The Best of 1920s Jazz Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

1920s Jazz is some of the best music ever made. If you’re looking for the best of the best, then look no further. We’ve collected the best 1920s Jazz tracks for you to enjoy.


1920s jazz was a vibrant and popular style of music that emerged in the United States in the aftermath of World War I. The genre’s roots can be traced back to the blues and ragtime music that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jazz music quickly became a mainstay in American culture, with some of the genre’s most iconic performers including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald.

1920s jazz was characterized by its syncopated rhythms, improvisational style, and horns-heavy instrumentation. The genre would go on to influence subsequent styles of music, including bebop and swing. 1920s jazz remains popular to this day, with many modern musicians drawing inspiration from its distinctive sound.

The Birth of Jazz

New Orleans

New Orleans is considered the birthplace of jazz. The earliest records of jazz date back to the city in the early 1900s. Jazz was developed by African American musicians who were influenced by the blues and ragtime. These early jazz musicians would often play at parties and dances. They would improvise their music, which was a new concept at the time.

Jazz started to gain popularity in the early 1920s. This was due in part to the rise of radio and recordings. Jazz became more commercialized and began to spread to other parts of the United States and even Europe. By the end of the 1920s, jazz was one of the most popular genres of music.


Chicago was a major center for jazz in the 1920s. The city was a major destination for African-American musicians and singers who were looking for work and better opportunities. Many of the most famous jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Jelly Roll Morton, got their start in Chicago. Chicago was also home to some of the most famous jazz clubs, such as the Green Mill and the Sunset Café.

Kansas City

Kansas City Jazz is a style of jazz that developed in the Midwestern United States city of Kansas City, Missouri during the 1920s and 1930s. It was influenced by jazz styles from New Orleans and other parts of the Southern United States, as well as Ragtime music.

The Kansas City sound was characterized by a heavy use of blues notes, improvisation, and a propulsive rhythm section. It was often played in small clubs with dance floors, which led to its association with the “wide-open” style of arranging associated with Count Basie and Benny Moten.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Kansas City Jazz became more commercialized and less improvisational, although it continued to be influential throughout the United States. Some of the most famous musicians associated with Kansas City Jazz include Lester Young, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Jay McShann, Count Basie, and Charlie Parker.

The Spread of Jazz

One of the most important aspects of 1920s jazz was its spread to different parts of the United States and even to different parts of the world. Jazz music became popular in New Orleans, Chicago, and New York City. But it also spread to other parts of the country, such as Kansas City and St. Louis. Even Europe and Asia were exposed to jazz music in the 1920s.

New York City

New York City was the birthplace of what we now call jazz. The city’s vibrant nightlife and creative atmosphere fostered the development of this unique form of music. It wasn’t long before jazz spread throughout the country and around the world, thanks in part to the popularity of radio and recordings.

In the 1920s, New York became the center of the jazz world, thanks to venues like Harlem’s Cotton Club and downtown’s Greenwich Village. Some of the most famous jazz musicians got their start in New York, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman.

The Spread of Jazz
Jazz began in New Orleans in the late 1800s, but it didn’t take long for it to spread to other parts of the United States. By the 1920s, jazz was being played in New York City, Chicago, Kansas City, and other cities.

The popularity of radio and recordings helped jazz to become even more popular. Jazz music could now be heard by people all over the country (and eventually all over the world).

Some of the most famous jazz musicians got their start in New York City in the 1920s. These include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Ella Fitzgerald.

West Coast

West Coast jazz is a form of cool jazz that developed in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, when some bebop musicians began experimenting with cool jazz styles, incorporating elements of rhythms andpercussion from swing and Latin American music.

The cool style of jazz was originally created on the West Coast of America in the 1940s by such composers as Dave Brubeck and Chet Baker. In the 1950s, West Coast jazz spread across America, becoming the dominant form of jazz for a time. Many of the best known performers and composers associated with West Coast jazz came from Los Angeles, including Miles Davis, Gerald Wilson, and Shelly Manne.

The Stars of Jazz

The 1920s saw the birth of a new kind of music: jazz. This new style of music quickly caught on and became one of the most popular genres of the decade. Jazz bands were composed of both black and white musicians, and they often played in speakeasies and nightclubs. Some of the most famous jazz musicians of the 1920s include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Jelly Roll Morton.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American trumpeter, composer, singer and occasional actor who was one of the most influential figures in jazz and in all of American popular music. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in jazz. Armstrong was a foundational influence in the development of bebop and cool jazz. He is credited with four major contributions to jazz: extending common harmonic practice, improvised melodic soloing, rhythmic innovations (swing), and scat singing.

In television and film advertising Armstrong’s gravelly voice and warm personality were instantly recognizable and helped boost product sales for everything from cigars to Coca-Cola. Throughout his later career Armstrong made countless appearances on television variety shows—including The Ed Sullivan Show—and acted in both dramatic and comedic roles in films such as High Society (1956) with Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra; Playing It Cool (1954); Pennies from Heaven (1936); Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band (1939); Too Hot to Handle (1938); ambulance chaser Start Cheering (1938), Swing Parade of 1946 featuring Billie Holiday; King of Jazz (1930), Romance on the High Seas (1948), A Song Is Born (1948) New Orleans (1947) Texas Carnival starring Esther Williams; The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart; Call Me Madam (1953); The Five Pennies with Danny Kaye; Birth of the Blues starring Bing Crosby;Hi De Ho starring Carmen Miranda; Dancing Co-Ed starring Lana Turner—as well as cameos as himself on I Love Lucy (“The Caviar” episode), Star Trek: The Original Series (“The City On The Edge Of Forever” episode) ,Fresh Prince Of Bel Air , among others.

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was one of the most important figures in jazz history. He is considered one of the greatest composers in the genre and his band was one of the most popular and influential ensembles of the 1920s. His style was marked by a unique blend of African-American and European influences, and he is credited with helping to popularize jazz around the world. Ellington’s compositions were complex and often featured sweeping Orchestral arrangements, but they were also rooted in the blues and other African-American musical traditions. He helped to shape the sound of jazz and left a lasting legacy that continues to influence musicians today.

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith was an American singer and one of the first great jazz vocalists. She was nicknamed the “Empress of the Blues” and was noted for her powerful voice, perfect pitch, and ability to improvise.

Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to a poor family. Her parents both died when she was young, and she began singing in church choirs and on the streets to earn money. When she was 18, she moved to Philadelphia and began performing in clubs. She quickly gained popularity and began touring with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins.

In 1925, Smith signed with Columbia Records and released her first record, “Downhearted Blues,” which became a huge hit. She went on to release over 150 recordings during her career, including such classics as “St. Louis Blues,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”

Smith’s style influenced a generation of singers, including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and Aretha Franklin. She died in 1937 at the age of 43 after a car accident.

The Decline of Jazz

The 1920s was the era of great jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Jelly Roll Morton. Jazz was the popular music of the time and was enjoyed by people of all races. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s led to the decline of jazz. Many jazz musicians could not find work and had to give up their music careers.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was a time of hardship for many people across the United States. One group that was particularly hard hit were jazz musicians. Jazz was seen as a symbol of excess and luxury, and as the country entered into a period of austerity, people were less likely to spend their money on entertainment. This, coupled with the fact that many of the most talented musicians of the 1920s had died or retired by the early 1930s, led to a decline in popularity for jazz.

However, there were still some bright spots during this time. Duke Ellington and his band continued to be popular, playing at Carnegie Hall in 1933 to a sold-out crowd. Other well-known jazz musicians such as Benny Goodman and Coleman Hawkins also continued to find work during this period. And while the number of people going to see jazz concerts may have declined, the music still had a devoted following among those who loved it.

The Swing Era

The Swing Era is the period of big band jazz from approximately 1935 to 1945. Though it largely developed and took hold in the United States, Swing also became popular in Britain, Western Europe, and Asia. Swing jazz began to develop in the 1920s as bandleaders such as Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson created more infectious compositions featuring a stronger rhythmic feel. This was partially in response to critics who complained that jazz lacked structure, but it was also due to the ever-increasing popularity of dance music. In general, Swing Era big bands consisted of around a dozen pieces, including a rhythm section (piano, bass, drums), one or more brass sections (trumpets, trombones), woodwinds (saxophones, clarinets), and occasionally a string section.


In conclusion, the best of 1920s jazz music was characterized by a number of important features. Firstly, the music was heavily improvisational, with musicians often playing off of each other in order to create new and exciting sounds. Secondly, the rhythm was often syncopated and irregular, giving the music a unique and infectious groove. Finally, the jazz of this era was also very Influenced by blues music, resulting in a sound that was bothunique and hugely popular with audiences.

Similar Posts