With the world evolving in every domain, holding on to the history and roots is as crucial as moving ahead with the changing times. And it is a common idea that should apply to all things; jazz music is not an exception.
There could be no doubt that jazz has continuously evolved over the past 100 years by absorbing the elements of European, pop, African, spiritual, marching & Latin origin and still holding on to its unique identity. This identity with its power makes it significant to trace back to its roots to understand its musical distinctiveness and its social significance for the people of the place from where it emerged.
Tracing back its history
We could trace the history of jazz back to being a purely American invention by the African American people signifying their struggles against racism and other discriminations through this form of creativity.
Geographically, it emerged from New Orleans, Louisiana. It has borrowed many elements from different spheres, like the sadness of the blues being merged with the rhythm of Africa, which is further aligned with instruments like trumpets, saxophones and pianos that have a European origin and a lot more. Jazz as a genre works on the two distinct characteristics, including improvisation and its emphasis on staying in the present & being faithful to one’s feelings. This distinctive quality renders it with the popularity that continues to date, making it one of the most preferred genres by many people.
The link between Racism and Jazz
With this art form emerging from the midst of African-American people whose lives were marked with slavery at that time, you can’t separate this music genre from its link with racism. Jazz as an art form helped people portray their struggles and feelings of being bound by slavery to put it out there in the world and get it recognised by those who tend to ignore their hardships. It also served as a source of healing and voice to their opinions, which ultimately transformed jazz into a form of revolution.
The identification of racism became even more rampant when the traits of jazz music blended with the music of White Americans to let racism seep even into the music ultimately. It could be seen from the resultant separation that history states between the blacks’ music and the whites’ music, with the former one only to be played with the black audience at the nightclubs. In contrast, the latter one touched the heights of fame and popularity.
Though jazz as a genre has a come a long way, evolving over 100 years and adding in new significance, the above-stated points bring to the forefront the fact that its origin by the African-Americans can be seen as a way of expression and a fight against discrimination.