History of Jazz in America (1900s)

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In Music
  • 1900

    A cutting contest (a colloquial term for music competition) for ragtime pianists is held at New York's Tammany Hall.
  • 1901

    Charles Booth's performance of J. Bodewalt Lange's Creole Blues is recorded for the new Victor label. This is the first acoustic recording of ragtime to be made commercially available. Loius Armstrong born.
  • 1909

    The popularity of ragtime continues to grow among Blacks and white resulting in increased public interaction between the races.
  • 1913

    The word "jazz" first appears in print.
    James Reese Europe records ragtime arrangements in New York with the first black ensemble to be recorded.
    Vernon and Irene Castle, a married dance team, begins performing floor shows at James Europe's shows.
  • 1922

    Trombonist Kid Ory's band, based in Los Angeles, makes the first recordings by a black ensemble playing in the New Orleans style.
    Pianist Fats Waller makes his first recordings.
    Pianist William "Count" Basie makes his first recordings.
    Blues singer Mamie Smith continues to grow in popularity, recording twenty songs with her band The Jazz Hounds, which features saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.
    Ragtime publisher John Stark goes out of business signifying the end of ragtime.
  • 1925

    Blues singer Bessie Smith and trumpeter Louis Armstrong record the classic version of W.C. Handy's St. Louis Blues for Columbia Records.
    Louis Armstrong makes his first recordings with his group, the Hot Five.
    James P. Johnson records Charleston, which becomes a huge hit and gives rise to a dance of the same name.
    Electrical recordings are introduced.
    The Original Dixieland Jass Band disbands.
    Pianist Fats Waller gives lessons to pianist Count Basie.
  • 1930

    Trumpeter Louis Armstrong records Body and Soul.
    In a recording session with Armstrong, percussionist Lionel Hampton plays his first vibraphone solo and decides to make that his main instrument.
    Bandleader Paul Whiteman and his orchestra star in the movie The King of Jazz.
    Bandleader Cab Calloway becomes a regular at the Cotton Club.
    Free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman is born.
  • 1938

    Benny Goodman's band hosts a sold out concert at Carnegie Hall which features a jazz history element and a jam session with members of Duke Ellington’s and Count Basie's bands. After the Goodman concert, Count Basie's band and Chick Webb's band have an informal competition at the Savoy Ballroom.
    Cornetist King Oliver dies after years in poverty working as a pool-room janitor.
  • 1940

    Composer and bandleader Duke Ellington hires saxophonist Ben Webster and records Ko-Ko, Concerto for Cootie, and Cottontail.
    Trumpeter Cootie Williams leaves Ellington's band and is replaced by trumpeter and violinist Ray Nance.
    Vibraphonist Lionel Hampton's big band records Flying Home.
    Nat King Cole's trio records the timely piece, Gone with the Draft.
  • 1947

    Louis Armstrong appears at Carnegie Hall with Billie Holiday.
    Miles Davis continues to perform with Charlie Parker at the Three Deuces and makes a series of recordings with Parker.
    Miles Davis makes his first recordings as a leader, featuring Charlie Parker, pianist John Lewis, and drummer Max Roach.
    Charlie Parker records numerous tracks for the Dial and Savoy labels.
    Billie Holiday is convicted for possession of heroin.
  • 1954

    Miles Davis records Walkin' and Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants, the latter featuring Thelonious Monk and Milt Jackson.
    The highly popular Chet Baker Quartet records My Funny Valentine and But Not For Me.
    Dave Brubeck appears on the cover of Time magazine, his quartet records Jazz Goes To College.
    Drummer Shelly Manne records West Coast Sound.
    The first American jazz festival is organized in Newport, Rhode Island by George Wein.
  • 1959

    Thelonious Monk appears at Town Hall.
    Miles Davis records Kind of Blue, which pioneers modal jazz, and will eventually become one of the best selling jazz albums of all time.
    Saxophonist Lester Young dies.
    John Coltrane records Giant Steps.
  • 1963

    Charles Mingus records The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady, a landmark in extended structure and free improvisation.
    Bill Evans records Conversations with Myself, which uses overdubbing.
    Miles Davis performs and records with his new group with Herbie Hancock, saxophonist George Coleman, bassist Ron Carter, and 17-year-old drummer Tony Williams.
  • 1970

    Charles Mingus records The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady, a landmark in extended structure and free improvisation.
    Bill Evans records Conversations with Myself, which uses overdubbing.
    Miles Davis performs and records with his new group with Herbie Hancock, saxophonist George Coleman, bassist Ron Carter, and 17-year-old drummer Tony Williams.
  • 1975

    Saxophonist Michael Brecker and his brother, trumpeter Randy, record together.
    Return to Forever records No Mystery.
    Miles Davis performs in Japan, New York, and at the Newport Festival before going into retirement.
    Guitarist Pat Metheny records his first album, Bright Sized Life, with electric bassist Jaco Pastorius.
    Pianist Bill Evans records the album Alone.
  • 1981

    Pianist Mary Lou Williams dies.
    Miles Davis makes his first live performance since retirement at Avery Fisher Hall in New York.
    Saxophonist David Sanborn records the album Voyeur, featuring the Grammy-winning song All I Need is You, composed by bassist Marcus Miller.
    Saxophonist Branford and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis joins Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
  • 1986

    Wynton Marsalis records Standard Time, establishing his reputation as a traditionalist.
    Jazz-pop musician Kenny G has a hit with Songbird.
    Jazz education and outreach organization Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz established in memory of the jazz legend.
    The film ‘Round Midnight is released, starring saxophonist Dexter Gordon as a character loosely based on pianist Bud Powell; Herbie Hancock wins Academy Award for original score.
    Jazz legend Benny Goodman dies.
  • 1992

    Miles Davis' final album, Doo-Bop, which features rap, is released.
    Saxophonist Branford Marsalis becomes the bandleader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, with a group that includes pianist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Bob Hurst, and drummer Jeff Watts.
    Hip hop group US3 has a hit with a song that samples Herbie Hancock's Cantaloupe Island.
    Pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Tony Williams and trumpeter Wallace Roney tour in a tribute to Miles Davis.
  • 1998

    Guitarist Pat Metheny and bassist Charlie Haden win Grammy Awards for their duet album Beyond the Missouri Sky.
    Guitarist Kevin Eubanks replaces Branford Marsalis as the bandleader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.