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1910s

A Unique Genre is Recognised

During this decade, ‘jass’ or jazz became established as a musical genre. It drew on a rich variety of sources including ragtime, blues and popular songs – and was based largely on ‘improvisation’ rather than reading from a musical score.

New Orleans became the home of jazz thanks to a thriving community of musicians. The music was played at a wide variety of social functions such as dances, picnics, street events and even funerals, and quickly gained popularity across the USA. February 1917 saw the release of what is believed to be the first jazz record, ‘Dixie Jass Band One Step/Livery Stable Blues’. It was recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, who arrived in London in 1919 along with the Southern Syncopated Orchestra. These bands inspired a community of musicians and fans in Britain and helped launch our own ‘jazz age’.

Image: Original Dixieland Jazz Band programme from The Palladium, Argyll Street, London, 1919. National Jazz Archive.

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