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A 1728 French map of the layout of New Orleans Jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams’ “History of Jazz” Jazz Roots It is often said that jazz is the only art form that was totally born and bred in America. But that is not to say that its parents weren’t from all over the world … The New Orleans area in the late 1800s was a very culturally diverse area. By 1882 “New Orleans” already had 200 years of various rulers and cultures under its belt. The French controlled the Louisiana area from early 1682, when French explorers claimed and named the region for King Louis XIV, until 1764. The city itself was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne. The Spanish brought their culture and their laws from 1764 through 1800 when France re -acquired L ouisiana from Spain. In 1803 the United States purchased Louisiana from France in the famous “Louisiana purchase”. Each of these cultures had different attitude towards slavery and the treatment of slaves. The slave trade was based in and around the Ca ribbean island of Haiti and Spanish colonies based in Central and South America. Out of the more than 10 million slaves that were brought to the Americas from North West Africa (Now Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria) only an estimated 6% of these victims were traded in British North America. These approximately 600,000 people had their own diverse linguistic, ethnic, spiritual and musical cultures. So, by the late 19 th century, we have 200 years worth of many cultures coexisting and interacting within the re latively small area of New Orleans and its surrounding areas: • British colonists • French colonists who have been there since the 1600s and another wave in the early 1800 when France reacquired the area from Spain. • Spanish influences from the last half of the 1700s. • The “Creoles” which are the result of the interracial union of Spanish, French and African slaves. The French also had a tradition of freeing their slaves upon the death of their “owners”. The South had thousands of free African citizens and free mixed race combinations of French, Spanish and African origins. More on the Creoles later…. • The African slaves and their culture including over 100 years of Haitian culture mixed in. By 1750 enslaved Africans constituted 20% of the population of British North America The French, British and Spanish all bring a generally “European” musical culture to the party.

The Africans have their own musical culture that had developed over thousands of years. The cross -fertilization of these European and Afri can cultures is precisely what lead to development to the style of music that has become “Jazz”. The next section will explore the concept of a “music culture” and look into the differences between a European music experience and an African one.

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