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International Jazz Day



All That Jazz
Print All That Jazz Reading Comprehension


Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.2

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Satchmo, unrestrained, bandleader, cornet, instrumental, banjo, tribal, dealt, ragtime, heavily, composer, improvisation, spontaneous, spur, regard, distinctly
     content words:    George Gershwin, Buddy Bolden, New Orleans, While Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St, Lil Hardin-Armstrong, Famous Jazz Musicians Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker
All That Jazz

By Brenda B. Covert
1     Jazz - made in America. It's an upbeat, unrestrained type of music that makes your feet tap and your fingers snap. Its origins date back to the late 1800s. It combined elements of (1) the spirituals and field hollers of plantation slave workers; (2) ragtime; (3) brass band sounds; and (4) music known as the blues. It had roots in African tribal music. Spirituals and blues music often dealt with personal problems, such as difficult working conditions, loneliness, love, poverty, and death. Jazz could be instrumental or with vocals - that is, the music could come only from the instruments being played, or it could come from instruments with lyrics that were sung.
 
2     New Orleans is recognized as the birthplace of jazz. Jazz bands were made up of a combination of drums, trumpets, guitars, saxophones, clarinets, trombones, and/or piano. Although jazz combined elements of ragtime, brass band music, and the blues, it was distinctly different. Jazz musicians made good use of improvisation (composing music on the spur of the moment). Where other forms of music required the musician to follow the written music, musicians who favored jazz could "do their own thing." Many of the first jazz musicians couldn't even read music. They played by ear and turned old songs into something new and improved! Their spontaneous music, with its heavily accented rhythms, revealed a sense of joy and excitement that audiences loved.
 
3     George Gershwin, a great American composer who died at a young age in 1937, said, "Jazz I regard as an American folk music." Another time he said of jazz, "This is the type of music I want to write." He got his start composing music for Broadway before moving on to Hollywood. He wrote a number of songs that are now considered classics, such as Rhapsody in Blue, Someone to Watch over Me, and music from his American opera, Porgy and Bess.
 
4     Buddy Bolden was a cornet player and bandleader. Born in 1878, he is considered by historians to be the first jazz musician. His band played in New Orleans parades and dances and went on to become one of the most popular bands in the city. It was said "his trumpet could be heard all over New Orleans, and even across the river in Algiers."
 
5     Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, also from New Orleans, was probably the greatest jazz musician of all time; he had an amazingly quick, inventive musical mind. He was the bandleader for the "Hot Five." While Armstrong played the cornet, his band also featured Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny St. Cyr on banjo, and Louis' wife, Lil Hardin-Armstrong, on piano.
 
6     See if you recognize any of these names of famous jazz musicians and singers. Check out their music at your local library. Get into jazz!
 
7     Famous Jazz Musicians
 
8     Louis Armstrong, (1901-1971)

Paragraphs 9 to 21:
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