The jazz movement originated in the southern city of New Orleans in the 1890's. Jazz developed as African Americans combined the energy and rhythms of African music with the sound and instruments of the western world. This style was condemned at first as the Devil's music. However, it soon became more widely accepted and spread across the United States and the world.
Jazz has the power to dazzle audiences when played by such great performers as brass player Louis Armstrong and pianist Duke Ellington. Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday, and other great singers emerged, adding important elements to this style. Later, during the 1930's, a new style of jazz called "swing" began to develop thanks to dance band leaders such as Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. Even today, all jazz styles, from traditional to the most recent mixture of jazz and rock are popular.
Louis Armstrong took the jazz world by strom in the 1920's with his amazing trumpet skills. He was the first jazz soloist to gain prominence both in the United States and abroad. By featuring the soloist, he changed the format of jazz music. He extended the range of jazz improvisation and improvised not only with the music but with words as well. He was the first jazz musician to use scat singing in which rhythmic nonsense syllables were used instead of lyrics.
Glenn Miller led the top "swing" band in the 1930's. His hits like "In the Mood" helped bring jazz to a much broader and younger audience across the United States.
Bessie Smith was one of the earliest jazz singers. She is known as the "Empress of Blues" because she most often sang using the blues scale. This scale, which is completely unique to jazz and blues has a very mournful and expressive sound.
Thelonius Monk was a very influential pianist and helped jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker create "bebop." Bebop was fast and furious. Monk's 'Round Midnight' is one of the most recorded jazz tunes of all time.
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