A Journey Through the Evolution of Jazz Music

Life is a lot like jazz...it's best when you improvise.
— George Gershwin


April 11, 2023 | By Emily Aniston
Image:©The Deep Lounge Music orchestra was created by Merv de Peyer.Merv

The 1920s is often referred to as the "Jazz Age" because of the significant role that Jazz music played in shaping the cultural and social landscape of the era. The Jazz Age was characterized by a new sense of freedom and liberation in fashion, literature, and other arts, which mirrored the spirit of Jazz music.

Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra
© Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature

What is Jazz?

Jazz music was born in the African American communities of the southern United States. The genre originated from a blend of African rhythms and European harmonies and instrumentation. The earliest forms of Jazz were rooted in blues and ragtime, which eventually evolved into swing, bebop, cool jazz, and fusion.

Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane are some of the most influential Jazz artists in history. These musicians not only contributed to the evolution of Jazz but also helped break down racial barriers and promote social change.

© Bettmann, Getty Images

Styles and sub-genres of Jazz music

Each style and sub-genre of Jazz has its unique characteristics, instrumentation, and players. Swing was the dominant style during the 1930s and 1940s, with popular bands led by Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Glenn Miller. Bebop emerged in the 1940s as a response to the commercialization of Jazz, with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker exploring new harmonic and rhythmic possibilities. Cool jazz, which emerged in the 1950s, featured a more relaxed and laid-back sound, with Miles Davis and Chet Baker leading the charge. Fusion, which emerged in the late 1960s, blended Jazz with rock, funk, and electronic music.

Louis Cotton Club Band. © Photograph by Block Brothers Studio, ca. 1925. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections.

Jazz music and fashion

The fashion and music of the Jazz Age were closely intertwined. The energetic and liberating rhythms of Jazz music provided the perfect soundtrack for the fashion revolution of the era. Flappers danced the Charleston and other popular Jazz Age dances in their beaded dresses and feather boas, while Jazz musicians sported sharp suits and stylish accessories. Jazz Age fashion was also reflected in album covers and other promotional materials for Jazz music, with Jazz musicians often posing in the latest styles.

Jazz party ©april-mo on flickr


Jazzing it Up: How to Dress for a Night Out at the Jazz Club

As Herbie Hancock said, jazz is about being in the moment. Let‘s head out for a night of jazz music and dancing!

What To Wear To Taylor Swift Eras Tour?

“People haven't always been there for me but music always has.”― Taylor Swift

What Did People Wear in the 1920s?

Exploring the Fashion Trends of the Roaring Twenties.