Jazz music is one of the most diverse and influential music genres around. The most impressive aspect of jazz music is how it evolved throughout the twentieth century. Jazz music was the era-defining voice of the 1900’s. Though there are various subgenres of jazz, in this post, I will be talking specifically about 1920’s prohibition era, also known as the “jazz age”.
Jazz music of the roaring twenties originated from Dixieland Jazz from New Orleans. With African folk roots and some European influence, jazz evoked a colorful and unique feeling in people. This style of music first emerged with African-American musicians during a time of racism and social stigma. Therefore, it took a while for it to catch on to the rest of America. But the contagious swing and syncopation of jazz was just too hard to ignore, and it quickly took off once it was recognized.
In the twenties, jazz was considered smooth and hip, and this was mainly due to its association with prohibition. In an attempt to better the economy and the corruption and crime in America, Protestant conservatives issued a ban on all alcoholic beverages, cutting off trade and shutting down alcohol manufacturers nationwide. Of course, this did not completely eradicate it. The roaring twenties was a time of rebellion, where flappers and gangsters challenged social norms through fashion and promiscuity. They established speakeasies in towns all over the country. Speakeasies were secretive underground bars where people would go to let loose and have a good time. In most speakeasies there were live jazz bands, and popular music and dances became part of flapper culture. Jazz music even had an influence on classical composers, and was just about the only mainstream music anyone was talking about at the time.
Some of the most famous jazz artists to come out of the roaring twenties include: Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Bix Beiderbecke, and many more. Their contributions to the colorful jazz age are considered timeless, and future artists have attempted to recreate their styles despite the ever changing and evolving mainstream music.
If you have any ideas on what genre I should cover next week, comment below!