History of Dixieland Jazz


      Blues and ragtime, along with a rich local brass band tradition and many other influences, came together in the late teens to early 1920s in New Orleans, Louisiana to create a new type of music called Dixieland jazz. Dixieland is also known as traditional jazz or New Orleans jazz. As jazz gained in popularity, it spread north from New Orleans to Chicago, New York, Kansas City, and across the Midwest to California.

      The name "Dixieland" was most likely derived from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, a New Orleans group who made the first publicly available recording of this style of music in 1917. The recording was very popular and the band gained international prominence as a result.

      Common instruments in a Dixieland jazz-style group included trumpet-cornet, clarinet, trombone, and occasionally the saxophone. The rhythm section could include the banjo, piano, drums, string bass, or tuba. Dixieland was usually performed without a vocalist. The music was characterized by a steady, often upbeat, tempo, 4/4 meter, and rhythms performed in an exaggerated triplet swing style. Frequently the tuba or string bass plays on the first and third beats of each measure, with the banjo or piano playing chords on beats two and four. This is known as "two-beat" style, and gives the music a sound similar to ragtime. The other instruments of the ensemble play melodies and countermelodies simultaneously and take turns playing solos. Musicians often play familiar melodies from memory adding their own bluesy inflections throughout the song.

      Dixieland jazz greats included trumpeter Louis Armstrong, pianist Jelly Roll Morton, trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, trombonist Edward "Kid" Ory, clarinetist Sidney Bechet, and bandleader and trumpeter King Oliver.