New Orleans, or Dixieland, jazz is played by small bands usually made up of cornet or trumpet, clarinet, trombone, and a rhythm section that includes bass, drums, guitar, and sometimes piano. When the band marched, as it often did in the early days, the piano and bass were omitted and a tuba was used. The three lead instruments provide a contrapuntal melody above the steady beat of the rhythm, and individualities of intonation and phrasing, with frequent use of vibrato and glissando, give the music its warm and highly personal quality. The music ranged from funeral dirges to the exuberant songs of Mardi Gras.
The pioneer black New Orleans jazz band of Buddy Bolden was formed in the 1890s. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, both white bands, successfully introduced jazz to the northern United States. The closing in 1917 of the notorious Storyville district of New Orleans produced an exodus of jazz musicians. Many went to Chicago, where the New Orleans style survived in the bands of King Oliver, and later in the music of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Johnny Dodds. Fate Marable, who had played on Mississippi riverboats since 1910, now began to organize riverboat jam sessions with outstanding musicians.
Meanwhile, distinctive styles developed in many cities, evolved by younger musicians who stressed a single melodic line rather than the New Orleans counterpoint. Bix Beiderbecke, a cornetist and pianist and a major Chicago-style musician, was influential in developing more complex melodic lines. Jazz spread to Kansas City, Los Angeles, and New York City.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.