The Music of New Orleans: A Rich History of Jazz and Beyond

New Orleans is a city that has been shaped by its music. From the gospel music that reaches lofty heights to the marching bands that walk, dive and swing along parade routes, the city has a long history of musical influence. It is universally considered to be the birthplace of jazz, and has also been a major center for funk, rap, and bounce. The geographical heart of New Orleans' music is Congo Square, located in the famous Treme neighborhood, and now part of Louis Armstrong Park.

Congo Square began in the late 18th century as the only place where enslaved Africans were allowed to gather to hold markets, play music, dance, pray and socialize. This communal magic infused the birth of jazz with its unique outlook on life and rich ethnic and cultural makeup. Every ethnic group in New Orleans contributed to the city's very active musical environment and, in this way, to the development of early jazz. The oldest 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 several forms that have branched out from the original Dixieland or have taken completely different paths. The use of metal music bands came much earlier than jazz music through their use in the military, although in New Orleans many of the best-known musicians got their start in metal music bands playing funeral songs, as well as celebratory and upbeat tunes for New Orleans jazz funeral processions since the 1890s onwards. It was followed by a long list of musicians who left their stamp on the evolutionary style of jazz in the early 20th century, including Joe “King Oliver”, Kid Ory and Jelly Roll Morton, generally considered the first great jazz composer. White is a relative of first-generation jazz musicians from New Orleans, a professor at Xavier University and an acclaimed clarinetist, composer, bandleader, writer, producer and jazz historian.

In the 1890s, a man named Poree hired a band led by cornetist Buddy Bolden, many of whose contemporaries, as well as many jazz historians, consider him to be the first prominent jazz musician. “Funerals with music”, later called jazz funerals, are traditionally honorable processions that give a great farewell to a deceased person, especially a member of a social club or a benevolent society or a jazz musician. Whether you're in town for Mardi Gras or looking for authentic jazz performances, it's the gift that keeps on giving. Music commemorates both good times and bad times in New Orleans.

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