jazz musicians
top 100 jazz songs
and history of jazz

Top 100 Jazz Songs of All Time
ranked by popular vote
with music videos so you can listen to each song

    The rankings (see below) of jazz songs are by listens from the public. So, the order is different than the critics would prefer, but much more democratic.
    Every time you listen to your favorite jazz songs, you cast a vote for your favorites.

    History of jazz follows the list of most popular jazz songs.

jazz (jăz)
n.
1. Music
a. A style of music, of African-American origin native to the United States (originating in New Orleans around the beginning of the 20th century), characterized by a strong but flexible rhythmic understructure (typically using syncopated thythms) with solo and ensemble improvisations on basic tunes and chord patterns using a variety of harmonic idioms (ranging from simple diatonicism through chromaticism to atonality) and instrumental techniques, intricate, propulsive thythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, virtuosic solos, melodic freedom, and, more recently, a highly sophisticated harmonic idiom.

b. Big Band jazz. Dance music, popular especially in the 1920s and 1930s, arranged for a big band and marked by some of the features of jazz.

v.
1. Play or dance to jazz music.

2. To speed or liven up.

synonyms
jive
[Origin]
1913 for the musical artform, from 1912 baseball slang, from Creole patois jass, meaning “sexual activity” or Congo dances, from 1860 jasm “energy, drive”, from Africa, Madingo jasi and Temne yas, also the source of the word jism.
    bebop an early form of modern jazz originating around 1940
    big band a style of dance music popular in the 1920s, similar to New Orleans jazz but played by large bands
    boogie-woogie an instrumental version of the blues, especially for piano
    cool jazz jazz that is restrained and fluid, marked by intricate harmonic structures often lagging slightly behind the beat; a slow style of bebop featuring chords
    funk an earthy style of jazz combining with blues and soul with a heavy bass line that accentuates the first beat in the bar
    hard bop a jazz bebop style with elaborate arrangements
    hot jazz jazz that is emotionally charged and intense, marked by strong rhthms and improvisation
    modal jazz jazz making use of the modes: Ionian (Major scale), Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (natural minor scale), and Locrain (diminished)
    modern jazz any of the various stles of jazz that appeared after 1940
    scat improvising syllables for the words of a song and singing in the style of a musicial instrument
    swing (jive) a style of jazz played by big bands popular in the 1930s, flowing thythms but less complex than later styles of jazz
    third stream the combination of classical and jazz
    trad traditional jazz as revived in the 1950s

    History of jazz follows the list of most popular jazz songs.

    listening Novices can learn about jazz by using the jazz randomizer channel. You can keep clicking up new random jazz songs.

jazz musicians

jazz websites


history of jazz


most popular jazz songs
by popular vote

both of these links are on this page
 

playing popular jazz

    Jazz project: I propose the public performance of jazz pops, similar to the idea of classical pops, where classical orchestras played popular songs with the full power and glory of a symphony prchestra. In this case, I propose performing pop songs in the full glory and power of jazz.

    This is something that jazz musicians all over the world can do locally. Mix in some important jazz covers and your own original jazz compositions. Mix and match musicians from different jazz groups.

    I will provide space on this website to promote local efforts in this project.

    Jazz project for musicians all over the world. This website will support and publicize those participating in this effort no matter where you do this in the world.

    Salon had an excellent article about how aging songs are killing jazz and that the continued survival of jazz as a living artform requires converting popular songs of the day into serious jazz, the exact same source of many of those aging songs of the American songbook.

    The article also warns of the many lame attempts. We want to avoid lame.

    I am asking for jazz musicians (or even players from other genres who have an interest in jazz) to contact me if you want to attempt to do exactly this in the influential southern California/Hollywood/Los Angeles/Orange County area.

    I am also seeking musicians who want to organize a similar project in other major cities around the world. We can arrange for you to share the publicity power of this website. You should be able to upload videos of your performances.

    I am open to already existing bands of any musical genre who want to dabble in jazz by arranging for a dual booked-show where some or all of the members of your band play with jazz musicians, followed by your regular band performing your regular set.

    While we want the participating musicians to express themselves and help choose appropriate music, those intereted in participating should be able to play the first few top jazz songs on this page’s chart, as well as have jazz ideas for at least some of the songs at the top of the overall popular music chart.

    I can be reached by emailing at an email address that I am attempting to disguise from spambots. The first part of the email is the name of the desktop machine. The second part of the email is my name, which might be listed nearby. The part after the at sign is the name of Google’s email service. If you can’t figure out the email from those clues, then watch for shows and approach us during a break.

—Milo

 
(both of these links are on this same page)

history of jazz


most popular jazz songs
by popular vote

 

local jazz societies
support local jazz!!!


listen to jazz music


Google

ThisSideofSanity.com now has 225 jazz songs


“(They call me) Dr. Professor Longhair” by Professor Longhair [play song]
“’Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
“500 Miles High” by Chick Corea’s Return to Forever [play song]
“A Long Drink of the Blues” by Jackie McLean [play song]
“A Night In Tunisia” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
“A Night In Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie [play song]
“A Remark You Made” by Weather Report [play song]
“A-Tisket, A-Tasket” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
“Acknowledgement” by John Coltrane [play song]
“Aerial Boundaries” by Michael Hedges [play song]
“All Blues” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Alone Together” by Grant Green [play song]
“Along Came Betty” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
“Anonymous Skulls” by Medeski, Martin & Wood [play song]
“At Last” by Etta James [play song]
“Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday [play song]
“Autumn Leaves” by Cannonball Adderley featuring Miles Davis [play song]
“Baby Elephant Walk” by This Side of Sanity [play song]
“Back at the Chicken Shack” by Jimmy Smith [play song]
“Basin Street Blues” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
“Bemsha Swing” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
“Big Chief” by Professor Longhair [play song]
“Birdland” by Weather Report [play song]
“Birdland (live)” by Weather Report [play song]
“Bitches Brew (official video)” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Black Bottom Stomp” by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers [play song]
“Black Coffee” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
“Black Satin” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Blend Part 1” by Sandy Bull [play song]
“Blend part 2” by Sandy Bull [play song]
“Blue in Green” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Blue Monk” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
“Blue Train” by John Coltrane [play song]
“Body and Soul” by Coleman Hawkins Orchestra [play song]
“Body and Soul (official video)” by Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse [play song]
“Bone Yard Parade” by This Side of Sanity [play song]
“Breakfast Feud” by Charlie Christian [play song]
“Bright Size Life” by Pat Metheny [play song]
“Bumpin’ on Sunset” by Wes Montgomery [play song]
“Candyman (official video)” by Christina Aguilera [play song]
“Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
“Captain Fingers” by Lee Ritenour [play song]
“Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” by Jeff Beck [play song]
“Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters [play song]
“Chasin’ the Bird” by Charlie Parker [play song]
“Chasing Pirates (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
“Chitlins Con Carne” by Kenny Burrell [play song]
“Compared To What” by Les McCann [play song]
“Creole Love Call” by Duke Ellington Featuring Adelaide Hall [play song]
“Desafinado” by Stan Getz & João Gilberto [play song]
“Dolphin Dance” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
“Don’t Give Up” by Herbie Hancock Featuring P!nk and John Legend [play song]
“Don’t Know Why (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
“Don’t Worry Be Happy (official video)” by Bobby McFerrin [play song]
“Englishman In New York (official video)” by Sting [play song]
“Epistrophy” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
“Eternal Child (official video)” by Chick Corea’s Elektric Band [play song]
“Fables of Faubus” by Charles Mingus [play song]
“Feeling Good” by Nina Simone [play song]
“Fever” by Peggy Lee [play song]
“Five Hundred Miles High” by Stan Getz [play song]
“Flamenco Sketches” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Freddie Freeloader” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Free For All” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
“Gemini” by Mary Lou Williams [play song]
“Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles [play song]
“Giant Steps” by John Coltrane [play song]
“Giant Steps” by Tommy Flanagan Trio [play song]
“Giriras Sudha” by Remember Shakti [play song]
“God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday [play song]
“Good Morning Heartache” by Billie Holiday [play song]
“Good Morning Heartache (live)” by Billie Holiday [play song]
“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” by Charles Mingus [play song]
“Hamp’s Hump” by Galactic [play song]
“Happy Pills (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
“Harlem Rag” by Tom Turpin [play song]
“Hello, Dolly (live)” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
“Here We Go Again” by Ray Charles and Norah Jones [play song]
“Hog Callin’ Blues” by Charles Mingus [play song]
“How High the Moon” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
“Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (live)” by Return to Forever [play song]
“I Loves You Porgy” by Nina Simone [play song]
“I Put A Spell On You” by Nina Simone [play song]
“I Remember Clifford” by the Lee Morgan Sextet [play song]
“Icarus” by Paul Winter Consort [play song]
“Idle Moments” by Grant Green [play song]
“In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane [play song]
“In a Silent Way” by Miles Davis [play song]
“In N’ Out” by Joe Henderson [play song]
“In The Mood” by Glenn Miller [play song]
“It Don’t Mean a Thing” by Duke Ellington [play song]
“It Might as Well be Spring” by Sarah Vaughan [play song]
“Jelly Roll Blues” by Jelly Roll Morton [play song]
“Journey” by Ali Akbar Khan [play song]
“Joy” by Shakti featuring John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain [play song]
“Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. featuring Bill Withers [play song]
“Ko-Ko” by Charlie Parker [play song]
“L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole [play song]
“La Pas Ma La” by Ernest Hogan [play song]
“Lazy River” by Pete Fountain [play song]
“Livery Stable Blues” by Original Dixieland Jass Band [play song]
“Lonely Woman” by Ornette Coleman [play song]
“Lullaby” by Ali Akbar Khan [play song]
“Lush Life” by Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane [play song]
“Ma No Pa (official video - live)” by Remember Shakti Featuring John McLaughlin [play song]
“Mack The Knife” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
“Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin [play song]
“Maiden Voyage” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
“Maiden Voyage (live)” by Herbie Hancock Quartet [play song]
“Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie [play song]
“Manteca (live 1982)” by Dizzy Gillespie’s Dream Band [play song]
“Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin [play song]
“Maybe Tomorrow” by Lee Ritenour [play song]
“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Cannonball Adderley [play song]
“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Cannonball Adderley Quintet [play song]
“Miles Beyond” by Mahavishnu Orchestra [play song]
“Milestones” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway [play song]
“Mister Magic” by Grover Washington, Jr. [play song]
“Misterioso” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
“Moanin’” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
“Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington [play song]
“Moon River” by Henry Mancini [play song]
“Moon Tune” by Bob James and David Sanborn [play song]
“Moritat” by Sonny Rollins Quartet [play song]
“Mr. P.C.” by John Coltrane [play song]
“My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane [play song]
“My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now” by Dirty Dozen Brass Band [play song]
“My Funny Valentine” by Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker [play song]
“Naguine” by Django Reinhardt [play song]
“Naima (live)” by John Coltrane Quartet [play song]
“Night in Tunisia” by Sonny Rollins [play song]
“Nuages” by Django Reinhardt [play song]
“Ojos Criollos (Danse Cubaine)” by Louis Moreau Gottschalk [play song]
“One O’Clock Jump” by Count Basie [play song]
“Out of the Night” by Brian Melvin Trio [play song]
“Peter Gunn Theme” by Henry Mancini [play song]
“Peter Gunn Theme” by Blues Brothers [play song]
“Pharaoh’s Dance (part 1)” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Pharaoh’s Dance (part 2)” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Pharaoh’s Dance (part 3)” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Places and Spaces” by Donald Byrd [play song]
“Poinciana” by Ahmad Jamal [play song]
“Portrait of Tracy” by Jaco Pastorious [play song]
“Potato Head Blues” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
“Psalm” by John Coltrane [play song]
“Pursuance” by John Coltrane [play song]
“Race with Devil on Spanish Highway” by Al DiMeola [play song]
“Raga Anandi Kalyan” by Ravi & Anoushka Shankar [play song]
“Red Clay” by Freddie Hubbard [play song]
“Resolution” by John Coltrane [play song]
“Right Off Part 1” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Rocket Number Nine Take off for the Planet Venus” by Sun Ra and his Arkestra [play song]
“Rockit (official video)” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
“Rondo A La Turk” by Dave Brubeck [play song]
“Room 335” by Larry Carlton [play song]
“Ruby My Dear” by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane [play song]
“Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie [play song]
“Satin Doll” by Duke Ellington [play song]
“School Days” by Stanley Clarke [play song]
“Science Funktion” by Donald Byrd [play song]
“Scorpio” by Mary Lou Williams [play song]
“See See Rider” by Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Jazz Band [play song]
“She Walks Right In” by Professor Longhair [play song]
“Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” by Benny Goodman [play song]
“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” by Miles Davis [play song]
“So What (official video)” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Someday My Prince Will Come” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Someone to Watch Over Me” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
“Son of Mr. Green Genes” by Frank Zappa [play song]
“Song For My Father” by Horace Silver [play song]
“Spain” by Chick Corea & Return To Forever [play song]
“Spain (live)” by Chick Corea Electric Band [play song]
“Spanish Key” by Miles Davis [play song]
“Speak No Evil” by Wayne Shorter [play song]
“St Louis Blues” by Bessie Smith [play song]
“St. Louis Blues” by W.C. Handy [play song]
“St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong featuring Velma Middleton [play song]
“St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins [play song]
“Stolen Moments” by Oliver Nelson [play song]
“Stone Flower” by Antonio Carlos Jobim [play song]
“Straight Life” by Freddy Hubbard [play song]
“Straight, No Chaser” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday [play song]
“Strange Fruit (live)” by Billie Holiday [play song]
“Stratus” by Billy Cobham [play song]
“Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) (official video)” by David Bowie [play song]
“Summertime” by Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell [play song]
“Sun Goddess” by Ramsey Lewis [play song]
“Sunrise (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
“Swanee” by Al Jolson [play song]
“Swingin’ On The Teagarden Gate” by Jack Teagarden & his Orchestra [play song]
“Tabla Duet” by Ustaad Zakir Hussain and Ustaad Allaha Rakha Khan [play song]
“Tabla Solo” by Remember Shakti [play song]
“Take Five” by Dave Brubeck [play song]
“Take The “A” Train” by Duke Ellington [play song]
“Tea for Two” by Art Tatum [play song]
“The Creator has a Master Plan (part 1)” by Pharoah Sanders [play song]
“The Creator has a Master Plan (part 2)” by Pharoah Sanders [play song]
“The Creator has a Master Plan (part 3)” by Pharoah Sanders [play song]
“The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin [play song]
“The Girl From Ipanema (live)” by Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz [play song]
“The Hong Kong Incident” by Jing Chi [play song]
“The Lady In My Life” by George Benson [play song]
“The Man I Love” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
“The Perfect Man” by Sun Ra and his Arkestra [play song]
“The Pink Panther Theme” by Henry Mancini [play song]
“The Sidewinder” by Lee Morgan [play song]
“Thinking About You (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
“This Masquerade” by George Benson [play song]
“Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorious [play song]
“Tipitina” by Professor Longhair & The Meters [play song]
“Tones for Elvin Jones” by John McLaughlin [play song]
“Tumeni Notes” by Steve Morse [play song]
“Twisted” by Annie Ross, Jon Hendricks, and Dave Lambert [play song]
“Volunteered Slavery” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk [play song]
“Waltz For Debby” by Bill Evans [play song]
“Weather Bird” by Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines [play song]
“West End Blues” by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five [play song]
“West End Blues (live)” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
“What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
“When The Saints Go Marching In” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
“Willow Weep for Me” by Wes Montgomery [play song]
“You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker and Luciano Pavarotti [play song]
“You Know What I Mean” by Jeff Beck [play song]

ThisSideofSanity.com now has 225 jazz songs

#1 - 27057 votes for “Strange Fruit (live)” by Billie Holiday [play song]
#2 - 22831 votes for “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
#3 - 21135 votes for “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin [play song]
#4 - 20858 votes for “The Lady In My Life” by George Benson [play song]
#5 - 20288 votes for “Body and Soul (official video)” by Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse [play song]
#6 - 20078 votes for “West End Blues” by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five [play song]
#7 - 19396 votes for “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” by Charles Mingus [play song]
#8 - 18083 votes for “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington [play song]
#9 - 17402 votes for “This Masquerade” by George Benson [play song]
#10 - 17027 votes for “Rondo A La Turk” by Dave Brubeck [play song]
#11 - 16459 votes for “Naima (live)” by John Coltrane Quartet [play song]
#12 - 16358 votes for “’Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
#13 - 15815 votes for “Along Came Betty” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
#14 - 15684 votes for “Summertime” by Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell [play song]
#15 - 15157 votes for “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck [play song]
#16 - 13749 votes for “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin [play song]
#17 - 13585 votes for “Freddie Freeloader” by Miles Davis [play song]
#18 - 11194 votes for “Candyman (official video)” by Christina Aguilera [play song]
#19 - 10807 votes for “All Blues” by Miles Davis [play song]
#20 - 10606 votes for “So What (official video)” by Miles Davis [play song]
#21 - 10222 votes for “Bone Yard Parade” by This Side of Sanity [play song]
#22 - 9926 votes for “Blend part 2” by Sandy Bull [play song]
#23 - 9854 votes for “Swanee” by Al Jolson [play song]
#24 - 9792 votes for “Blend Part 1” by Sandy Bull [play song]
#25 - 9684 votes for “Bitches Brew (official video)” by Miles Davis [play song]
#26 - 9047 votes for “Don’t Know Why (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
#27 - 9027 votes for “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis [play song]
#28 - 8618 votes for “Ma No Pa (official video - live)” by Remember Shakti Featuring John McLaughlin [play song]
#29 - 8561 votes for “When The Saints Go Marching In” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
#30 - 8386 votes for “You Know What I Mean” by Jeff Beck [play song]
#31 - 8371 votes for “St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong featuring Velma Middleton [play song]
#32 - 7828 votes for “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin [play song]
#33 - 7747 votes for “Don’t Worry Be Happy (official video)” by Bobby McFerrin [play song]
#34 - 7677 votes for “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. featuring Bill Withers [play song]
#35 - 7658 votes for “Weather Bird” by Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines [play song]
#36 - 7472 votes for “Birdland” by Weather Report [play song]
#37 - 7419 votes for “Hello, Dolly (live)” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
#38 - 7276 votes for “Right Off Part 1” by Miles Davis [play song]
#39 - 7227 votes for “Moanin’” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
#40 - 7218 votes for “Basin Street Blues” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
#41 - 7188 votes for “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday [play song]
#42 - 7152 votes for “A Night In Tunisia” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
#43 - 7098 votes for “Autumn Leaves” by Cannonball Adderley featuring Miles Davis [play song]
#44 - 7066 votes for “Baby Elephant Walk” by This Side of Sanity [play song]
#45 - 7066 votes for “Pursuance” by John Coltrane [play song]
#46 - 7021 votes for “In a Silent Way” by Miles Davis [play song]
#47 - 6898 votes for “Black Satin” by Miles Davis [play song]
#48 - 6786 votes for “Flamenco Sketches” by Miles Davis [play song]
#49 - 6508 votes for “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” by Miles Davis [play song]
#50 - 6491 votes for “500 Miles High” by Chick Corea’s Return to Forever [play song]
#51 - 6417 votes for “Potato Head Blues” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
#52 - 6344 votes for “Spanish Key” by Miles Davis [play song]
#53 - 6309 votes for “Giant Steps” by Tommy Flanagan Trio [play song]
#54 - 6279 votes for “Someday My Prince Will Come” by Miles Davis [play song]
#55 - 6257 votes for “Room 335” by Larry Carlton [play song]
#56 - 6241 votes for “West End Blues (live)” by Louis Armstrong [play song]
#57 - 6135 votes for “Body and Soul” by Coleman Hawkins Orchestra [play song]
#58 - 6090 votes for “Free For All” by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers [play song]
#59 - 5549 votes for “One O’Clock Jump” by Count Basie [play song]
#60 - 5356 votes for “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles [play song]
#61 - 5248 votes for “St Louis Blues” by Bessie Smith [play song]
#62 - 4795 votes for “I Remember Clifford” by the Lee Morgan Sextet [play song]
#63 - 4769 votes for “My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane [play song]
#64 - 4547 votes for “How High the Moon” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
#65 - 4429 votes for “School Days” by Stanley Clarke [play song]
#66 - 4143 votes for “Bumpin’ on Sunset” by Wes Montgomery [play song]
#67 - 4049 votes for “St. Louis Blues” by W.C. Handy [play song]
#68 - 3659 votes for “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” by Jeff Beck [play song]
#69 - 3653 votes for “It Don’t Mean a Thing” by Duke Ellington [play song]
#70 - 3618 votes for “Bright Size Life” by Pat Metheny [play song]
#71 - 3560 votes for “Milestones” by Miles Davis [play song]
#72 - 3522 votes for “Mack The Knife” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
#73 - 3491 votes for “Pharaoh’s Dance (part 1)” by Miles Davis [play song]
#74 - 3475 votes for “Harlem Rag” by Tom Turpin [play song]
#75 - 3424 votes for “Joy” by Shakti featuring John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain [play song]
#76 - 3384 votes for “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole [play song]
#77 - 3380 votes for “Sunrise (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
#78 - 3352 votes for “Chasing Pirates (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
#79 - 3351 votes for “Ojos Criollos (Danse Cubaine)” by Louis Moreau Gottschalk [play song]
#80 - 3315 votes for “Pharaoh’s Dance (part 3)” by Miles Davis [play song]
#81 - 3295 votes for “Pharaoh’s Dance (part 2)” by Miles Davis [play song]
#82 - 3285 votes for “Tones for Elvin Jones” by John McLaughlin [play song]
#83 - 3268 votes for “Thinking About You (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
#84 - 3242 votes for “Mr. P.C.” by John Coltrane [play song]
#85 - 3204 votes for “Willow Weep for Me” by Wes Montgomery [play song]
#86 - 3183 votes for “Happy Pills (official video)” by Norah Jones [play song]
#87 - 2940 votes for “Aerial Boundaries” by Michael Hedges [play song]
#88 - 2863 votes for “Mister Magic” by Grover Washington, Jr. [play song]
#89 - 2847 votes for “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
#90 - 2703 votes for “Blue Monk” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
#91 - 2692 votes for “Englishman In New York (official video)” by Sting [play song]
#92 - 2600 votes for “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” by Benny Goodman [play song]
#93 - 2597 votes for “The Pink Panther Theme” by Henry Mancini [play song]
#94 - 2586 votes for “Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie [play song]
#95 - 2579 votes for “Chitlins Con Carne” by Kenny Burrell [play song]
#96 - 2542 votes for “Resolution” by John Coltrane [play song]
#97 - 2520 votes for “Satin Doll” by Duke Ellington [play song]
#98 - 2492 votes for “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane [play song]
#99 - 2485 votes for “Moon Tune” by Bob James and David Sanborn [play song]
#100 - 2475 votes for “Good Morning Heartache” by Billie Holiday [play song]
#101 - 2473 votes for “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Cannonball Adderley Quintet [play song]
#102 - 2455 votes for “Eternal Child (official video)” by Chick Corea’s Elektric Band [play song]
#103 - 2454 votes for “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker and Luciano Pavarotti [play song]
#104 - 2450 votes for “Don’t Give Up” by Herbie Hancock Featuring P!nk and John Legend [play song]
#105 - 2427 votes for “In The Mood” by Glenn Miller [play song]
#106 - 2421 votes for “Science Funktion” by Donald Byrd [play song]
#107 - 2409 votes for “Lonely Woman” by Ornette Coleman [play song]
#108 - 2404 votes for “Scorpio” by Mary Lou Williams [play song]
#109 - 2391 votes for “Epistrophy” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
#110 - 2365 votes for “Ko-Ko” by Charlie Parker [play song]
#111 - 2340 votes for “Take The “A” Train” by Duke Ellington [play song]
#112 - 2273 votes for “Here We Go Again” by Ray Charles and Norah Jones [play song]
#113 - 2271 votes for “The Man I Love” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
#114 - 2268 votes for “Waltz For Debby” by Bill Evans [play song]
#115 - 2267 votes for “Manteca (live 1982)” by Dizzy Gillespie’s Dream Band [play song]
#116 - 2259 votes for “Portrait of Tracy” by Jaco Pastorious [play song]
#117 - 2227 votes for “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins [play song]
#118 - 2220 votes for “Gemini” by Mary Lou Williams [play song]
#119 - 2175 votes for “Acknowledgement” by John Coltrane [play song]
#120 - 2154 votes for “(They call me) Dr. Professor Longhair” by Professor Longhair [play song]
#121 - 2147 votes for “The Girl From Ipanema (live)” by Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz [play song]
#122 - 2108 votes for “Creole Love Call” by Duke Ellington Featuring Adelaide Hall [play song]
#123 - 2084 votes for “See See Rider” by Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Jazz Band [play song]
#124 - 2077 votes for “I Put A Spell On You” by Nina Simone [play song]
#125 - 2076 votes for “Swingin’ On The Teagarden Gate” by Jack Teagarden & his Orchestra [play song]
#126 - 2067 votes for “Volunteered Slavery” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk [play song]
#127 - 2039 votes for “Black Bottom Stomp” by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers [play song]
#128 - 1886 votes for “Cantaloupe Island” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
#129 - 1869 votes for “A Remark You Made” by Weather Report [play song]
#130 - 1838 votes for “Compared To What” by Les McCann [play song]
#131 - 1825 votes for “Back at the Chicken Shack” by Jimmy Smith [play song]
#132 - 1805 votes for “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie [play song]
#133 - 1795 votes for “Peter Gunn Theme” by Henry Mancini [play song]
#134 - 1788 votes for “Black Coffee” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
#135 - 1778 votes for “Psalm” by John Coltrane [play song]
#136 - 1770 votes for “Bemsha Swing” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
#137 - 1756 votes for “Fever” by Peggy Lee [play song]
#138 - 1747 votes for “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters [play song]
#139 - 1716 votes for “Moon River” by Henry Mancini [play song]
#140 - 1708 votes for “I Loves You Porgy” by Nina Simone [play song]
#141 - 1705 votes for “Dolphin Dance” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
#142 - 1698 votes for “A Night In Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie [play song]
#143 - 1677 votes for “Speak No Evil” by Wayne Shorter [play song]
#144 - 1674 votes for “In N’ Out” by Joe Henderson [play song]
#145 - 1664 votes for “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday [play song]
#146 - 1644 votes for “Icarus” by Paul Winter Consort [play song]
#147 - 1631 votes for “Alone Together” by Grant Green [play song]
#148 - 1624 votes for “At Last” by Etta James [play song]
#149 - 1608 votes for “Birdland (live)” by Weather Report [play song]
#150 - 1597 votes for “Night in Tunisia” by Sonny Rollins [play song]
#151 - 1593 votes for “Poinciana” by Ahmad Jamal [play song]
#152 - 1592 votes for “Fables of Faubus” by Charles Mingus [play song]
#153 - 1591 votes for “Chasin’ the Bird” by Charlie Parker [play song]
#154 - 1586 votes for “Captain Fingers” by Lee Ritenour [play song]
#155 - 1573 votes for “Naguine” by Django Reinhardt [play song]
#156 - 1566 votes for “A Long Drink of the Blues” by Jackie McLean [play song]
#157 - 1564 votes for “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday [play song]
#158 - 1552 votes for “Breakfast Feud” by Charlie Christian [play song]
#159 - 1546 votes for “It Might as Well be Spring” by Sarah Vaughan [play song]
#160 - 1539 votes for “Good Morning Heartache (live)” by Billie Holiday [play song]
#161 - 1533 votes for “Spain” by Chick Corea & Return To Forever [play song]
#162 - 1531 votes for “Red Clay” by Freddie Hubbard [play song]
#163 - 1522 votes for “The Creator has a Master Plan (part 3)” by Pharoah Sanders [play song]
#164 - 1518 votes for “Blue Train” by John Coltrane [play song]
#165 - 1510 votes for “Race with Devil on Spanish Highway” by Al DiMeola [play song]
#166 - 1507 votes for “Peter Gunn Theme” by Blues Brothers [play song]
#167 - 1501 votes for “Desafinado” by Stan Getz & João Gilberto [play song]
#168 - 1498 votes for “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Cannonball Adderley [play song]
#169 - 1498 votes for “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone [play song]
#170 - 1491 votes for “Five Hundred Miles High” by Stan Getz [play song]
#171 - 1490 votes for “In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane [play song]
#172 - 1485 votes for “Straight Life” by Freddy Hubbard [play song]
#173 - 1483 votes for “Tipitina” by Professor Longhair & The Meters [play song]
#174 - 1474 votes for “Straight, No Chaser” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
#175 - 1470 votes for “Idle Moments” by Grant Green [play song]
#176 - 1466 votes for “Big Chief” by Professor Longhair [play song]
#177 - 1446 votes for “Hog Callin’ Blues” by Charles Mingus [play song]
#178 - 1446 votes for “La Pas Ma La” by Ernest Hogan [play song]
#179 - 1438 votes for “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now” by Dirty Dozen Brass Band [play song]
#180 - 1436 votes for “The Creator has a Master Plan (part 1)” by Pharoah Sanders [play song]
#181 - 1433 votes for “Anonymous Skulls” by Medeski, Martin & Wood [play song]
#182 - 1432 votes for “Tea for Two” by Art Tatum [play song]
#183 - 1431 votes for “Hamp’s Hump” by Galactic [play song]
#184 - 1425 votes for “The Creator has a Master Plan (part 2)” by Pharoah Sanders [play song]
#185 - 1422 votes for “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway [play song]
#186 - 1416 votes for “Spain (live)” by Chick Corea Electric Band [play song]
#187 - 1415 votes for “Rocket Number Nine Take off for the Planet Venus” by Sun Ra and his Arkestra [play song]
#188 - 1414 votes for “Twisted” by Annie Ross, Jon Hendricks, and Dave Lambert [play song]
#189 - 1401 votes for “Maiden Voyage (live)” by Herbie Hancock Quartet [play song]
#190 - 1396 votes for “Jelly Roll Blues” by Jelly Roll Morton [play song]
#191 - 1393 votes for “Giriras Sudha” by Remember Shakti [play song]
#192 - 1391 votes for “Moritat” by Sonny Rollins Quartet [play song]
#193 - 1390 votes for “Stolen Moments” by Oliver Nelson [play song]
#194 - 1385 votes for “Lush Life” by Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane [play song]
#195 - 1381 votes for “Tabla Solo” by Remember Shakti [play song]
#196 - 1375 votes for “Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorious [play song]
#197 - 1364 votes for “Lullaby” by Ali Akbar Khan [play song]
#198 - 1362 votes for “Stratus” by Billy Cobham [play song]
#199 - 1358 votes for “Out of the Night” by Brian Melvin Trio [play song]
#200 - 1357 votes for “My Funny Valentine” by Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker [play song]
#201 - 1357 votes for “Raga Anandi Kalyan” by Ravi & Anoushka Shankar [play song]
#202 - 1344 votes for “Stone Flower” by Antonio Carlos Jobim [play song]
#203 - 1333 votes for “Son of Mr. Green Genes” by Frank Zappa [play song]
#204 - 1324 votes for “Lazy River” by Pete Fountain [play song]
#205 - 1324 votes for “Nuages” by Django Reinhardt [play song]
#206 - 1323 votes for “Journey” by Ali Akbar Khan [play song]
#207 - 1321 votes for “Misterioso” by Thelonious Monk [play song]
#208 - 1317 votes for “The Hong Kong Incident” by Jing Chi [play song]
#209 - 1310 votes for “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (live)” by Return to Forever [play song]
#210 - 1304 votes for “Rockit (official video)” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
#211 - 1299 votes for “Miles Beyond” by Mahavishnu Orchestra [play song]
#212 - 1296 votes for “Livery Stable Blues” by Original Dixieland Jass Band [play song]
#213 - 1294 votes for “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver [play song]
#214 - 1294 votes for “Maybe Tomorrow” by Lee Ritenour [play song]
#215 - 1289 votes for “Someone to Watch Over Me” by Ella Fitzgerald [play song]
#216 - 1289 votes for “The Sidewinder” by Lee Morgan [play song]
#217 - 1275 votes for “Places and Spaces” by Donald Byrd [play song]
#218 - 1273 votes for “The Perfect Man” by Sun Ra and his Arkestra [play song]
#219 - 1265 votes for “Ruby My Dear” by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane [play song]
#220 - 1264 votes for “Maiden Voyage” by Herbie Hancock [play song]
#221 - 1259 votes for “Tumeni Notes” by Steve Morse [play song]
#222 - 1253 votes for “Tabla Duet” by Ustaad Zakir Hussain and Ustaad Allaha Rakha Khan [play song]
#223 - 1248 votes for “Sun Goddess” by Ramsey Lewis [play song]
#224 - 1248 votes for “She Walks Right In” by Professor Longhair [play song]
#225 - 1047 votes for “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) (official video)” by David Bowie [play song]

history of jazz

1800s roots

    The African roots of jazz are revealed by such things as blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and swing notes.

    The earliest jazz featured distinctly African-American rhythms. Tresillo was prominent in New Orleans second line music.

    By 1803 Cuban habanera sheet music was widely available in New Orleans. Musicians from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Havana, Cuba, regularly travelled on the twice daily ferry between the two cities. The habanera rhythm (also known as conho, tango-congo, or tango) was a combination of tresillo and the backbeat.

    John Storm Roberts stated that “habanera reached the U.S. twenty years before the first rag was published.”

play    An example of the influence of habanera is the piano piece “Ojos Criollos (Danse Cubaine)” by New Orleans native Louis Moreau Gottschalk from 1860.

    In 1817 the city of New Orleans designated Congo Square as a location where African slaves could sing and dance on Sunday afternoons. Many of the Black slaves were descendants from West Africa and the Congo River basin.

    Sundays when the slaves would meet — that was their free day — he beat out rhythms on the drums at the square — Congo Square they called it…

    An elderly black man sits astride a large cylindrical drum. Using his fingers and the edge of his hand, he jabs repeatedly at the drum head — which is around a foot in diameter and probably made from an animal skin — evoking a throbbing pulsation with rapid, sharp strokes. A second drummer, holding his instrument between his knees, joins in, playing with the same staccato attack. A third black man, seated on the ground, plucks at a string instrument, the body of which is roughly fashioned from a calabash. Another calabash has been made into a drum, and a woman beats at it with two short sticks.

The History of Jazz, by Ted Gioia, 1967, Oxford University Press New York

    In 1828 White minstrel Thomas “Daddy” Rice saw a crippled Black stable hand named Jim Crow performing a song and dance called “Jumping Jim Crow”. Rice purchased Crow’s clothing and prepared a blackface routine featuring the song and dance. Rice started a craze of blackface minstrelsy and was the source of the term “Jim Crow” laws.

    In 1866 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, reversing the 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, voiding most Black Codes, and officially making Blacks citizens of the United States. Two years later this law was replaced by the 14th Amendment.

    By the 18902 widespread Southern segregation and Jim Crow laws brought togeether the Creole (Franco-African) and Black (Anglo-African) populations of New Orleans, helping create jazz and blues from the combination of the two cultural musical heritages. The forces of segregation and Jim Crow pushed talented Black musicians to perform blues and jazz rather than some of the alternative music forms of the time.

    Even in the second half of the 20th century, Dr. John performed piano behind a curtain at the New Orleans’ Dew Drop Inn because of laws forbidding Blacks and Whites from performing on the same stage.

Ragtime: 1897 to 1918

    An important precursor to jazz was ragtime (also spelled rag-time or rag time) music. Ragtime emphasized musical syncopation, which was called a “ragged” rhythm. It began in the red-light districts of the African American communities in St. Louis, Missouri, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

    The first published ragtime tune was “Missis-sippi Rag”, written by White musician William Krell.

play    Tom Turpin, a former slave, wrote the ragtime tune “Harlem Rag” in 1892. When the piece was published in 1897, it was the first time an African-American had his or her music published.

    Ragtime was introduced to the world at the 1893 Worlds Fair in Chicago, Illinois.

play    Ernest Hogan was the key innovator and pioneer of ragtime, even inventing the term ragtime. Ernest Hogan wrote the first ragtime hit, “La Pas Ma La” in 1895.

play    The most famous ragtime composer was Scott Joplin, starting with the 1899 publication of “Maple Leaf Rag” and continuing through other ragtime hits.

    In July 1901 the American Federation of Musicians adopted a resolution to do everything in their power to suppress ragtime.

statement by an unnamed emergency president of the A.F.M.

    This does not mean that we are to play nothing but Beethoven’s symphonies to park Sunday crowds, but it does mean that we will substitute music of some real merit for ragtime trash, and show the people the difference. We don’t have to play classics to play good music. We intend to play popular airs instead of a senseless jumble of words and notes. The musicians know what is good, and it the people don’t, we will have to teach them.

    Why, some bands have almost forgotten how to play real music, and publishers won’t think of taking any compositions that are really meritorious. But just see how they snatch Ragtime Skedaddle, and other ridiculous and, in some cases, obscure songs.

    The ragtime craze has lowered the standard of American music as compared with other countries. We have a duty as well as business to look after, and we will not give way to a popular demand that is degrading.

play    The most famous example of ragtime is Scott Joplin’s 1902 “The Entertainer”.

    Jelly Roll Morton played both ragtime and jazz, including playing Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” in the styles of both Missouri ragtime and New Orleans jazz.

1900s: New Orleans
Dixieland Jazz

    Jazz came into existence in the whore houses of the notorious Storeyville red light district of New Orleans as entertainment for visiting sailors. This origin repeatedly haunts the reputation of jazz, especially in the early period. By the 1920s there was a sharp division among Black jazz musicians and fans about whether to embrace or repudiate New Orleans jazz. Even to this day, jazz (or variations such as smooth jazz, New Age, light jazz, or otther jazz-like sounds) is the most common soundtrack music for pornographic videos.

    Dixieland jazz featured a “front line” (typically a trumpet or cornet, trombone, and clarinet) and a “rhythm section” (at least two of banjo or guitar, string bass or tuba, piano, and drums). One instrument (usually the trumpet) would play the melody (or variations on the melody), while the other front line instruments improvised around the melody, creating a polyphonic sound. Dixieland was named after the highly successul Original Dixieland Jass Band.

    Some of the important famous jazz musicians to come out of the city during this period were Jelly Roll Morton, clarinetists Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, and Jimmy Noone, and cornetist Joe “King” Oliver and his student Louis Armstrong.

    Joe “King” Oliver was the first jazz band director. He took a basic meoldy and improvised jazz with it.

    “New Orleans had a great tradition of celebration. Opera, military marching bands, folk music, the blues, different types of church music, ragtime, echoes of traditional African drumming, and all of the dance styles that went with this music could be heard and seen throughout the city. When all of these kinds of music blended into one, jazz was born.” —Wynton Marsalis

    New Orleans jazz piano players “[s]eated at the piano with a carefree air that a king might envy, their box-back coats flowing over the stool, their Stetsons pulled over their eyes and cigars at a forty-five degree angle, … would ‘whip the ivories’ to marvelous chords and hidden racy meanings.” —The Negro and His Music, by Alain Locke, 1936

    Black musicians are reported using “ganga” in New Orlean’s Storeyville section. From 1910 through the 1930s, the Public Safety Commissioners and District Attorneys of New Orleans blamed Black musicians’ use of marijuana for their refusal to wear blackface. White performers wore blackface to play the part of Blacks (such as Al Jolson when singing the song “Swanee”). Throughout the American South (and to a lesser degree, other parts of the U.S.) Black musicians were banned from performing on stages. To get around the law, Black performers would apply blackface and pretend to be a White performer in blackface. Black musicians started rebelling against the practice and insisted on performing as themselves.

    New Orleans city officials claimed that jazz was a very powerful form of “voodoo” music. The power of the music was supposedly so great that it forced even decent White women to tap their feet. In 1917 the city of New Orleans closed down Storeyville to stop jazz. Black musicians moved up the Mississippi River, to Memphis, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Chicago, where anti-jazz laws were soon passed.

play    Jelly Roll Morton claimed to be the creator of jazz. He wrote “Black Bottom Stomp”, an example of New Orleans jazz, and his band, the Red Hot Pppers, recorded the song in 1926.

play    Louis Armstrong’s “When The Saints Go Marching In” is a classic Dixieland jazz song that remains well known beyond jazz fans.

1902

    Pianist Jelly Roll Morton claimed to be the inventor of jazz (originally called “jass”). See etymology at the top of this page.

    Lincoln Park became a popular jazz and ragtime venue. Lincoln Park was a noted amusement park in New Orleans, Louisiana from 1902 to 1930. It was located in the Gert Town section of the city on the downtown side of Carrollton Avenue between Oleander and Foshay Streets (near where Earhart Boulevard intersects Carrollton now). It was devoted to amusements for the city’s African American population. Early jazz musicians such as Buddy Bolden, Bunk Johnson, and Freddie Keppard were heard here. John Robichaux’s Orchestra was a regular feature. The park also had a skating rink, and featured hot-air balloon ascensions on weekends.

    As Blacks started moving to the North to take industrial jobs opened up by World War I stopping the flow of cheap European labor, an urban Black audeience came into existence and Black musicians recorded “race records”, records made by Black musicians for the urban Black audience.

    In 1912 the first east coast social club for African Americans, the Arch Social Club lounge and restaurant, opened in Baltimore, Maryland. The club featured jazz music, and continues to feature jazz music to this day.

    W.C. Handy, the father of the Blues, considered jazz as an important step in the continuum of Black music: spirituals, ragtime, the blues, and jazz.

1917 first jazz recording

    Freddie Keppard, a Black trumpeter from New Orleans, was offered the chance to record the first jazz recording, but declined because of fears that a recording would make it easier for others to steal his music.

play    The first jazz song ever released on a recording was Original Dixieland Jass Band’s 1917 “Livery Stable Blues” backed with “Dixie Jass Band One-Step”.

    The Original Dixieland Jass Band was an all-White musical group that copied the style of Black jazz musicians. The popularity of the recording propelled interest in jazz in Chicago and New York City at a time when jazz music was being chased out of New Orleans.

    “I don’t like to hear someone put down Dixieland. Those people who say there’s no music but bop are just stupid; it shows how much they don’t know.” —Miles Davis

1920s

    By the 1920s the central focal point of jazz had moved to Chicago, with such famous jazz musicians as Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Earl Hines, and King Oliver.

    Chicago jazz, also called hot jazz, was a faster version of Dixieland that transitioned from 2-beat to 4-beat and introduced the first elements of Swing.

    New York City also made major contributions to jazz because it was the center for music publishing in the United States. Stride piano, which developed from ragtime, was popular in New York. James Reese Europe experimented with a large jazz orchestra. New Orleans musician Clarence Williams moved to New York City and recorded jazz and blues.

    Following World War I, Black music, literature, poetry, dance, and visual art flourished in Harlem, New York, a period known as the Harlem Renaissance. By the late 1920s the center of jazz music had moved from Chicago to New York City.

    The Lindy Hop dance craze was based on hot jazz as played in Harlem, New York.

    Throughout the 1920s interracial music was rare, with Black musicians playing the “hot” style of New Orleans and White musicians playing a “sweet” style that Neil Leonard wrote “produced soft, dreamy, subtly exotic effects, often presenting a real beauty of tonal coloring.”

    “If the truth were known about the origin of the word ‘Jazz’ it would never be mentioned in polite society.” —Étude, Sept 1924

    There is an excellent essay on this comment at Some Thoughts on Jazz as Music, as Revolt, as Mystique.

    Duke Ellington moved from New York City to Washington, D.C., in the early 1920s.

    The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 occurred in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greenwood was the center of a significant Black community, with many Black owned businesses and a thriving jazz scene. The riot started when white lynch mob burned down 35 square blocks of Black homes and businesses. The American Red Cross estimated more than 300 dead.

    By 1922 Louis Armstrong moved to Chicago.

    Traditionalists (of Western Classical music) claimed that jazz was culturally inferior and greatly resisted its spread among White audiences.

    In 1923 Fletcher Henderson put together a pioneering orchestra at the Cotton Club. This band featured Coleman Hawkins and Don Redman. When Fletcher Henderson brought in Louis Armstrong, his band developed a jazz sound that started the swing era.

play    Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Jazz Band (featuring Louis Armstrong on cornet) recorded “See See Rider” in 1924. The song became a blues standard recorded by more than a hundred artists.

    In 1925 J.A. Rogers wrote that in jazz’s “barbaric rhythm and exuberance there is something of the bamboula, a wild, abandoned dance of the West African and Haitian Negro.”

    Mrs. Marx Obendorfer wrote “Jazz originally was the accompaniment of the voodoo dancer, stimulating the half-crazed barbarian to the vilest deeds … [It] has also been employed by other barbaric people to stimulate vrutality and sensuality.”

    Dr. Florence Richards, medical director at a girls’ high school wrote that jazz’s influence was “as harmful and degrading to civilized races as it always has been among savages from whom we borrowed it.”

    Milton Mezzrow, jazz clarinetist, wrote about jazz in the 1920s, “jazz was called ‘nigger music’ and ‘whorehouse music’ and ‘nice’ people turned their noses up at it.”

    Alain Locke wrote that jazz dancing “a series of snake-like gyrations and weird contortions of seemingly agonized bodies and limbs.”

    By 1926 Louis Armstrong’s distinctive style of singing, known as “scat catches”, spread to other jazz musicians.

    “Through his [Louis Armstrong] clear, warm sound, unbelievable sense of swing, perfect grasp of harmony, and supremely intelligent and melodic improvisations, he taught us all to play jazz.” —Wynton Marsalis

    “You can’t okay nothing on modern trumpet that doesn’t come from him [Louis Armstrong], not even modern shit. Never. Not even one time. He had great feeling up in his playing and he always played on the beat. I just loved the way he played and sang.” —Miles Davis

    Ernest Newman wrote in The Sunday Times, “The World of Music”, 4 September 1927, “Jazz is not a ‘form’ but a collection of tags and tricks.”

play    Joe “King” Oliver’s “West End Blues” was recorded first by King Oliver and his Dixie Syncopators for Brunswick Records on June 11, 1928, but the famous version was recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five on June 28, 1928.

play    In 1928 Louis Armstrong (trumpet) and Earl Hines (piano) recorded some of the most important jazz of this period, including their duet “Weather Bird”.

play    The only film of Bessie Smith singing was created in 1929, based on her 1925 version of W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues”, which featured Louis Armstrong. Bessie Smith became known as the Empress of the Blues.

play    “Creole Love Call” was recorded by the Duke Ellington and his Orchestra in October 1927 and features Adelaide Hall’s wordless vocals. This recording launched both Duke Ellington and Adelaide Hall to mainstream success. Joe “King” Oliver sued because the melody was the same as King’s 1923 recording of “Camp Meeting Blues” with his Creole Jazz Band. King lost because of problems with his paperwork. In 1928 Duke Ellington opened the “Rhythmania” revue at Harlem’s Cotton Club, featuring Adelaide Hall on “Creole Love Song”. [More information at the song video.]

play    In 1928 Louis Armstrong had a hit with the Dixieland jazz song “Basin Street Blues”.

    Duke Ellington said, “By and large, jazz has always been the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.”

    “At least one day out of the year all musicians should just put their instruments down, and give thanks to Duke Ellington.” —Miles Davis

1930s Swing

    The Swing Era featured big bands, such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, and Benny Goodman.

    A major contributor to the start of the Swing Era was White musician Benny Goodman making use of Black jazz arrangements. large bands, both Black and White, toured the United States and were played on the radio. The general public tended to think of Swing when it thought of jazz.

    Jazz vocalists, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Hoiiday, and Fats Walker, became famous.

    In 2000 Louis Armstrong was asked to define the rhythmic concept of swing and replied, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.”

    In 1930, one year after recording “Muggles” (a song about marijuana), Louis Armstrong was arrested in Los Angeles for possession of a single marijuana cigarette and was jailed for 10 days until he agreed to leave the state of California and not return for two years.

    Benny Goodman, at the urging of his brother-in-law John Hammond, created an openly desegregated band with Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, and Charlie Christian. His band could not play in much of the South.

    In 1935 Benny Goodman, a popular White bandleader and clarenist, hired Black pianist Teddy Wilson. In 1936 Goodman hired vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and drummer Gene Kupra.

play    Billie Holiday recorded “Strange Fruit”, based on a poem by New York high school teacher Abe Meerpool about the 1930 lynching of Rhomas Shipp and Abram Smith. Rare live version: play

play    In 1938 Louis Armstrong had a hit with the Dixieland jazz version of the American gospel hymn “When The Saints Go Marching In”.

Nazi oppression

    In the 1920s, jazz became popular in Berlin, Germany, first featuring Josephine Baker and Revue Negré, followed by authentic American jazz musicians and bands.

    Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) party sought to close down the active jazz scene in Berlin, Germany, by having his brown shirts make noisy disruptions at jazz performances. The Nazis called jazz a “transfusion of Negro blood”, “Jewish-influenced Negro music”, and “filthy bacterium”.

    Upon coming into power in 1933, Hitler unleashed a Gestapo campaign against jazz for the “moral cleaning of the German body.” Jazz fans, called Swing Heinis or Swinglugend (Swing Youth), were viewed with suspicion for the way they dressed.

    According to journalist and jazz expert Bert Noglik, in 1933 the Nazis persecuted Jewish, Gypsy, and jazz musicians and started a propaganda campaign against “Nigger music”, forbidding German radio stations from playing any jazz. “The swinging, free attitude of jazz contradicted the Nazi ideal of synchronizing society to a a march step by order.”


Title page of the brochure "Entartete Musik", or "Degenerate Music", 1938

    The Nazis were highly suspicious of any music that couldn’t be used for marching. The Nazis considered the saxophone to be the epitomy of “un-Germanic”.

    German jazz musicians including Carlo Bohländer and Emil Mangelsdorff illegally played jazzz at the Frankfurt Hot-Club. Later in the 1960s and 1970s, Frankfurt am Main (the capital of the state of Hesse) was the center of German jazz.

    Czech writer Josef Skvorecky recorded what he called “control-freak hatred of jazz” in regulations issued by a Gauleiter (regional Nazi official) for local dance orchestras in Nazi-occupied Czech territory.

  1. Pieces in foxtrot rhythm (so-called swing) are not to exceed 20% of the repertoires of light orchestras and dance bands;
  2. In this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;
  3. As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions over slow ones so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be tolerated;
  4. So-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);
  5. Strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a Jewish-Freemasonic yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);
  6. Also prohibited are so-called drum breaks longer than half a bar in four-quarter beat (except in stylized military marches);
  7. The double bass must be played solely with the bow in so-called jazz compositions;
  8. Plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to the instrument and detrimental to Aryan musicality; if a so-called pizzicato effect is absolutely desirable for the character of the composition, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;
  9. Musicians are likewise forbidden to make vocal improvisations (so-called scat);
  10. All light orchestras and dance bands are advised to restrict the use of saxophones of all keys and to substitute for them the violin-cello, the viola or possibly a suitable folk instrument.

    Hamburg became the center of the Swinglugend (Swing Youth) resistance against the Nazis. The Gestapo detained, interrograted, and tortured the Swing Boys and Swing Girls. On January 26, 1942, Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, ordered the arrest of the “rignleaders” of the Swing Youth. Between 40 and 70 of the Swing Youth were deported to nazi concentration camps. Boys under 18 were sent to the Jugendschutzlager (Youth detention camp) at Moringen and girls were sent to the camp at Uckermark, near Ravensbrück. After March 1942 adult jazz fans and Jewish swing musicians were deported to Thereslenstadt or concentration camps in Bergen-Bergen, Buchenwald, Hazungen, Dora-Mittelbau, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück, Sachenhausen, or Auschwitz.

    Günter Discher recalled impromptu jazz performances during breaks while forced into labor at a munitions plant near the Moringen youth detention camp, “The salt mine where we worked had really nice acoustics. One of us played on the cartridges, these were like wooden boxes, and he would play drums with some sticks. We improvised all sorts of things. Sometimes it sounded horrible. Either way, we had successfully gotten through our so-called breakfast break. It was a survival strategy.”

    The Swing Girls at the Ravensbrück camp sang to their fellow prisoners after lights-out in a group led by sisters Jutta and Inga Madlung. Jutta Madlung recalled, “Sometimes a night, ater lights out, we were quite precocious and would cover the windows with our bed sheets and then we would sing. … They liked it and were happy about the variety it brought whenever we sang ‘In the Mood’ or ‘Bei mir bist du schoen’ or ‘A Tisket, a Tasket’ or whatever.”

    More than 3,000 German Black men were arrested and placed in concentration camps for playing jazz music.

    The Gypsies of France and western Europe, known as the Manouches, combined traditional Gypsy luthiery and music with American jazz influences. Approxmately one and a half million of the six million people killed in the Holocaust were Gypsies. The Gypsy or Roma term for the Holocaust is the Porajmos, or “devouring”. Under the Nuremberg laws, the Roma and the Jews were defined as “enemies of the race-based state.” The Nazis actually started their persecutions with the Gypsies because laws against Gypsies already existed in the German Weimar Republic. Jazz musician Django Reinhardt was a Manouche Gypsy.

1940s Bebop

    Bebop is a very intellectual form of jazz.

    Coleman Hawkins, a jazz composer and saxophonist, put together a big band in 1940 and recorded bebop.

    “If you really understand the meaning of bebop, you understand the meaning of freedom.” —Thelonious Monk

    Nathaniel Mackey described the bebop revolution’s replacement of swing, “The white appropriation and commercialization of swing resulted in a music that was less improvisatory, less dependent on the inventiveness of the soloists, than was the case with music played by frican Americans.”

federal war against jazz

    From 1943 to 1948, Harry Anslinger, first Commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), ordered his agents to observe jazzz and swing musicians.

    On October 24, 1947, Anslinger wrote to all of his agents ordering them to prepare to conduct a national mass arrest of jazz and swing musicians for marijuana use.

    “Please prepare all cases in your jurisdiction involving musicians in violation of the marihuana laws. We will have a great National round-up arrest of all such persons on a single day. I will let you know what day.”

    Among the jazz musicians Anslinger planned to arrest were: Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Jimmy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Cab Calloway.

    One example of file on a jazz musician:

    “Defendant is a colored man in Camden, Texas, born ----, is 5' 8" tall, 165 lbs., black complexion, black hair, black eyes. He has scars on left forehead, and a tattoo of a dagger and the word ----, on his forearm. He is a musician and plays the trumpet in small 'hot bands.' He has a very large mouth and thick lips which earned him his name of --------. He is a marijuana smoker.”

    In 1978, Larry Sloman interviewed Dr. James Munch, Anslinger’s close friend and FBN chemist, about the campaign against jazz musicians.

    Sloman: “Why did he [Anslinger] want to go after them [the jazz/swing musicians] so much?”

    Dr. Munch: “Because the chief effect as far as they [Anslinger, FBN] were concerned was that it lengthened the sense of time, and therefore they could get more grace beats into their music than they could if they simply followed the written [musical] copy.”

    Sloman: “What’s wrong with that?”

    Dr. Munch: “In other words, if you are a musician, you are going to play the thing [music] the way it is printed on a sheet. But, if you’re using marijuana, you are going to work in about twice as much music in between the first note and the second note. That’s what made jazz musicians. The idea that they could jazz things up, liven them up, you see.”

    Sloman: “Oh, I see.”

    In 1948, Anslinger testified before a Senate Committee. He stated “I need more agents.”

    The Senators asked why.

    Anslinger replied, “Because there are people out there violating the marijuana laws.”

    “Who?”

    “Musicians,” Anslinger explained. “And I don’t mean good musicians; I mean jazz musicians.”

    Within 24 hours 76 newspaper ediorials critized Anslinger.

    In 1948, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department Edward H. Foley called off Anslinger’s plans for a National ROund-Up Arrest of jazz musicians.

Dizzy Gillespie

    “The first time you hear Dizzy Gillespie play the trumpet, you may think that the tape was recorded at the wrong speed. He played so high, so fast, so correctly ” —Wynton Marsalis

    Dizzy Gillespie songs

1950s Latin and Afro-Cuban Jazz

    “Afro-Cuban jazz celebrates a collective musical history. Through its percussive beat, it unites ragtime, blues, swing, and the various grooves of Cuban music. It proclaims our shared musical heritage.” —Wynton Marsalis

Communist oppression

    On July 3, 1950, jazz and classical pianist and singer Hazel Scott premiered The Hazel Scott Show on the DuMont Television Network, the first woman of color to have her own television show. Senator Joseph McCarthy arranged to have Hazel Scott called to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Her television show was cancelled on September 29, 1950. By the late 1950s, Hazel Scott fled to Paris, France to escape persecution.

    Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Soviet Union engaged in “vicous xenophobic persecution of jazz fans and musicians,” according to Uta G. Poiger. “Attackers associated the music with unbridled sexuality, homosexuality, degeneracy, and bourgeois decadence.”

    In 1957 Reginald Rudorf, a radio host and journalist, was arrested in East Germany for promoting jazz music starting after the end of World War II.

    The Soviet government investigated fans of “decadent Western jazz.” Jazz was considered “in the vanguard of a Yankee cultural assault.”

    In 1958 the head of the Soviet Union’s State Committee for Cultural Exchanges with Foreign Countries rejected a proposed visit by Louis Armstrong without explanation.

    In 1959 the Soviet Union forbid any jazz musicians from performing at the 1959 Moscow Fair, July 25 to September 5 in Moscow’s Sokolniki Park.

    Down Beat questioned why there was no jazz included in the American entertainment package to the 1959 Moscow Fair.

    The American entertainment was organized by Ed Sullivan. Sullivan’s spokesperson Gene Schott replied to Down Beat’s criticism by claiming “they want a high type of ‘typical American’ entertainment, not an intellectual program.”

    Down Beat pointed out that “high-type” entertainment was “a troupe of novelty snake dancers, saucer=spinners, and tightrope walkers, some accordion and harmonica music, one opera star, … three girl singers, a man who spits out lighted electric bulbs—and Ed Sullivan.”

    Louis Armstrong’s manager Joe Glaser defended Ed Sullivan and revealed that he had attempted to convince the Soviet officials to allow jazz.

    In 1962 Benny Goodman became the first jazz musician to tour the Soviet Union for the State Department, performing thirty shows in six Soviet cities from May 28, 1962, to July 8, 1962. This tour occurred while Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was jamming Voice of America, including the popular Willis Conover jazz programs.

    In 1987 Communist Czechoslovakia arrested members of the Jazz Section of the Czech Musicians Union for “operating an illegal enterprise.”

1960s

    Max Roach and his wife Abbey Lincoln recorded We Insist! Freedom Now Suite to promote equal rights for all Americans.

    Duke Ellington receives the President’s Gold medal of Honor.

1970s

    U.S. President Jimmy Carter hosts a jazz concert in the White House to honor Charles Mingus.

1980s

    In 1983 the U.S. Postal Service honors Scoot Joplin with a commenorative postage stamp.

1990s

    In 1999 John O’Farrell wrote, “Music is a journey. Jazz is getting lost.”

    In 1999 Kenny G released a single where he overdubbed Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wodnerful World”. Pat Metheny said, “When Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one the great Louis’ tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible.”

2000s

    In 2001 Julliard introduces a program that exclusively covers jazz.

    In 2003 Australian jazz singer Grace Knight organized a nude protest of 750 women against George Bush’s 2003 American invasion of Iraq.

    In 2009 Duke Ellington is depicted on the District of Columbia quarter dollar, becoming the first African American to be honored on a U.S. circulating coin.


song information

Listen to Music

Genre Channels


music players by genre:

listen to hip-hop listen to rock listen to country

listen to general music
listen to adult pop
listen to blues
listen to classic rock
listen to country
listen to dance/club
listen to hard rock
listen to modern rock
listen to pop
listen to R&B
listen to reggae
listen to rock
listen to Top-30 hits

a century of real blues

listen to pop listen to blues listen to jazz
listen to R&B listen to all stored music listen to Top 30
listen to dance music listen to metal listen to classic rock
listen to progressive rock listen to electronica listen to easy listening
listen to rap listen to hard rock listen to New Age
listen to independent music listen to alternative music listen to modern rock
listen to new wave listen to folk listen to punk
listen to reggae listen to Latin music listen to adult pop
listen to gospel listen to world music listen to adult contemporary
listen to bluegrass listen to Christian music listen to classical music
listen to music listen to music listen to music

buy songs or concert tickets

     Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale  

                

send review copies to:

Milo/This Side of Sanity
PO Box 1361
Tustin, California 92781 USA

contact:

contact

music | poetry | art  | Goddess stories | essays | politics | humor

return to home page