Our jazz is culturally black, but its global dissemination owes a lot to Italians

May 05, 2017 985

BY: Anna Celenza

As genres go, New Orleans-style jazz is the quintessential musical hybrid, mixing everything from brass band marches and French quadrilles to beguine, ragtime and blues. There’s no disputing that the cross-fertilization was carried out under an innovative performance style that first took root in New Orleans in the hands of African-American musicians. But what accounted for the rapid spread of jazz — or “jass” — was the mesmerizing synthesis of its myriad musical characteristics by musicians of various ethnicities, not least of them Italian.

As jazz developed in New Orleans during the 1910s, listeners became captivated by its upbeat, syncopated energy, which in turn made it ripe for commercialization via the latest recording technologies. Jazz is rooted in the genius of Scott Joplin, Buddy Bolden and other African Americans, but its emergence as what would become the 20th century’s defining musical innovation occurred far from Basin Street. Indeed, rarely can the advent of a musical revolution so huge be traced as precisely to a single moment: Feb. 26, 1917.

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SOURCE: http://thelensnola.org

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