Over a century ago, a band of five members made their way to the 12th floor of the Victor Talking Machine Company’s building in New York. The music that was about to be played was certainly not well-designed or rendered using great technical skills. The final recording contains moments where sounds of a rooster, a cow, a whinnying horse, a trombone and a cornet were imitated by a clarinet.

This recording is popularly recognized as the first jazz recording in history. Moreover, the band would come to be known as the Original Dixieland Jass Band who recorded Livery Stable Blues on February 26th, 1917.

It isn’t false that this was the first recoded sample of jazz music, yet this wasn’t the origination of jazz.  Although these young musicians claimed that they had invented jazz, the truth is that they had learned this genre of music from some New Orleans African American musicians.

The origins of jazz can be traced back to the second half of the 19th century. Back then, New Orleans was a port city where people from all over the world gathered to socialize and share music. Since it one of the only places in America that allowed slaves to own drums, they developed a rich musical culture of their own.

Following the end of the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery (1861-1865), many slaves began pursuing jobs in the entertainment industry, mostly as musicians. This increased their exposure to other kinds of music styles and genres from around the world, allowing them to experiment more with their own style.

Jazz was born as a result of the freedom and emancipation found in this new world, making way for these former slaves to experiment and express themselves through music. This expression became a fundamental element of jazz.

Prior to the 1980s, jazz was more of a form of experimentation than a musical genre in itself. It found its roots in the traditions of West Africa (rhythm, feel, blues) as well as Europe (various instruments, harmonic chords). Additionally, these early samples of jazz also integrated slave songs, church hymns, field chants and Cuban-style rhythm into their music.

Eventually, this leads to the appearance of ragtime music, the immediate precursor to what we now know as jazz. By composing 44 original ragtime pieces, Scott Joplin became the most well known ragtime musicians. Other musicians and bands started imitating this style, while also improvising to add their own twist on the music. These improvisations lead to the development of what is now recognized as the modern jazz.

Since most of the early and notable jazz musicians performed throughout New Orleans, this city ended up playing a fundamental role in the creation of jazz.

During this time period, George Vital Laine, who’s known as the father of white jazz, led an integrated marching band that produced some of the top jazz players of the city.

Although it would take a few decades for jazz to really start making a significant place in the world of music, this was the era that truly gave birth to this genre. However, it was around the 1920s when jazz became popular across the US and Europe. And even if they didn’t invent the genre, the Original Dixieland Jass Band still played a significant role in popularizing it.