Jazz is a genre of music that originated in the African American communities of New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its roots can be traced back to blues, ragtime, and brass band music, as well as European classical music. The precise origins of jazz are difficult to determine, and there is no single person who can be credited with inventing the genre.
Jelly Roll Morton, a New Orleans-based pianist and composer, is often credited with being the first person to call himself the “inventor of jazz.” However, this claim is not supported by historical evidence. While Morton was an important figure in the development of jazz and made significant contributions to the genre, he did not invent it.
Jazz developed organically out of a fusion of different musical styles and influences, and its early practitioners were primarily African American musicians who were working in the red-light districts of New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These musicians drew from a variety of musical traditions, including blues, ragtime, brass band music, and European classical music, to create a unique and innovative style of music that was characterized by improvisation, syncopated rhythms, and complex harmonies.
One of the earliest recorded examples of jazz is the “Original Dixieland Jazz Band” recording of “Livery Stable Blues” in 1917. This recording is widely considered to be the first jazz recording, and it marked the beginning of the recorded history of jazz.
Throughout the 20th century, jazz continued to evolve and expand, with new styles and sub-genres emerging, such as swing, bebop, hard bop, and fusion. While jazz has its roots in New Orleans, it quickly spread to other cities, such as Chicago and New York, and became a global phenomenon.
In conclusion, while Jelly Roll Morton is an important figure in the history of jazz, it is not accurate to say that he invented the genre. Jazz is the result of a fusion of different musical styles and influences, and its origins can be traced back to the African American communities of New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The precise origins of jazz are difficult to determine, and there is no single person who can be credited with inventing the genre.
Source: “Jazz: A History of America’s Music” by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns.