New Orleans (AtoZ Challenge 2016 – Jazz Age Jazz)

New Orleans (Jazz Age Jazz Series) Although it isn't certain that jazz was born in New Orleans and less so when, it is quite likely that it happened in that area aroudn the end of the XIX century. besides, New Orleans, with its tollerance for the black culture and its multicultural life, was the perfect palce for a music like jazz to be born

Jazz Age Jazz - New Orleans

JAZZ AGE JAZZ - New Orleans #AtoZChallenge Where #jazz took its first steps Click To Tweet

N - New Orleans (AtoZ Challenge 2016) Where, when and why a certain kind of music was born may be very hard to define, particularly with regard to popular music. A particular kind of music may have existed for decades in certain communities before the general public became aware of it.
That’s the case for jazz. By the time the general public became aware of it, jazz had been played in African American communities throughout the South – nobody know for how long.
This being said, today it is generally accepted that jazz  arose in and around New Orleans at the turn of the XX century. At that time the city offered a unique combination of different cultural elements and influences that made it one of the foremost environments in which musicians created jazz.

A port city with doors to the spicy sounds of Caribbean and Mexico, very tolerant of the slave culture and home to a well-established black population, New Orleans was also still very strongly linked to her European origins, especially French and Spanish.
In this cultural and musical melting pot, jazz began to emerge as part of a broader musical revolution encompassing ragtime, blues, spirituals and marching bands among other experiences.

Joe "King" Oliver

Joe “King” Oliver

Much of this revolution happened in Storyville, New Orleans red-light district.
Storyville was established in 1897 by Sidney Story, a city official who supported an ordinance that confined the red-light district to a 38-block area. It was closed down by order of the Secretary of the Navy in 1917. This area was the only one in which white and a few black prostitutes could legally play their trade.
Like tenderloins and vice districts in many other cities, Storyville was controlled by collusion between politicians, entrepreneurs and the underworld. It brimmed with entertainment spots, like restaurants, bars, saloons, gambling houses and of course brothers – and all those places needed music. This is where many African American musicians (who were bar access to more respectable establishments) found job.
Dealing with a kind of audience who hardly care for the music being played, these musicians had almost unlimited freedom to experiment and to work out stylistic qualities of their own, in a very free, unconventional way.

But there was another element that made New Orleans pretty unique in the creation of jazz: his Creole population.
The Creaoles were free, French and Spanish speaking blacks originally from the West Indies. Because they were descendent from the first Europeans, they had a European education and could rose to the highest levels of New Orleans society, both economical and political. Most of them lived in the French Quarter of the city, east of Canal Street. The Creaoles loved music and many were conservatory educated.
In sharp contrast to them were the people of the American part of the city, who lived west of Canal Street. They were mostly newly freed slaves, uneducated and lacking any economic and cultural advantage, but experienced in gospel and work songs and very skilful in learning music by ear and improvising.

In 1894 a segregation law forced Creoles to move on the other side of Canal Street and forced to live in an environment very different from the one they came from. This certainly proved to be an ordeal for all parties involved, but there finally came a balance. As the Creoles merged into the cultural fabric of that part of the city, they brought to it their history, culture and education. It is likely that they were the actual cultural enactors of that mix of African American and European musical culture that would later allowed the birth of jazz.

 

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RESOURCES

Ogren, Kathy J., The Jazz Revolution. Twenties America and the Meaning of Jazz. Oxford University Press, New York, 1989

YouTube – A visit to Storyville, New Orleans’ most famous red light district
S
toryville Disctrict – All that jazz
Red Hot Jazz – The origin of jazz
National Park Cervice – A New Orleans Jazz History 1895-1927
About Entertainment – What is early jazz
Jazz – Chapter 4 (outline)
UCLA Universtity – Blue Horizon: Creaole culture and early New Orleans jazz
History – New Orleans

 

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About the Author

jazzfeathers
I was born, raised and I still live near Verona (Italy), though I worked for a time in Dublin. I started writing fantasy stories as a kid. Today I’m a bookseller who reads fantasy, history, mythology, anthropology and lots of speculative fiction. Somehow, all of this has found its way into my own dieselpunk stories.

27 Comments on "New Orleans (AtoZ Challenge 2016 – Jazz Age Jazz)"

  1. I’m glad N is New Orleans, would be very upset if it was something else

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit
    @leprchaunrabbit
    https://yourrootsareshowingdearie.wordpress.com/

  2. Isn’t old documentary footage great? Loved seeing the enormous verandahs (so high) on that last hotel.
    Alex Daw recently posted…N is for Newspapers (and Navy Records Society and Nancy Dawson)My Profile

  3. NOLA is one of my favorite places on the planet. Despite the adversity and the reputation for being a rough place, the talent of the musicians draws me there. From the darkest clubs on Frenchman to the musicians that play on street corners, I could wander around for days taking it all in.

  4. I did not know this about the Creole people! And wouldn’t you just love to live in a place called Storyville? Sounds like a great name for a town of writers 🙂

  5. I’m another lover of NOLA! What a great video!!! Thanks so much for that.

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    Kathleen Valentine recently posted…N is for Nat: Blogging the #AtoZchallengeMy Profile

  6. Luv the fashionable hats of the 20s. One of my fondest memories of visiting New Orleans over the years is having the pleasure of hearing the Preservation Hall band play from the heart.

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
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    Gail M Baugniet recently posted…N is for NOSE KNOWS WHAT TONGUE TASTESMy Profile

  7. I’ve been to New Orleans twice and there’s really no other place in the United States like it. The culture, the food, the sounds are are truly unique

    • I’ve never been there. But I friend of mine went for a day during her tour of Southern US. She said it’s a very peculiar, interesting city.
      I hope one day I’ll be able to visit too 🙂

  8. New Orleans is by far my favorite city in the USA. I have been there twice (once for storytelling and once for a conference), but I would like to visit again, and spend more time… 🙂

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

  9. I have never visited New Orleans, although it is on my bucket list. I love the connection to French ancestry (of course).

    I knew of creole cooking, but I had no knowledge of the history of the people. As always, I learn something knew when I visit your blog. Your research is impeccable!
    Molly recently posted…Sunday Salon: April 17, 2016My Profile

  10. I love New Orleans and I’m going back to visit for the second time in just a couple months! I need to keep some of this history in mind and check it out…if I can drag myself out of the French Quarter!
    Megan Morgan recently posted…N – NamesMy Profile

    • I love going visiting cities and know the history of the places. It makes visiting so much meaningful and it gives such fantastic memories afterward.

  11. Jo-Ann Carson | 17th April 2016 at 11:43 pm |

    Awesome post. You explain it so well. Thanks for sharing.
    Best Wishes
    Jo-Ann

  12. I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans. There is so much history in that area.
    Cynthia recently posted…O: Joyce Carol Oates & FOXFIREMy Profile

  13. Ah, so that’s why the James Spader movie is called Storyville – because it’s all about the red light (I keep meaning to watch it, but have never got round to it :)). New Orleans sounds like a huge mixing pot, no wonder it produced interesting things.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)
    Tasha recently posted…P – Pam Ashbury & Pocong – Fictional Phantoms #AtoZChallenge 2016My Profile

  14. Hey, now I want to see that film too 🙂

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