Chicago Style Dixieland (the 1920s)

Notable Musician:   

Bix BeiderbeckeListen to Sample    Louis Armstrong And Earl HinesListen to Sample

The closing of Storyville in 1917, a district in New Orleans where a great number of musicians were employed, shifted the heart of jazz scene to Chicago. By 1918 many musicians had left New Orleans, and when Congress passed the Volstead Act in 1919, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, employment for jazz musicians in New Orleans came to a real halt. Quite a few jazz players drifted to Chicago.

To appreciate Chicago Style Dixieland, one must picture the times. It was the Roaring Twenties, what F. Scott Fitzgerald called "the Jazz Age." There were straw hats and arm bands, both Model T and Model A Fords as well as Stutz Bearcats, raccoon coats, and speakeasies. Gangsters ruled Chicago during this period, and with the musicians playing in the saloons, there is no question that these same racketeers had a great deal to say about the careers of the musicians.

In spite of the fact that Chicago was almost entirely in the hands of gangsters, these were happy times for general public. Everything seemed to be based on having fun. In fact, musicians today call Dixieland music "happy music." World War I was over, and the big stock market crash of 1929 was not even envisaged. Life seemed to be a party. New dances such as the Charleston and Black Bottom were invented to suit the new energetic music.