Snippets from New Orleans History

The Impression of Dixieland Jazz on New Orleans

Dixieland Jazz Music, also known as New Orleans Jazz or “Hot” and “Early” jazz was saw its beginnings in the 1910s. Hot Jazz was fitting for the New Orleans music; because of its ever changing beats and unpredictable nature, Jazz in New Orleans is hotter than a boiling pot of rice. Not too long after its energetic entrance into the music world, Dixieland Jazz spread from New Orleans to Chicago and New York City and remains one of the highlights of New Orleans culture.

Dixieland is a name given to the style of jazz performed by early New Orleans jazz musicians, in reference to the “Old South.” But the music’s style is everything but old.

The Dixieland style combines earlier brass band compositions, French Quadrilles, biguine, ragtime tunes and blues numbers with collective, polyphonic improvisation—it’s a team effort that ebbs and flows from one solo and accompaniment to another. Every number is unique to the players, the venue, the drinks and the mood. It’s a hodgepodge of energy and you can’t help but dance along without a care in the world.

While instrumentation and size of bands can be very flexible, the “standard” band consists of trumpets/cornets, trombones, clarinets with a “rhythm section” of at least a guitar or banjo, string bass or tuba, piano and drums to tie it all together. Some bands mix and match, and others just go with the flow.

What are the Key Players in a New Orleans Dixieland Jazz Band?

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Upright Base for the Beat

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Clarinet to Keep it Smooth

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Drums for the Needed Surprise

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Guitar for Your Heart

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Piano for Your Mind

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Saxophone for the Sad Past

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Trombone for Longing

History of Dixieland Jazz New Orleans

Trumpet for Strength

The definitive Dixieland sound is created when one instrument—usually the trumpet—plays the beginnings of a variation of a recognizable melody or tune, and the other band members follow the leader and improvise around that melody. This creates an organic and multidimensional sound that speaks to several emotions and states of mind and time. Instead of the extremely regimented big bands of the time, Dixieland Jazz began the movement towards the music of the heart and soul in the South.

It’s hard to define Jazz music because of it’s versatility. By locals, it is a state of mind—one that you either understand or don’t.

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