New Orleans, Chicago, New York: each of these cities played a pivotal role in the birth and development of uniquely American musical forms, in particular, jazz and blues. But what were the specific geographic and cultural features that positioned The Big Easy, The City of the Big Shoulders, and The Big Apple to play such a vital role in America’s musical development? Who were the legends and how did their work eventually become “classic?”
In the late-19th and early 20th centuries, New Orleans fostered one of America’s original art forms. Hailed as the birthplace of jazz, the city has since been associated with those considered jazz royalty, such as Buddy Bolden, Joe "King" Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, and Louis Armstrong, among others.
Chicago became a base for jazz musicians—Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke—some of whom migrated from New Orleans in the 1920s, as well as for blues artists—Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters—who migrated from the Mississippi Delta region in the mid-century.
New York City (Thomas "Fats" Waller, James P. Johnson, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday) is where bebop jazz—Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie "Bird" Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis—flourished in the 1940s and ‘50s. Gotham also was home to Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, a wellspring of popular standards that jazz musicians adopted for their repertoires.
From The Crescent City to the Second City to The City that Never Sleeps, this multi-sensory course celebrates America’s great jazz and blues cities and how they helped to shape select artists, their careers, and the history of American music.
Jenzi Silverman, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, received an associate's diploma in recorder recital from Trinity College, London. She teaches numerous music-related courses for educational programs throughout the Twin Cities.
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