During the times of colonialism, many people were taken from their homes, were enslaved, and were brought from Africa to America. This caused a huge wound all over the world and at the same time, it had a big influence on the formation of new musical styles. A big amount of enslaved people were taken to South America where they influenced many other musical styles such as Samba Tango or Salsa and only a smaller amount of people were brought to the US where Jazz originated.
During 4 centuries of slavery in the USA, the slaves developed their own kind of music and dances, influenced by the traditional West African Music.
After the year 1862, where slavery was officially abolished, the freed musicians would start to develop the Blues style of music, with its roots in the slave songs from the previous hundreds of years. In the Blues style of music, artists would often reflect on the reality of being black in the USA and the nature of racism and inequality. Followed by the melancholic Blues music, the loud and colorful style of Ragtime became very popular in the US. This allowed black pianists to show their skills for the first time in front of big crowds.
Jazz became really popular in the 1920s and 30s and it was influenced by Ragtime but instead of mostly playing it on the piano like Blues, Jazz allowed the musicians to include more and more instruments. When alcohol was banned in the USA, Jazz became even more popular because it was played in speakeasies and it was connected with being rebellious.
Unfortunately during the times of segregation, many black artists were banned from performing in a white Jazz band or attending white theaters.
After World War 2, the artist wanted to renew the old style of Jazz, which was mostly for dancing, into a musical style which was also very good for just listening to it and this is when Bebop became popular. Bebop was characterized by fast tempos, too fast to dance to, and with a lot of improvisations. During this time, many old classics from the earlier Jazz times were renewed with new and more complicated rhythms. Musicians also became less interested in being commercially successful. This is why other genres such as Rock became more popular than Jazz.
To this day Jazz is developing in a very creative way. Every Jazz artist has their unique way of changing it and adding new musical themes to the genre. Jazz has also influenced many modern music styles.
Jazz in general is a music style that gives the artist a lot of freedom to improvise. This freedom originated in the history of Jazz where African Americans had to fight for their rights and eventually brought different people together to enjoy the music.
Source : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQQLWDc7PSM
Melissa is a German volunteer in Praxis organisation involved in the World Jazz Day campaign.