HARLEM JAZZ

Southerners on the Move 1920s
Harlem 1915
Southerners moving into North

Harlem, located in Manhattan, north of Central Park in New York, was a very important place in the 1920s & 30s, many talented well-educated African Americans lived there. It was also home to the headquarters of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, NAACP, promoting civil rights for Black people. 

The National Urban League founded in 1910, was there to assist Black Americans newly arrived from the Southern states. Marcus Garvey organisation, the Universal Negro Improvement Association UNIA, was based in Harlem from 1916, under the local banner known as the ‘New Negro Era.’ 

U.N.I.A. Parade in Harlem 1920.

Harlem 1920s

All three organisations published magazines, newspapers, and periodicals featuring articles and literary works by African Americans. The publications assisted all Americans to become aware of the rich cultural arena in Harlem. People all over the United States and abroad, we’re drawn to the exciting exotic nightlife there.

The large number of talented African Americans living in Harlem, propelled an audience base for the many jazz clubs to thrive, and provided businesses with a steady income. People of all races and backgrounds went to Harlem, to see live shows, performances, dine and dance to music.

Painting of a Harlem Neighbourhood

Jazz music became known as a highly sophisticated art form. The Harlem Creative Cultural Renaissance brought together literary, dramatic, artistic, and musical works in one specific area, and to the attention of the world. Especially so in Paris, France. 

For more than 60 years, the Harlem Renaissance was about giving voice to the experiences of African Americans. Jazz a unique, authentic, original music, conceived through the fusion of African and European music traditions, was born out of Black experiences in America. 

HARLEM JAZZ PIONEERS

Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong
Ewdard ‘Duke’ Ellington
Ethel Waters

Although most of the early creative pioneers of Jazz were musicians from New Orleans. During the Roaring 1920 and 1930s, Harlem became the Capital, Epicentre and Cultural Renaissance for African Americans.

Bessie Smith
Cab Calloway
Count Basie

Fats Waller
Nat ‘King’ Cole

The Nicholas Brothers 1920s

The explosions of creativity in music and dance were rooted there, and continued worldwide to the present moment.

Dizzy Gillespie
Billie Holiday

Cab Calloway & Band

BIG BANDS & ORCHESTRAS

Jazz began and came to us from Communities of Musicians working together, in order and with responsibility for each other, to search, find, and express deep-seated emotions about everything and anything.

Duke Ellington & Band at the Cotton Club 1920s
Count Basie Orchestra
Fletcher Henderson Band 1930s