Jazz | Gullah Music - Episode 7


Jazz music was born out of the blues. The key element was syncopation (syn-co-pa-tion) that stressed the off beats of the rhythm. In the same way that Gullah language is a mixture of African and European languages, jazz is a combination of African and European music. Although New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz, South Carolina also has a great jazz history.

Beginning in the 1890s, the instructors at the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston taught African American children to read and play music. The boys performed in traveling bands that raised money for the institution. When they became adults, many including Jabbo Smith, Cat Anderson and Freddie Green played in jazz bands led by famous leaders like Duke Ellington and Count Basie. South Carolina was also home to trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, one of the most well-known and talented musicians in jazz history. He helped to develop two new jazz styles, Bebop and Afro-Cuban Jazz.