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When preparing a paper on the history of jazz, there are a number of points that should be discussed. The first such point involves the relationship of jazz to the history of African-Americans and the civil rights movement. While the history of jazz includes some notable Caucasian musicians, for example, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, and Bix Beiderbecke, there is no question that jazz is primarily an African-American innovation. Although jazz's early practioners drew on European musical structures, those influences were merged with the musical influences brought over from Africa during the days of the slave trade. Both the blues and jazz have their roots in the African-American experience. Jazz was "born" in the American South, specifically, in the city of New Orleans, and spread to major concentrations of African-Americans in New York City and Kansas City. The history of jazz, in short, is inseparable from the history of blacks in America.
Another major point to be addressed in a paper on jazz could be the different schools or forms that jazz took over the years, including Bebop, Swing, Bossa Nova (the Brazilian-influenced jazz perfected by the aforementioned Stan Getz), traditional, and so on. Each of these forms of jazz evolved as a result of experimentation on the part of gifted musicians, all of whom could be considered to have their origins in the early 20th Century "ragtime" compositions of Scott Joplin. Finally, this discussion could include a contrast between the more improvisational styles of jazz as practiced by musicians like Charlie Parker, and the more classical and structured style personified by Wynton Marsalis.
A third major point that could be addressed involves the distinction between the blues and jazz, two distinctly different musical genres that both have their origins in the African-American experience.
Finally, discussion of prominent jazz composers and musicians, especially the early practitioners like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong -- both of whom had to function creatively within the confines of both white racism and organized crime's control of the nightclubs in which they performed -- "middle history" artists like Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and more contemporary musicians like Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Joshua Redman, throwing in, perhaps, "old-school" jazz artists like Sonny Rollins who continue ply their trade today.
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