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Jazz Age


Jazz Age:
The famous people and artists of the Jazz Age.

Definition and Summary of the Jazz Age
Summary and definition:
The Jazz Age is the name given to the era in American history between the end of WW1 and the start of the Great Depression in 1929. The Jazz Age is also referred to in conjunction with the Roaring Twenties. The "Jazz Age"  was a period of many Political, Economic and Social changes when Americans cast aside old social conventions in favor of new ideas, embracing the rapid cultural and social changes of modernism and the flamboyant lifestyles of the new era.

Summary of the Jazz Age
Summary: The Jazz Age was the term coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald to describe the flamboyant "anything goes" era that was a feature of the 1920s. Jazz music, characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and a lively, strong rhythm, was introduced during the Harlem Renaissance, the African-American artistic and literary movement. Jazz music somehow typified the nonconformist aspirations of youth that dominated the shocking new fashions and lifestyles that emerged during the 1920's "Jazz Age"

Jazz Age Facts for kids: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the Jazz Age.

What was the Jazz Age? The Jazz Age was the era in American history that started with the end of WW1 and ended with the Great Depression of 1929 when jazz music, modern ideas, flappers and dance became popular.

Which decade was known as the Jazz Age? The decade known as the Jazz Age was the 1920's, also known as the Roaring Twenties.

Which phrase describes the Jazz Age? The words and phrase that best describes the Jazz Age is: "The period of the Jazz Age is associated with sophistication, modernism, exuberance, consumerism and decadence and the introduction of jazz music".

Facts about Jazz Age
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Jazz Age.

Artists: European artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne and Salvador Dali influenced the work of American artists such as Edward Hopper, John Marin and Charles Scheeler.

Art Deco: Art Deco, which also influenced architecture, used strong colors and geometric shapes to convey the "modern" look. Art Deco used sleek, streamlined forms to convey elegance and sophistication.

Books / Novels: The most famous book of the Jazz Age era was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Other notable books were The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot and Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque recounted the horrors of WW1 and D. H. Lawrence shocked the world with Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Cocktails: Cocktails became a huge fad in 1920s, served at cocktail parties and in American clubs and 'speakeasies' during the Prohibition Era. Famous cocktails of the Jazz Age included Gin Rickeys, Crème de Menthe, Egg flip, Stinger, Manhattan, Rattlesnake, Bronx, Martini, Manhattan, The Martini Sidecar cocktail, Southside, Mary Pickford and the Dubonnet Cocktail.

Chicago: In the Jazz Age Chicago was famous for Al "Scarface" Capone and the Chicago Mafia and other prohibition gangsters such as "Bugs" Moran. Rivalry between the gangsters led to the  St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The rise in organized crime in Chicago led to the appointment of Eliot Ness and the "Untouchables" who brought down Al Capone. Jazz Age Chicago also saw the arrival of musician Louis Armstrong the famous jazz trumpeter and singer who was influential in the emergence of jazz music. Louis Armstrong he met other musicians such as Hoagy Carmichael and Bix Beiderbecke in the Chicago nightclubs where he accompanied blues singers including Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

Dance and Dances:
The new style of jazz music new, crazy, flamboyant dance moves. New dances evolved including the Charleston, the Black Bottom, the Shimmy, Turkey trot, Cake walk, the Baltimore, the Bunny hop, the Lindy Hop and the American Tango. The older traditional dances such as the waltz and the foxtrot  were also popular but another new phenomenon, known as the Marathon dance, swept the nation. A combination of the modern dance moves were made famous by the movies starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Films / Movies: The new phenomenon of the Cinema, or 'Picture Palace' started with silent, black and white movies of the early 1920's that were accompanied by piano or organ music. The first all-color movie called 'Toll of the Sea' was released IN 1922. The first movie with sound effects and music, was called Don Juan. Charlie Chaplin's popular silent comedy 'The Gold Rush' premiered on August 16, 1925. The 'talkies' started in 1927 with the 'The Jazz Singer' starring Al Jolson - First talking movie - The Jazz Singer.  Stars of films and movies such as Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton and Mae West were idolized. The Jazz Age movies were a cheap form of entertainment and by 1929 an average of 100 million Americans went to the cinema every week

Great Gatsby: The Great Gatsby was the most famous book of the era. F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby in 1925 which told the story of the fictional Jay Gatsby and exposed the excesses of Consumerism during the 1920s. F. Scott Fitzgerald described the Jazz Age as “...the greatest, gaudiest spree in history”

KKK - Ku Klux Klan: The Resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan followed WW1. The KKK were portrayed as the protector of traditional values and opposers of immigration. The movement of African Americans to the northern cities during the Great Migration also opposed by the KKK.

The Second KKK attracted millions of new members and led to an increase in racial bigotry and nativism in the Jazz Age. On August 8, 1925 more than forty thousand Klansmen famously marched through Washington filling Pennsylvania Avenue.

Literature: American authors, playwrights and poets of the Jazz Age challenged traditional ideas and reflected the impact of modernism in the literature of the ere. The new style of literature reflected realistic themes and characters. Many Jazz Age authors disillusioned by the Great War concentrated on the negative effects of consumerism and modernism.

Music: Jazz music originated in New Orleans in the early 1900s. European and African music culture combined together with Blues, Ragtime and Dixie and jazz was born. Louis Armstrong is credited with putting Jazz on the musical map.

Jazz developed in the speakeasy cellars in the cities of New York and Chicago. Not everyone approved or appreciated jazz music. Anne Faulkner, head of the music division of the General Federation of Women's Clubs described jazz as "a destructive dissonance". Jazz, ragtime and the music from Broadway musicals dominated the Age.

Musicians: The famous jazz musicians of the period included Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Paul Whiteman, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, , Bix Beiderbecke, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, Edward "Kid" Ory, Ella Fritzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Florence Mills, Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith "the Empress of the Blues & Jazz" and Duke Ellington.

New York: The Harlem Renaissance, the "flowering of Negro literature" was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The cabaret form of entertainment began in New York City and the growing number of speakeasies during the Prohibition era of the 1920's provided many aspiring jazz musicians with new venues. Duke Ellington arrived in New York City and met his other musicians such as James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. Tin Pan Alley became the center of the music industry in New York City. The Cotton Club was the most famous of all the Harlem nightspots.

Poetry: The Harlem Renaissance saw the emergence of many Black African poets including Claude McKay whose eloquent poetry about American racism included poems such as 'If we must Die' and 'The Lynching'. Langston Hughes, known as 'The Poet Laureate of Harlem' wrote 'The negro speaks of rivers, 'The Weary Blues'  and 'I too' as a response to 'I hear America singing' by Walt Whitman. Ezra Pound, T.S. Elliot, Carl Sandburg, and E.E. Cummings wrote their poetry with an increasing lack of formality and conventional style. The first poets to write about jazz music and the Jazz Age culture were Vachel Lindsay, Carl Sandburg, Mina Loy, and Hart Crane.

Radio: The music of the Jazz Age was introduced to Americans due to the introduction of large-scale radio broadcasts in 1922. Americans could listen to the new style of music without leaving their homes of going to a jazz club in a big city. African American Jazz musicians such as like Armstrong initially received very little airtime because most radio stations preferred to play the music of white American jazz singers. Big-band jazz music, like that of Fletcher Henderson and James Reese Europe, attracted large radio audiences. For more facts refer to 1920's Radio and Advertising.

Slang: The Jazz Age slang that emerged during the era were flapper, speakeasy, ace, hooch, big cheese, jazzbos, bootlegger, crush, cat's whiskers, the bee's knees, gatecrasher, whoopee, floorflusher, juice joint, splifficated, swanky, vamp, scram, lounge lizards, stool pigeons, tommy guns and 'Dirty rats'.

Songs: The most popular songs of the Jazz Age included "Ain't Misbehavin'", “Baby Face”, “I Want to Be Happy”, "Sweet Georgia Brown", "Dinah", "The Sheik of Araby", "Bye Bye Blackbird", “Blue Skies”, “Crazy Rhythm”, “Charleston” and “Singin’ in the Rain”. George Gershwin's jazz-influenced "Rhapsody in Blue" was released in 1927 that blended symphonic music with jazz.

Writers: The writers and authors of the age included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O'Neill, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and T.S. Eliot. The famous writers of the Harlem Renaissance were Zora Neil Hurston, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Countee Cullen, Alain Locke and Dorothy West

US American History
1913-1928: WW1 & Prohibition

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