Jazz club

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The Louis Moholo Quintet performing at a jazz club Louis Moholo Quintet.jpg
The Louis Moholo Quintet performing at a jazz club

A jazz club is a venue where the primary entertainment is the performance of live jazz music, although some jazz clubs primarily focus on the study and/or promotion of jazz-music. [1] Jazz clubs are usually a type of nightclub or bar, which is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Jazz clubs were in large rooms in the eras of Orchestral jazz and big band jazz, when bands were large and often augmented by a string section. Large rooms were also more common in the Swing era, because at that time, jazz was popular as a dance music, so the dancers needed space to move. With the transition to 1940s-era styles like Bebop and later styles such as soul jazz, small combos of musicians such as quartets and trios were mostly used, and the music became more of a music to listen to, rather than a form of dance music. As a result, smaller clubs with small stages became practical.


In the 2000s, jazz clubs may be found in the basements of larger residential buildings, in storefront locations or in the upper floors of retail businesses. They can be rather small compared to other music venues, such as rock music clubs, reflecting the intimate atmosphere of jazz shows and long-term decline in popular interest in jazz. [2] Despite being called "clubs", these venues are usually not exclusive. Some clubs, however, have a cover charge if a live band is playing. Some jazz clubs host "jam sessions" after hours or on early evenings of the week. At jam sessions, both professional musicians and amateurs will typically share the stage.


In the 19th century, before the birth of jazz, popular forms of live music for most well-to-do white Americans included classical concert music, such as concerti and symphonies, music played at performances, such as the opera and the ballet, and ballroom music. For these people, going out was a formal occasion, and the music was treated as something to listen to (if at the symphony or the opera house), or dance reservedly to (if at a ball).

During the same century, African-American communities were marginalized from an economic perspective. But despite this lack of material wealth, they had thriving community and a culture based around informal music performances, such as brass band performances at funerals, music sung in church and music played for families eating picnics in parks. African-American culture developed communal activities for informal sharing, such as Saturday night fish fries, Sunday camping along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain at Milneburg and Bucktown, making red beans and rice banquettes on Mondays, and holding nightly dances at neighborhood halls all over town. [3] This long and deep commitment to music and dance, along with the mixing of musical traditions like spiritual music from the church, the blues carried into town by rural guitar slingers, the minstrel shows inspired by plantation life, the beat and cadence of military marching bands and the syncopation of the ragtime piano, led to the creation of a new way to listen to live music. In the jazz history books, places such as New Orleans, Chicago, Harlem, Kansas City, U Street in Washington D.C., and the Central Avenue zone of Los Angeles are often cited as the key nurturing places of jazz. [4]

The African musical traditions primarily made use of a single-line melody and call-and-response pattern, and the rhythms have a counter-metric structure and reflect African speech patterns. Lavish festivals featuring African-based dances to drums were organized on Sundays at Place Congo, or Congo Square, in New Orleans until 1843. [5] Another influence on black music came from the style of hymns of the church, which black slaves had learned and incorporated into their own music as spirituals. [6] During the early 19th century an increasing number of black musicians learned to play European instruments.

The "Black Codes" outlawed drumming by slaves, which meant that African drumming traditions were not preserved in North America, unlike in Cuba, Haiti, and elsewhere in the Caribbean. African-based rhythmic patterns were retained in the United States in large part through "body rhythms" such as stomping, clapping, and patting juba. [7] In the post-Civil War period (after 1865), African Americans were able to obtain surplus military bass drums, snare drums and fifes, and an original African-American drum and fife music emerged, featuring tresillo and related syncopated rhythmic figures. [8]

The abolition of slavery in 1865 led to new opportunities for the education of freed African Americans. Although strict segregation limited employment opportunities for most blacks, many were able to find work in entertainment. Black musicians were able to provide entertainment in dances, minstrel shows, and in vaudeville, during which time many marching bands were formed. Black pianists played in bars, clubs and brothels, as ragtime developed. [9] [10] Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre, [11] which originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from their spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants and rhymed simple narrative ballads. [12]

The music of New Orleans had a profound effect on the creation of early jazz. Many early jazz performers played in venues throughout the city, such as the brothels and bars of the red-light district around Basin Street, known as "Storyville". [13] In addition to dance bands, there were numerous marching bands who played at lavish funerals (later called jazz funerals), which were arranged by the African-American and European American communities. The instruments used in marching bands and dance bands became the basic instruments of jazz. [14]

Jazz Age

Despite its growing popularity, not all who lived in the Jazz Age were keen on the sound of jazz music, and especially of jazz clubs. By the advent of the 20th century, campaigns to censor the "devil's music" started to appear, prohibiting when and where jazz clubs could be built. For example, a Cincinnati home for expectant mothers won an injunction to prevent construction of a neighboring theater where jazz will be played, convincing a court that the music was dangerous to fetuses. By the end of the 1920s, at least 60 communities across the nation enacted laws prohibiting jazz in public dance halls. [15]

Prohibition in 1920 fostered the emergence of the underground, gangster-run jazz clubs. These venues served alcohol, hired black musicians, and allowed whites, blacks and audiences of all social classes to mingle socially for the first time. [15] Although the underground jazz clubs encouraged the intermingling of races in the Jazz Age, there were other jazz clubs, such as the Cotton Club in New York, that were white-only.


By the 1940s, jazz music as a form of popular music was on the decline, and so was the popularity of jazz clubs. In the early 1940s, bebop-style performers began to shift jazz from danceable popular music towards a more challenging "musician's music." Since bebop was meant to be listened to, not danced to, it could use faster tempos. Drumming shifted to a more elusive and explosive style and highly syncopated music. [16] While bebop did not draw the huge crowds that had once flocked to Swing-era dance clubs, the bebop style was based around small combos such as the jazz quartet. With these smaller combos on stage, smaller clubs could afford to pay the ensembles even with much smaller clubs than were common in the 1930s heyday of the Cotton Club.

Soul Jazz

Soul Jazz was a development of hard bop which incorporated strong influences from blues, gospel and rhythm and blues to create music for small groups, often the organ trio of Hammond organ, drummer and tenor saxophonist. Unlike hard bop, soul Jazz generally emphasized repetitive grooves and melodic hooks, and improvisations were often less complex than in other Jazz styles. It often had a steadier "funk" style groove, which was different from the swing rhythms typical of much hard bop. Soul Jazz proved to be a boon to Jazz clubs, because since organ trios were based around the powerful Hammond organ, a three-piece organ trio could fill a nightclub with the same full sound that in previous years would have required a five- or six-piece band.

Resurgence of traditionalism

Wynton Marsalis Wynton Marsalis 2009 09 13.jpg
Wynton Marsalis

The 1980s saw something of a reaction against the fusion and free jazz that had dominated the 1970s. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis emerged early in the decade, and strove to create music within what he believed was the tradition, rejecting both fusion and free jazz and creating extensions of the small and large forms initially pioneered by such artists as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, as well as the hard bop of the 1950s. Whether Marsalis' critical and commercial success was a cause or a symptom of the reaction against Fusion and Free Jazz and the resurgence of interest in the kind of jazz pioneered in the 1960s (particularly Modal Jazz and Post-Bop) is debatable; nonetheless there were many other manifestations of a resurgence of traditionalism, even if fusion and free jazz were by no means abandoned and continued to develop and evolve. Well into the 1980s, the clubs where it is performed in these countries provide meeting places for political dissidents, however, attendance of these clubs is minuscule compared to the popularity of jazz clubs during the Jazz Age.

Notable clubs

North America

New Orleans, Louisiana

Known as the "birthplace of jazz," New Orleans is home to some of the oldest and most famous jazz clubs in the United States, [17] including:

Manhattan, New York

Harlem, New York

  • Savoy Ballroom [19]
  • Minton's Playhouse [20]
  • Cotton Club [21]

Washington D.C. and U Street

  • Howard Theater [22]
  • Crystal Caverns [23]
  • Lincoln Theater [24]

Chicago, Illinois

  • The Beehive Lounge [25]
  • Mandel Hall [25]
  • Cadillac Bob's [25]
  • Club DeLisa [25]
  • Gerri's Palm Tavern [26]

Seattle, Washington

  • Dimitriou's Jazz Alley [27]

Denver, Colorado

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Wallys Cafe


Brussels, Belgium

London, England

Rome, Italy

See also

Related Research Articles

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, it has been recognized as a major form of musical expression in traditional and popular music. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, complex chords, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in European harmony and African rhythmic rituals.

Ragtime, also spelled rag-time or rag time, is a musical style that flourished from the 1890s to 1910s. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated or "ragged" rhythm. Ragtime was popularized during the early 20th century by composers such as Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb. Ragtime pieces are typically composed for and performed on piano, though the genre has been adapted for a variety of instruments and styles. "Maple Leaf Rag", "The Entertainer", "Fig Leaf Rag", "Frog Legs Rag", and "Sensation Rag" are among the most popular songs of the genre.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bebop</span> Subgenre of jazz music developed in the U.S. in mid-1940s

Bebop or bop is a style of jazz developed in the early-to-mid-1940s in the United States. The style features compositions characterized by a fast tempo, complex chord progressions with rapid chord changes and numerous changes of key, instrumental virtuosity, and improvisation based on a combination of harmonic structure, the use of scales and occasional references to the melody.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dizzy Gillespie</span> American jazz trumpeter

John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator and singer. He was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuosic style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic and rhythmic complexity previously unheard in jazz. His combination of musicianship, showmanship, and wit made him a leading popularizer of the new music called bebop. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, scat singing, bent horn, pouched cheeks, and light-hearted personality provided one of bebop's most prominent symbols.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jazz band</span> Musical ensemble that plays jazz music

A jazz band is a musical ensemble that plays jazz music. Jazz bands vary in the quantity of its members and the style of jazz that they play but it is common to find a jazz band made up of a rhythm section and a horn section.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buddy Bolden</span> American cornetist and jazz pioneer

Charles Joseph "Buddy" Bolden was an African American cornetist who was regarded by contemporaries as a key figure in the development of a New Orleans style of ragtime music, or "jass", which later came to be known as jazz.

Swing music is a style of jazz that developed in the United States during the late 1920s and early 1930s. It became nationally popular from the mid-1930s. The name derived from its emphasis on the off-beat, or nominally weaker beat. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, known as the swing era. The verb "to swing" is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong groove or drive. Musicians of the swing era include Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Harry James, Lionel Hampton, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Django Reinhardt.

Jazz standards are musical compositions that are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be standards changes over time. Songs included in major fake book publications and jazz reference works offer a rough guide to which songs are considered standards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soul jazz</span> Music genre

Soul jazz or funky jazz is a subgenre of jazz that incorporates strong influences from hard bop, blues, soul, gospel and rhythm and blues. Soul jazz is often characterized by organ trios featuring the Hammond organ and small combos including tenor saxophone, guitar, and organ. Its origins were in the 1950s and early 1960s, with its heyday with popular audiences preceding the rise of jazz fusion in the late 1960s and 1970s. Prominent names in fusion ranged from bop pianists including Bobby Timmons and Junior Mance to a wide range of organists, saxophonists, and guitarists including Jack McDuff, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Grant Green.

Latin jazz is a genre of jazz with Latin American rhythms. The two main categories are Afro-Cuban jazz, rhythmically based on Cuban popular dance music, with a rhythm section employing ostinato patterns or a clave, and Afro-Brazilian jazz, which includes samba and bossa nova.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Australian jazz</span>

Jazz music has a long history in Australia. Over the years jazz has held a high-profile at local clubs, festivals and other music venues and a vast number of recordings have been produced by Australian jazz musicians, many of whom have gone on to gain a high profile in the international jazz arena.

Afro-Cuban jazz is the earliest form of Latin jazz. It mixes Afro-Cuban clave-based rhythms with jazz harmonies and techniques of improvisation. Afro-Cuban music has deep roots in African ritual and rhythm. Afro-Cuban jazz emerged in the early 1940s with the Cuban musicians Mario Bauzá and Frank Grillo "Machito" in the band Machito and his Afro-Cubans in New York City. In 1947, the collaborations of bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and percussionist Chano Pozo brought Afro-Cuban rhythms and instruments, such as the tumbadora and the bongo, into the East Coast jazz scene. Early combinations of jazz with Cuban music, such as "Manteca" and "Mangó Mangüé", were commonly referred to as "Cubop" for Cuban bebop.

Contradanza is the Spanish and Spanish-American version of the contradanse, which was an internationally popular style of music and dance in the 18th century, derived from the English country dance and adopted at the court of France. Contradanza was brought to America and there took on folkloric forms that still exist in Bolivia, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Panama and Ecuador.

The music of Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, can be documented as far back as 1784, and the city has become a regional center for Western classical music and jazz. Early Baltimore was home to popular opera and musical theatre, and an important part of the music of Maryland, while the city also hosted several major music publishing firms until well into the 19th century, when Baltimore also saw the rise of native musical instrument manufacturing, specifically pianos and woodwind instruments. African American music existed in Baltimore during the colonial era, and the city was home to vibrant black musical life by the 1860s. Baltimore's African American heritage to the start of the 20th century included ragtime and gospel music. By the end of that century, Baltimore jazz had become a well-recognized scene among jazz fans, and produced a number of local performers to gain national reputations. The city was a major stop on the African American East Coast touring circuit, and it remains a popular regional draw for live performances. Baltimore has produced a wide range of modern rock, punk and metal bands and several indie labels catering to a variety of audiences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kansas City jazz</span> Style of jazz music

Kansas City jazz is a style of jazz that developed in Kansas City, Missouri during the 1920s and 1930s, which marked the transition from the structured big band style to the much more improvisational style of bebop. The hard-swinging, bluesy transition style is bracketed by Count Basie, who in 1929 signed with Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra, and Kansas City native Charlie Parker, who ushered in the bebop style in America. It has been said that while New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz, "America's music" grew up in Kansas City.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Music of New Orleans</span> Overview of music traditions in New Orleans

The music of New Orleans assumes various styles of music which have often borrowed from earlier traditions. New Orleans, Louisiana, is especially known for its strong association with jazz music, universally considered to be the birthplace of the genre. The earliest form was dixieland, which has sometimes been called traditional jazz, 'New Orleans', and 'New Orleans jazz'. However, the tradition of jazz in New Orleans has taken on various forms that have either branched out from original dixieland or taken entirely different paths altogether. New Orleans has also been a prominent center of funk, home to some of the earliest funk bands such as The Meters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jazz drumming</span> Art of playing percussion, predominantly the drum set, in jazz styles

Jazz drumming is the art of playing percussion in jazz styles ranging from 1910s-style Dixieland jazz to 1970s-era jazz fusion and 1980s-era Latin jazz. The techniques and instrumentation of this type of performance have evolved over several periods, influenced by jazz at large and the individual drummers within it. Stylistically, this aspect of performance was shaped by its starting place, New Orleans, as well as numerous other regions of the world, including other parts of the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Dixieland jazz, also referred to as traditional jazz, hot jazz, or simply Dixieland, is a style of jazz based on the music that developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century. The 1917 recordings by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, fostered awareness of this new style of music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Terry Waldo</span> American pianist and composer (born 1944)

Terry Waldo is an American pianist, composer, and historian of early jazz, blues, and stride music, and is best known for his contribution to ragtime and his role in reviving interest in this form, starting in the 1970s. Says Wynton Marsalis in his introduction to Waldo's book: "He teaches Ragtime, he talks about Ragtime, he plays it, he embodies it, he lives it, and he keeps Ragtime alive." The book, This is Ragtime, published in 1976, grew out of the series of the same title that Waldo produced for NPR in 1974. Waldo is also a theatrical music director, producer, vocalist, and teacher. He is noted for his wit and humor in performance, as "a monologist in the dry, Middle Western tradition." Eubie Blake describes his first impression of Waldo's performance thus: "I died laughing...that's one of the hardest things to do—make people laugh. Terry's ability to do this, combined with his musicianship, actually reminds me of Fats Waller."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outline of jazz</span> Overview of and topical guide to jazz

Jazz – musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States, mixing African music and European classical music traditions.


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Further reading