Between the year 1900 and 1920, there was a lot happening in New Orleans by way of music. Among popular musical forms, African music and ragtime were quite common. There was also an inclination towards the use of brass instruments.
It was here that through jamming, performing and mixing various musical styles that Jazz was born. As a jazz band that is devoted to covering and playing traditional and Dixieland jazz, our band – the Razzmajazz Dixieland Band draws on the work of some great names in the history of jazz. We’re going to elaborate on some of the jazz musicians we feel have been instrumental to shaping the genre!
Great Jazz Contributors that Helped Define the Genre
As the 1920s took off, various parts of the world experienced massive social changes. Jazz music quickly gained popularity and continued to enjoy center stage even decades later. This being said, it was between the 1920s and 1940s that some of the greatest jazz contributors performed and did their bit for jazz music in general.
No list of jazz contributors would be complete without a mention of the great Louis Armstrong aka “Satchmo” (short for satchel mouth). Though he started with street performance, Louis Armstrong was an adept musician and was quickly noticed by other more established musicians around him.
He also spent an extensive amount of time playing for the marching band in one of the homes he was sent to in his younger days finally making bandmaster. After making his break, Louis proceeded to take the musical world by storm.
When it comes to his contributions to the genre; apart from being the first solo jazz artist and a world famous trumpet player, Armstrong also served as a powerful influence for many artists to follow. He also paved the way for jazz musicians to find their place in large scale show business. Finally, his playful stage antics and free flowing style of performance helped loosen up the genre making it more upbeat and enjoyable for many.
Born to a German-American home, Bix Beiderbecke was thoroughly impressed by the work of Louis Armstrong. It was his astute musical sense and ability to identify notes after listening to musical pieces on the piano is what helped him establish himself as a musician.
Even though Bix’s music instructor hoped to teach him to read and write music, Bix relied on raw talent and continued to play by ear. As recognized by his contemporaries, Armstrong included; Bix’s contributions to jazz included linearly structured melodies which were less influenced by chords. Further, his unique use of tones and the way in which he would swing the melodies he was playing were also techniques that jazz musicians that came after him admired and mimicked.
You have probably heard the term ‘jazz pianist’ but the word would be but a dead ringer if not for the contributions of numerous pianists of old. One of these is none other than Fats Waller. Born in New York (birth name: Thomas Wright Waller), back in 1904, fats was already playing music by age 6. By age 15 he had begun performing professionally.
What helped define, formulate and act as the basics for most of the jazz piano we hear today was what Fats coined the ‘Harlem Stride’. Apart from this, his animated manner of performing, and gorgeous vocals are among the things he is remembered and respected for.
There were numerous other jazz musicians that have made contributions to the genre and helped shaped the sound of jazz music today. The three listed here were some of the most important and most influential jazz artists to set foot on stage between the 1920s and 1940s.
Though jazz today has exploded into countless forms and genres, you can still sample a taste of the good old stuff if you connect with a live jazz band that covers Original or Traditional jazz including Dixieland Jazz. If you’re located in Dallas – TX or anywhere else in the state, we’d be happy to help you experience what original jazz is all about!