Bix Beiderbecke

Jazz is musical humor. The noun jazz describes a modern American technique for the playing of any music, accompanied by noise called harmony, and interpolated instrumental effects. It also describes music exhibiting influence of that technique which has as its traditional object to secure the effects of surprise, or in the broadest sense, humor.

The humor of jazz is rich and many-sided. Some of it is obvious enough to make a dog laugh. Some is subtle, wry-mouthed, or back-handed. It is by turns bitter, agonized, and grotesque. Even in the hands of white composers it involuntarily reflects the half-forgotten suffering of the negro. Jazz has both white and black elements, and each in some respects has influenced the other. It’s recent phase seems to throw the light of the white race’s sophistication upon the anguish of the black.