Celebrate the joys of jazz this April.
By Bek Karp, Staff Writer and Artist
Every month has its theme; its “National Fill-in-the-Blank.” February is Black History Month, March is Women’s History Month and June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. But, other than the big staples, each month is the national “month of a million other things” as well. For example, October is National Donut Month, December’s National Learn a Foreign Language Month and January is National Bath Safety Month.
Besides its claim to fame with Easter, April is also National Jazz Appreciation Month. And with the appreciation of jazz comes the appreciation of those incredible artists that paved the way for music as it is today.
Jazz originated around 1917 in the swingin’ town of New Orleans, also known as Nor’lahns to the locals. The echo of its birth remains today with bands on every corner, jazz in every speaker, and deep preservation of the history of the legends like Louis Armstrong.
Jazz originated from the highly popular genre of “ragtime” and erupted in the 1920s. Scott Joplin, an African-American pianist and composer who initially composed ragtime pieces, was one of the most influential contributors in the early stages of jazz, all posthumously. Musicians would add to his songs and riff around the melody, beginning the fundamentals of jazz, which involves trading riffs and harmonies.
Jazz then evolved into not only instruments but lyrical masterpieces as well. During the Great Depression, a girl in Harlem sang on the streets for food. That girl became known as the “First Lady of Song,” the “Queen of Jazz,” Lady Ella Fitzgerald herself. She changed the game and paved the way for women in jazz with her smooth scatting, and prolific career. At the same time, Billie Holiday was also beginning her career, and both women became some of the biggest names in jazz history. Charlie Parker, known as the best saxophonist to ever live, was also making music during the time of Fitzgerald and Holiday, and samples of his music are used in the most familiar jazz songs we know and love today.
This April, maybe during Easter, take a moment to listen to some jazz and appreciate the revolutionary music that created and tied so many people together throughout history.