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Discuss the roots of jazz and the elements of jazz that make it unique.

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New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, specifically an area called Congo Square—a town square which was a gathering place for slaves and free blacks during the 19th-century, as well as a site for drumming celebrations, which played a role in the development of jazz. Congo Square still exists and is a part of what is now Louis Armstrong Park. Armstrong is regarded, along with Sidney Bechet—another New Orleanian—as one of the fathers of jazz. Bechet, technically, was the first jazz soloist; he recorded his first album several months before Armstrong entered Okeh Records's studio in Chicago in 1922.

Jazz was born from New Orleans's creole culture. It used African beats, European melodies, and some elements of traditional Native American music to create a new and uniquely American form. No one is quite sure where the name 'jazz,' sometimes also spelled or pronounced 'jass,' comes from. Jazz is traditionally played along four beats, with improvisation on the fourth beat. Improvisation is...

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