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America in the 1920's. The Jazz Age. The Rise of Jazz Music. In 1922 the first commercial radio station in the USA opened in Pittsburgh The number of radio stations grew at a rapid rate, and with them, spread the popularity of jazz music

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America in the 1920's


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The Rise of Jazz Music

  • In 1922 the first commercial radio station in the USA opened in Pittsburgh
  • The number of radio stations grew at a rapid rate, and with them, spread the popularity of jazz music
  • The rise was also helped by the growing production and use of the gramophone
  • In fact, jazz became the most popular music of the 1920’s!
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This was the first time white people had been exposed to black music – and millions loved it

  • Jazz originated in the black neighbourhood of Harlem, New York
  • Jazz provided an opportunity for black musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington
  • They made big money from nightclub and radio performances
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The rise of Jazz music also led to new popular dances such as The Charleston, the Jitterbug and the Tango

  • These high-energy dances were a welcome relief to old ballroom dancing and waltzes of America before World War One
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But Not Everyone Was So Happy!

  • “Jazz music causes drunkenness. All sense is lost and animal passions take over in its presence”
  • “Jazz lyrics, written in Negro brothels, are an offence to women”
  • “Jazz has a demoralising effect on the human brain, which has been demonstrated by scientists. Jazz stimulates people to do extreme deeds; it is harmful and dangerous”

But these feelings and comments only seemed to make jazz music even more popular, particularly among women!

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Jazz and the Speakeasy Culture

  • Prohibition jump-started the Jazz Age
  • During Prohibition, "The parties were bigger…the pace was faster…and the morals were looser." (Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • Mob bosses opened plush nightclubs with exotic floor shows and the hottest bands…At Small's Paradise in Harlem, waiters danced the Charleston, carrying trays loaded down with cocktails
  • Out in rural America, on Midwestern college campuses, kids drank "bathtub gin" and danced to the hot jazz of ‘Bix and the Wolverines’
  • Jazz took the blame for being “an influence for evil in society”