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Origines Des Musique: Jazz
Sunday morning. I bask in the early wintry sun on my terrace, savouring a palatable brunch and a bit of a weekend tipple, which goes by the ceremonial name of the ‘Breakfast Martini’. Sir Louis Armstrong plays soothingly in the background. What more could one want from life?

As an ardent jazz lover, it gives me pleasure to contemplate the origins of this genre. Jazz, the word itself, has been an enigma for generations. It is supposed to have stemmed from American slang and is universally believed to be the individual voice, notoriously open to different musical possibilities.


And how, you might ask, did jazz get its name? Apparently F. Scott Fitzgerald used ‘Jazz’ in reference to the 1920s. In his mind, ‘jazz’ described the fast moving life en vogue during that historic era, so he called it The Jazz Age. Fitzgerald did not know jazz was a word used in Congo Square that had a sexual connotation.

This American musical art form is believed to have originated from the city of slaves, New Orleans, during the 20th century. It is deeply rooted in Blues, and African-American Folk as well as Ragtime, West African music, European marching bands and the 1910s New Orleans music also count among its influences. Recordings of Jazz did not begin until 1917, and even then the severe technical limitations of the primitive acoustical recording equipment distorted the true sound of the bands as they would have been heard in person.

The black Creole subculture that existed in New Orleans made its principal contributions to the origin of Jazz. The Creoles were the free French and Spanish-speaking Blacks who were originally from the West Indies, rising to higher New Orleans society during the 19th century where they lived in the French section of the city on the east side of the Canal Street. The Creoles were prominent in the economic and cultural life of that section. As musicians, they were trained in Paris and played at the Opera House and prided themselves on their formal knowledge of European music, precise technique and soft delicate tone. They had all of the social and cultural values that characterize the upper class.

However, things were not quite the same on the other side of Canal Street. The west side of the Canal was occupied mainly by the newly freed blacks, who were underprivileged, uneducated and lacked cultural advantages. This side was popularly known as the ‘back o’ town’ section and the musicians were self-trained. The musicians were schooled in the blues, Gospel music, and work songs that they sang or played mostly by ear. The songs they sang were mostly spiritual or sung to pass the time of hardship and hard labour. The songs were actually encouraged because the workers seem to work better with the soothing effects of the music.


You can read the rest of our special feature Origines Des Musique: Jazz in the January 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.




































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John Mayer
Aneela
Indipop, Snap and Crackle!
Boney M
Mobb Deep
Marit Larsen
Then & Now: George Michael
DJ Speak: DJ Whoo Kid
Rockin' India
Careers In Music: Behind The Song
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