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Jazz in the Park
Jazz in the Park
Jazz in the Park

Music History

Music commemorates good times and bad in New Orleans 

Born of both hope and despair, the New Orleans soundtrack is as disparate as the history of its population, fueled by the influx of enslaved Africans to the waves of immigrants from places like Sicily, Ireland, Germany and, in more recent years, Mexico and Central America.

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, the city of Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Pete Fountain, Harry Connick, Jr. and the Marsalis family.

It’s a place where gospel music achieves lofty heights and marching bands step, dip and sway down well-worn parade routes. It’s a place where Mardi Gras Indians first inspired the call and response now associated with hip-hop, rap and bounce.

New Orleanians care deeply about family, faith, food, traditions, and, perhaps most of all, about making a joyful noise. Here we take our brassy expression of bliss to the streets in celebration of life, death and everything in between.

  • While people dispute Jazz's birthday, the birthplace of Jazz is indisputable. Learn more about New Orleans as the birthplace of Jazz.
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  • The jazz funeral celebrates life and mourns death. New Orleanians use music as a way to "cut loose" and help heal. 
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  • Colorful costumes, lively dancing and joyful music fill the streets of New Orleans when the Mardi Gras Indians parade.
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  • Strutting and jumping and high-stepping beneath their decorated parasols – blowing whistles and waving feathered fans – New Orleans social aid and pleasure clubs unify communities and...
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  • Experience soulful music and lavish buffets at gospel brunches all over New Orleans. Learn the history, when and where to celebrate, here
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  • Second lining has been called "the quintessential New Orleans art form – a jazz funeral without a body.” At one time, second line parades were mostly associated with social aid and...
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  • The Steamboat Natchez plays its steam calliope every day. Listen out for this strange music on the Mississippi River.
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  • “Sylvain" was the city’s first opera performance, and New Orleans still has an Opera presence today. Click here to learn about the history of Opera.
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Famous New Orleans Musicians

  • New Orleans native, Charles “Buddy” Bolden, is considered the first person to ever play jazz. Click here to learn more about Buddy Bolden and his part in jazz's history.
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  • Jelly Roll Morton is regarded as the first true jazz composer. He was the first to write down his jazz arrangements – and a number of his compositions became jazz staples. 
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  • Louis Daniel "Satchmo" Armstrong was one of the best jazz musicians and greatest entertainment personalities the world has ever known. Learn more about his influence and legacy. 
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