Before you attend the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival it’s important to know the basics about the history of jazz. Jazz/classic blues are actually music innovation of the early 1900s. However, certain traits actually originated from music traditions that took place earlier.
There are various elements from Western art music. In fact, many of the elements in jazz are shared by other music genres of the last century. One particular era that historians often focus on in terms of the roots of jazz are “antebellum” That happened during roughly 1815 to 1861. It’s believed that this era was critical to jazz’s deep roots.
In order for jazz to be a uniquely black tradition in North America, there was one requirement that had to be met. That was a population of blacks who were born in America rather than Africa. This was a “creole” population.
The African slave trade closed in 1808. After that African-Americans started to reproduce in the US at faster rates. This resulted in the creole population increasing in the US, which differed from Latin/Caribbean American colonies.
There was less African impact on American culture in the early and middle 1800s than in Cuba or Brazil. What happened was that following 1808 African-Americans started to remember their African music traditions. They actually reinvented them for a different American context.
This is a key fact. It’s important to note that the re-invention of African traditions during the 1800s had different forms. The music that was created was different in various regions. In fact, there was even a difference between “uptown” and “downtown” styles during the era.
For example, the music in the South was greatly based on the music sang on cotton plantations and in tobacco fields. The music had a special meaning about the very difficult work in those places. Whites even banned drums in the Caribbean region colonized by the British. It was believed that they were used as a form of communication between different groups.
Then there was the “uptown” music that slaves played at various planter functions. That included the playing of various instruments such as violins. These included various balls that took place there.
By the time of the US Civil War, music that was shaped by the experience of African-Americans had shown up in both the Northern and Southern regions. In addition, New Orleans had already become important in the history of black music. That includes an interesting reference to “antebellum” black music that was found in a diary. This was one of the most important eras in US history that seems to have greatly influenced jazz music.
There are other important events that lead to the development of jazz music. What’s most important I that it’s become one of the world’s most popular music genres. It’s celebrated in various countries including Jamaica. That’s one reason why the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival is so important since it celebrates international musicians who have continued the tradition of the art form. You can appreciate the music even more if you attend the festival this year.