The music called Jazz was born sometime around 1895
in New Orleans. It combined elements of Ragtime, marching band music and Blues.
What differentiated Jazz from these earlier styles was the widespread use of
improvisation, often by more than one player at a time. Jazz represented a break
from Western musical traditions, where the composer wrote a piece of music on
paper and the musicians then tried their best to play exactly what was in the
score. In a Jazz piece, the song is often just a starting point or frame of
reference for the musicians to improvise around. The song might have been a
popular ditty or blues that they didn't compose, but by the time they were
finished with it they had composed a new piece that often bore little
resemblance to the original song. Many of these virtuoso musicians were not good
sight readers and some could not read music at all, nevertheless their playing
thrilled audiences and the spontaneous music they created captured a joy and
sense of adventure that was an exciting and radical departure from the music of
that time. The first Jazz was played by African-American and Creole musicians in
New Orleans. The cornet player, Buddy Bolden is generally considered to be the first real Jazz musician. Other early players included Freddie Keppard, Bunk Johnson and Clarence Williams.
Although these musicians names are unknown to most people, then and now, their
ideas are still being elaborated on to this day. Most of these men could not
make a living with their music and were forced to work menial jobs to get by.
The second wave of New Orleans Jazz musicians like Joe "King" Oliver, Kid Ory and Jelly Roll Morton
formed small bands that took the music of these older men and increased the
complexity and dynamic of their music, as well as gaining greater commercial
success. This music became known as "Hot Jazz", because of the often breakneck
speeds and amazing improvised polyphony that these bands produced. A young
virtuoso cornet player named Louis Armstrong was discovered in New Orleans by King Oliver. Armstrong soon grew to
become the greatest Jazz musician of his era and eventually one of the biggest
stars in the world. The impact of Armstrong and other Jazz musicians altered the course of both
popular and Classical music. African-American musical styles became the dominant
force in 20th century music.
The Red Hot Archive is a place to study and enjoy the music of these early "Jazzmen". Due to recent advances in technology it is now possible to broadcast text, music and pictures around the world via the Internet. This site is an experiment in using this new multimedia technology. We hope it will combine the best of books and audio recordings, into valuable and enjoyable tools for appreciating this music and the men and women who produced it. This site is a work in progress and will continue to grow as more recordings and writings are added to the archive. Submissions, suggestions and corrections are welcome.
Check out the Red Hot Jazz group if you are interested in talking about old jazz at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RedHotJazz
A very special thank you goes out to Annie Van Auken for proofreading the entire Red Hot Jazz Archive!