction for "Mini Records" in New Orleans.
- Pearl Bailey and Skitch Henderson were headliners on the New Orleans Music and Drama Foundation Series.
- New Orleans powerhouse drummer Earl Palmer backed up Della Reese on her weeknight NBC television show.
- Tenorman Zoot Sims brought his combo into Economy Hall of the Royal Sonesta Hotel to share billing with the Dukes of Dixieland.

New York

Although New York City has been known as a major center for jazz since the early 1920's. It is hard to believe that the Big Apple is a latecomer compared to other cities like New Orleans, and Chicago. New York's first major jazz center was Harlem, located in the northwestern part of Manhattan above West 110th Street was filled with many night clubs, dance halls, theaters and speakeasies. A blend of big band swing, blues and jazz has made this section of town a melting pot for musicians from the world over.

It wasn't until the 1940's when 52nd Street had taken the spotlight from Harlem. Small jazz clubs became new jazz centers for congregating musicians. The Onyx, Famous Door, The Three Deuces, Minton's and Monroe's were generating large crowds to see the bebop musicians give birth to a new style of jazz.

The popularity of Harlem, Greenwich Village, Upper West and the Midtown sections have been known for their contributions to jazz throughout the past decades.

Highlights of the early years:

- Jonah Jones and his Quartet featuring Cozy Cole, were back at the Rainbow Grill for the three-week engagement.
- Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, dance team the Nicholas Brothers, Chick Webb, Jimmie Lunceford plus others will headline the Cotton Club.
- Flip Phillips joins Larry Bennett and his group at the Hickory House on 52nd Street for a long engagement.

Just a short walk through the Corridors of Time will put you in touch with some of the most versatile musicians, vocalists, and composers who gave us what the music world is proud to call The Birth of jazz..........

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