All that jazz!

Since I'm calling this place a "Jazz Age Journal," I guess I can't go much further without saying a little bit about JAZZ, the background music for the whole decade of the 1920s!
Back in my day, jazz was highly controversial. Our parents weren't crazy to have us listening to it; they thought it encouraged wildness and decadence, which it probably did, with its catchy rhythms, peppy tunes and occasionally risque lyrics (not that we always understood what they meant--some of us were a little more sheltered in those days!). Jazz was also heavily associated with the gin mills and speakeasies, so the older folks would rather we'd just avoid it. But we youngsters thought it was simply the cat's pajamas! We just loved to get dolled up and make the floor shake. And how!

The term "Jazz Age" was coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, in the title of his book of short stories, Tales of the Jazz Age. He in turn took it from a style of music that was all the rage.

Jazz, a spicy stew of African and European styles of music, was birthed in the black communities of the Deep South and migrated up the Mississippi River to cities like St. Louis and Chicago, and on over to the East Coast, early in the 20th century. The music includes all kinds of influences, from African rhythms and call-and-response elements, to gospel hymns and spirituals, the blues, to marching bands and syncopated rhythms, to Creole and Latin American music, and loads of other stuff, I'm sure. Later (I'm told) jazz branched off into swing, be-bop, boogie-woogie, and rock-and-roll.

It's a little hard to define jazz, because there are many different styles, from ragtime to Dixieland to Cuban to some mysterious thing you twenty-first-century types call "techno-jazz." So it's probably better just to let you listen. The Charleston is a good example. Here's another sample of jazz from back in MY day, a song about my favorite town. Boop-boop-be-doop!

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