Jazz is an original American musical art form originating around
the start of the 20th century in New Orleans, rooted in Western
music technique and theory, and is marked by the profound cultural
contributions of African Americans. It is characterized by blue
notes, syncopation, swing, call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation.
Jazz has been described as "America's Classical Music,"
and started in saloons throughout the nation.
Jazz has roots in the combination of Western and African music traditions,
including spirituals, blues and ragtime, stemming ultimately from
West Africa, western Sahel, and New England's religious hymns and
hillbilly music, as well as in European military band music. After
originating in African American communities near the beginning of
the 20th century, jazz gained international popularity by the 1920s.
Since then, jazz has had a pervasive influence on other musical
styles worldwide. Even today, various jazz styles continue to evolve.
The word jazz itself is rooted in American slang, probably of sexual
origin, although various alternative derivations have been suggested.
According to University of Southern California film professor Todd
Boyd, the term was originally slang for sexual intercourse as its
earliest musicians found employment in New Orleans brothel parlors.
At the root of jazz is the blues, the folk music of former enslaved
Africans in the U.S. South and their descendants, heavily influenced
by West African cultural and musical traditions, that evolved as
black musicians migrated to the cities. According to jazz musician