25 Photos Celebrating Jazz History

Jazz through the ages.

“Jazz is restless,” trombonist J.J. Johnson once said. “It won’t stay put and it never will.” The history of jazz music reflects that restlessness and tumult, starting from the genre’s African American ragtime roots, through the height of the Jazz Age during Prohibition, the popularization of jazz during the 1950s and 60s, and the fusion and foreign influences that characterize jazz today. In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, we celebrate the movers and shakers that helped shape one of music’s most dynamic genres.

Buddy Bolden’s Band, circa 1905

The Original Dixieland Jass Band, 1918

Ray Miller Orchestra, early 1920s

Bessie Smith, 1936

Duke Ellington and his band at the Hurricane cabaret, 1943

Count Basie’s band and Ethel Waters from the film Stage Door Canteen, 1943

Mary Lou Williams, 1946

Django Reinhardt and Duke Ellington, 1946

Sarah Vaughan at Café Society, 1946

Coleman Hawkins and Miles Davis at Three Deuces, 1947

Ella Fitzgerald with Dizzy Gillespie at Downbeat, 1947

Billie Holiday at Downbeat, 1947

Harry Gibson, 1948

Louis Armstrong, 1953

Anita O’Day at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1958

Benny Goodman and Jackie Searle, 1960

Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1967

Dizzy Gillespie and Mickey Roker, 1977

Betty Carter at the Great American Music Hall, 1979

Nina Simone, 1982

Amina Claudine Myers, 1983

Etta James at San Jose Music in the Park, 2000

Cassandra Wilson, 2006

Herbie Hancock, 2008

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis, and Norah Jones, 2010


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Jessica Marati

Jessica Marati currently resides in New York City and covers travel and sustainability for EcoSalon. Catch her weekly column, Behind the Label.