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Chicago and New York as Focal Points in Jazz in the 1920's

            The 1920s was an exciting decade for America. New things were being made constantly, people were happy, and investors were wealthy from the booming stock market. This decade was also known as the Jazz Era. Before the twenties, music was flourishing in the Crescent City, New Orleans. Musicians were innovating new styles and forms all the time. It is in New Orleans that many people claim that Jazz was born. However, On November 12, 1917, Storyville, an area of New Orleans known for its music, was forced to shut down on orders from the War and Navy Department ("Jazz in Chicago"). America had entered World War I and they were closing the port in New Orleans. This event caused a general exodus of musicians from New Orleans to the north. On their journey northward, some musicians lingered in Memphis and St. Louis, but it was Chicago and New York that experienced the biggest immigration of musicians and it was these two cities that would have the most influence on Jazz in this new Jazz Era.
             Chicago created a good home for these migrating musicians for several reasons. In Chicago, there was a growing African-American population due to good paying stockyard and steel mill jobs. Also, with Prohibition in full swing, Chicago became headquarters for many bootleggers. With the thriving night-life, it was more than easy for musicians to find work in the city. It was also in Chicago nightclubs that small three or four man groups were playing much the same kind of music played in New Orleans before the closing of Storyville.
             Chicago was home primarily for New Orleans traditional music during the Jazz Age. From this style four major types of jazz sprouted: Boogie-woogie, Chicago Jazz, Urban Blues, and Society Dance Bands. As mentioned before, the thriving night life guaranteed these musicians work, but the popularity of phonograph recordings also provided a huge boost to the music industry during the 1920's (Davis 109).

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