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African American Heritage Week: All That Jazz

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  • Tip Bones

Some of the better known African American artists that I (and many others) could name dedicate their work to the genre of jazz music. Why is jazz important to American history? Where did it come from? As usual, we can thank the black community for this uniquely American treasure.

Jazz music is based in the traditions of ragtime and blues, taking influence from the brass of marching and military music. But unlike most genres, jazz is characterized by its improvisational technique. This was especially true of the 1950s, when 'free jazz' became popular.

Realistically, jazz came, like many African American traditions, from the colonial American slave culture. The slave songs and improvised instruments (washboards, makeshift stringed instruments, etc.) evolved over time and after the 13th Amendment to become free traditions, indicative of the history of the struggle and victory against segregation, and a reminder of how cultural fixtures like jazz can carry a whole group through a difficult time.

And, rightly so, the world appreciates the art.

Photo: Pixabay