Jazz Genres and Greats


Jazz music has been a highly influential art form since its conception in the early 1900s. Over the years numerous subgenres have evolved, each with its own personality. Here are just a few of the more prominent subgenres of jazz that emerged during Louis Armstrong’s lifetime.

Ragtime – Ragtime was a popular style of dance music in the early 1900s characterized by a syncopated, “ragged” rhythm. Influenced by European classical music, the popular marches of composers such as John Phillip Sousa, and the polyrhythms of traditional African music, it is seen as the American equivalent of Mozart’s minuets or waltzes by Brahms. Noted ragtime composers include Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, and Jelly Roll Morton, who was also influential in the early days of jazz. Listen to Joplin's The Entertainer

 Dixieland – This style of jazz originated in New Orleans and eventually moved north to cities such as Chicago and New York. Dixieland music combines brass band marches, ragtime, blues and French Quadrilles to create a distinctive and influential style of jazz music. Influential artists include the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, who recorded the first jazz single ever issued. Listen to Livery Stable Blues

Swing – Swing music is characterized by a strong rhythm section as the anchor for a “big band” of brass, wind and occasionally string instruments played at a faster tempo with a lilting rhythm. Swing gained popularity in the 1920s and 30s, but started to decline in the 1940s as band members went overseas to serve in World War II. Influential artists include Duke Ellington, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong. Listen to Take the A Train

Bebop – Bebop emerged in the late 1940s and early 50s, categorized by fast tempo and instrumental virtuosity. The name derives from Latin American band leaders’ use of the cry “Arriba! Arriba!” while conducting their bands. Bebop music was particularly influential to the Beat poets, as well as contemporary rock and hip-hop music. Noted artists include Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Coltrane. Listen to Salt Peanuts

Bossa nova – Bossa nova is a fusion of samba and jazz that originated in Brazil. It uses seventh and extended chords and has influenced American popular music since the 1950s. Bossa nova is rhythmically similar to samba in that it emphasizes the second beat, but it is much more harmonically complicated and less percussive than traditional samba music. Noted artists include Philadelphia-born saxophonist Stan Getz and the Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto. Listen to Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, Girl From Ipanema


Pictured (top to bottom):
Scott Joplin, Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz.




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