To African-Americans in the late nineteenth century,
one literal sound of freedom was that of the military marching bands of
the American Civil War. This music, combined with the Ragtime and blues
styles that developed some time later, evolved to form one of the truly
indigenous art forms of the United States.
The 'jas,' or the Creole brothel, is thought to have
been the birthplace as well as the namesake of the new sound of jazz. Early
traditional jazz combined the complexity of Ragtime, the tight arrangement
of marching band music, and the inventive, free spirit of the blues. It
incorporated structured improvisationsat its center while the band maintained
The sound evolved dramatically throughout the twentieth
century in various forms: from the New York City Bebop of Dizzy Gillespie
and Charlie Parker to the Free Jazz of the Art Ensemble of Chicago; from
the Fusion of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to the Hard Bop of Art Blakey.
But throughout jazz's great explorations, it has kept improvisation at
its center, and as such it has always remained a music of freedom
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