|Courtesy of Wikipedia|
But what is in this mass of puzzle pieces which make up the image of jazz? As we have read about and discussed in class, this puzzle’s composition is richly diverse. The multicultural roots of the city allowed for a more tolerant atmosphere towards the African slaves and their everyday lives, including their self-expression through music, song, and dance. In Ted Gioia’s History of Jazz, he opens his chronicle of jazz by introducing us to
Congo Square, a place designated by the city of for the purpose of allowing slaves to gather and perform (3-5). This tolerant (compared to most other cities) view of the slaves allowed for a more dynamic cultural mixing to occur. As Professor Stewart put it, “You just know there is someone [a non-slave] standing back, tapping their foot [to the music at New Orleans Congo Square].”
|Storyville 1907, Wikimedia Commons|
Gioia also notes the role of two very different institutions, the Storyville brothels and the churches of
, in the creation of jazz. Stereotypically, jazz has been tied up with the “contagion of vice” in New Orleans, but as Gioia shows, the “ties with the house of God” were just as important, if not more so (31). He goes on to elaborate on all the general occasions that jazz performances occurred at, such as community activities and fundraising events, clarifying that the two extremes of the bordello and the church were not key factors in themselves (32). As I have already stated, it is my opinion that there is no small, local-scale, specific, key factor in the creation of jazz, but rather it was the large-scale, unique situation of New Orleans that created an environment which allowed for jazz. New Orleans
So, like a puzzle’s center, the people of New Orleans who make up the picture of jazz are not simply a jumbled mess – the people, their art, and their lives have to fit together just right to make the image come together.