Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

10

Top 10 Moments in Jazz History

Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius By

Sign in to view read count

4.

Home canning enthusiasts and musicians Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker found themselves in the awkward position of having more fresh blackberries than they knew what to do with one summer in the mid-40s, so they invited several of their musician friends over to help put them up in what they called a 'jam session.' It was originally called a 'jelly' session, but the name was changed to avoid any anticipated interference by Jelly Roll Morton (Morton had died in 1941, but news traveled slowly in those days). Musicians being musicians, they all brought their instruments with them and played together while waiting for the preserves to cook down. As word got out about these sessions, more and more musicians wanted to take part. Unfortunately, not all of them were of the same skill level and hindered the other more talented cooks and musicians. Gillespie and Parker began subtly ramping up the difficulty of both the jams and the improvised music to weed out the lesser sorts. They introduced complex, multi-fruit marmalades to the jam part and blistering multi-note runs with breakneck chord changes to the session part. Thus was born BeBop (the music, not the preserves. They were marketed in the Great New York metropolitan area as Bird and Diz's Jazz Jam and remained popular until the brand was bought out by Smucker's in 1985 and discontinued out of spite).

3.

A brash young trumpeter from New Orleans (and possessor of the world's roundest head), Wynton Marsalis won a Grammy for his second album Think of One in 1983. In doing so, some writers (me, mostly) have argued that he represented a new era of popularity for traditional acoustic Jazz, which had largely lain fallow throughout the Fusion-soaked 70s (see above, in case you've forgotten it already). Marsalis would go on to become the de facto spokesman for Our Music, as well as the artistic director of the Jazz and Lincoln Center program and judge emeritus of the Pillsbury Bake-Off (he is known for his delightful blackberry popovers).

It could be argued (again, by me) that Marsalis's rise to prominence, coupled with the 1981 premiere of MTV which placed style over substance on a grand scale, drove many young Gen Xers to Our Music as they sought refuge from overhyped and undertalented pop stars who substituted dancing around in their underwear for musical ability. I'm looking at you, Madonna.

2.

Cornet player and band leader Joe "King" Oliver moves from New Orleans to the bustling metropolis of Chicago in 1917, introducing Jazz to people outside of the Southeast for the first time. Our Music is an immediate hit and brings musicians from far and wide to the Windy City, including a young Louis Armstrong to whom Oliver was both mentor and friend. Oliver's influence on the development of Jazz cannot be overstated, even by a writer who once won an extremely prestigious award for overstatement.

Oliver would further cement his legacy when, in 1922, his Creole Jazz Band (with Pops at fullback and Lil Hardin Armstrong at center) defeated the all-white Original Dixieland Jass Band 21-17 in a match to decide the correct spelling of the word Jazz.

1.

While working on a prototype for a human cyborg to replace stevedores, who he blamed for crushing his favorite hat when he immigrated to America in 1884, Nikola Tesla invented Buddy Bolden during his brief time in New Orleans out of parts of other deceased musicians and pieces of an early Edison phonograph. When he applied his then-novel alternating current to the creation, perhaps inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (but more likely because people were using electricity for everything in those days from lighting to dental care), he overestimated the amount of voltage necessary to animate him and left Bolden with an exaggerated sense of swing.

Though Tesla would abandon the project, in favor of an attempt to create an animatronic Nellie Melba (a popular Australian opera singer of the day, for whom peach Melba is named) for his own personal use, the Bolden-tron would pick up the cornet and become widely influential. Unfortunately, the automaton suffered from lack of maintenance and in 1907 was committed to a mental institution for insisting that he was an android which was crazy-talk in those days, as Hillary Clinton would not be invented for another 40 years. The Buddy-bot would cease functioning completely in 1931. Does this mean that Tesla could technically be credited with inventing Jazz? Why the hell not? He invented virtually everything else for which he receives minimal credit.

Till next time, kids, exit to your right and enjoy the rest of AAJ.

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Genius Guide to Jazz
Call Me the Breeze: Dave Douglas and Donny McCaslin Play Lynyrd Skynyrd
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
April 1, 2019
Genius Guide to Jazz
My Guitar
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
January 2, 2019
Genius Guide to Jazz
Jazz in 1's and 0's
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
December 30, 2018
Genius Guide to Jazz
2018 Gift Guide
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
November 23, 2018
Genius Guide to Jazz
Top 10 Moments in Jazz History
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
November 12, 2018
Genius Guide to Jazz
Rising Stars: Wondrous Woman
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
September 18, 2018
Genius Guide to Jazz
A Day at AAJ
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
April 12, 2018