In the 1970s, while in Madison, Wisconsin, I came across a record called Cosmic City, by a Jazz musician called Sun Ra. i am looking for a copy of the record.
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Jazz is one of the few arts that can be considered truly American. Founded primarily in the south during the 1800's, this form of music was the first significant African American contribution that would be heard all around the world. Its constantly changing nature and loose rules allow it to be flexible and therefore, viable to audiences of all ages.
The combination of an already established African American population with the influence from Caribbean and Mexican merchants, began to integrate with the popular brass bands. The town was home to legendary players such as Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton.
The sound began to travel across the United States in the 1920's, becoming popular in large cities such as New York and Chicago. New players used the piano to combine a Ragtime feel with already established sounds. James Reece Europe began to experiment with full orchestras, a real testimony to the classic jazz improvization to come.
Today, Jazz can still be heard echoing in the smokey clubs in towns like Kansas City, Memphis and New Orleans, but a new generation has begun to appreciate the sounds of Jazz and swing. Bands like The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies have taken their own modern look at the genre and drawn in a much younger audience.
It is a sound that has truly influenced all types of music. Today, electronic DJ's and rappers alike "sample" or borrow hooks from famous jazz songs. Begining in the streets of New Orleans to spinning on the turntables at parties, Jazz is truly an American artform, and one to be proud of.
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