Jazz was once a taboo in Jamaica and was actually referred to by churches as “devil music.” In fact, the music genre wasn’t played on Sundays. During this time there was American and European popular music played by road bands. That was in various dancing halls throughout Jamaica. Many of these areas were located in modern-day downtown Kingston.
However, within thetime the situation changed and churches started having fund-raisers that included some modern music. The music had originated in various regions of the US including New Orleans in particular.
During this era, the black music was becoming more like white music. In addition, technology made it easier for Jamaicans to listen to music from black neighborhoods in the US. This made the situation different than in the past.
However, it’s important to note that Jamaica is different than the US in various ways including culture. Within time some jazz fans started to bring jazz as well as rhythm and blues genres from regions in the US such as Florida back to the Caribbean.
As time passed the sound systems moved from local areas to broader areas. Within time the music was also played in dancing halls throughout the country. In the past, the music had only been played in Kingston.
Sound systems started to take the place of road bands. That’s because they could play for long hours and didn’t get tired. The music was also used for both listening and dancing. The sound systems could play both jazz and blues.
The jazz genrebecame more mainstream when a bandleader named Milton McPhearson started to promote a 2-nithg concert at a theater. The event was called “Fashions in Jazz.” Several jazz concerts then started to take place throughout Jamaica. These were concert hall-style events. The series of concerts lasted from 1954 to 1958. The events only included Jamaican musicians/artists.
It’s interesting to note that only one ticket was sold for the first concert of the jazz series. The person who bought the ticket was a jazz lover. However, when it was showtime the nearly 1,000-seat theater was full.
The classical black music was experiencing its peak popularity. That included various concert series that first included white classical music. However, as time passed it featured famous jazz musicians including Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. There were also some jazz musicians who originated from Jamaica.
Due to the popularity of the events, they were moved to a theater that seated almost 2,000 people. Some events were even moved to an open-air theater.
It should be noted that some people weren’t fans of jazz and favorited bebop music instead. However, as time passed Jamaican jazz became better known and more famous. There were various other developments as well. There was also more funding from foreign countries that helped to make Jamaican jazz more popular.
Today jazz is struggling to survive. However, somemusicians are still playing the genre in Jamaica. However, jazz is having some tough times due to people, organizations, and even churches using the genre to make money.