Chicago In The 1920s – The Rise Of Jazz

by Annie Saxena on Feb 09, 2023

Chicago In The 1920s – The Rise Of Jazz

“When I pick up that horn. . .the world’s behind me, and I don’t concentrate” Louis Armstrong

Chicago tells the story of the rise of Jazz in 1920s America. It defines the romanticised version that people have of the ‘20s. The music, the fashion, the bootleggers and the crime all in one city made the ‘20s historic. Chicago was home to many of the era’s most influential jazz musicians. These individuals were known collectively as “The Chicagoans”. It was the hub of music and energy in the 20s, making it a decade of nightclubs and jazz with beautiful fashion. It was a time of spirit and creativity.

The jazz culture began in the city as many talented musicians came with a wave of immigrants. They brought a distinctly southern sound to the north. Chicago became the hub of jazz music with talented musicians like Goodman, Armstrong, Oliver, and many others. Whether you call him Dipper, Satchmo or Pops, Louis Armstrong is unquestionably the most recognizable name in jazz. The “What a Wonderful World” singer came to Chicago in the 1920’s. He became one of the city’s most popular musicians, with his famous trumpet solos.
With immense talent and the industry’s backing, players like Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong had massively influenced the music scene. Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden, Glenn Miller and Earl “Fatha” Hines all made their way to play in Chicago by 1925 to improve the jazz music scene. The “Windy City” got its own unique style due to Goodman’s album release in 1926, when he was the tender age of 17.

Chicago has maintained its rich cultural history of jazz music till date. The music is actively present across town in nightclubs and festivals. Despite an industry shift towards New York, places in Chicago like “The Three Deuces” became the scene of jam sessions bringing together some of the American icons of jazz in the 1920s. Green Mill in Uptown is a legendary club that has experienced all the great works in this genre of music that still runs today. By the end of the ‘20s Chicago had shifted the musical landscape dramatically and forever. To preserve its musical culture, the Chicago city hosts an annual Chicago Jazz Festival every year.

Jazz has become an intellectualised genre in today’s age that appeals to very few people. However, the vast array of Jazz rhythms have influenced various genres of music like Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop and Rock. These genres have chord progressions that feature Jazz. Hip-hop is said to be the most influenced by Jazz as the improvisation in freestyle tunes and rap, parallels the improvisation of jazz musicians. A number of Pop singers usually perform with jazz musicians amalgamating various rhythmic, melodic and harmonic tools from both genres. The swing rhythm in Jazz has been adapted and transformed into the shuffle groove that features in Blues. Rock music has taken a lot from Jazz as well. Prominent rock acts often call upon the musicality of jazz musicians. An epic genre like Jazz can never go out of date, it only evolves over time which is exactly how Jazz has grown by influencing the new genres of music.