How Italian-Americans Took Jazz to the Global Stage


The dawn of the Jazz Age can be traced to a single moment: Feb. 26, 1917.

The following article, written by Georgetown University Professor Anna Celenza, appears on The Lens. 

As genres go, New Orleans-style jazz is the quintessential musical hybrid, mixing everything from brass band marches and French quadrilles to beguine, ragtime and blues. There’s no disputing that the cross-fertilization was carried out under an innovative performance style that first took root in New Orleans in the hands of African-American musicians. But what accounted for the rapid spread of jazz — or “jass” — was the mesmerizing synthesis of its myriad musical characteristics by musicians of various ethnicities, not least of them Italian.

Continue reading at The Lens. 

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