Jazz was born in New Orleans, shaped in the early twentieth century by the twin talents of Louis Armstrong and Joe “King” Oliver from a diverse heritage of African and Caribbean slave music, Civil War brass bands, plantation spirituals, black church music and work songs. In 1897, in an attempt to control the prostitution that had been rampant in the city since its earliest days, a law was passed that restricted the brothels to a fixed area bounded by Iberville and Basin streets. The area, which soon became known as Storyville, after the alderman who pronounced the ordinance, filled with newly arrived ex-plantation workers, seamen and gamblers, and, from the “mood-setting” tunes played in the brothels to bawdy saloon gigs, there was plenty of opportunity for musicians, in particular the solo piano players known as “professors”, to develop personal styles. Nowadays jazz remains an evolving, organic art form, and you’re spoilt for choice for places to hear it, whether in Second Lines, at the city’s many festivals, in dive bars or sophisticated lounges.

At the heart of it all are the brass bands. Although these have been integral to New Orleans’s street music and parade culture since the nineteenth century, their resurgence in the 1990s led to an explosion of energy on the local jazz scene. Young, ragtag groups blast out a joyful, improvised and danceable cacophony of horns – a kind of homegrown party music that goes down as much of a storm in the student bars as on the backstreet parades. Favourites include ReBirth, the Soul Rebels and the Stooges, who mix trad brass stylings with hard funk, hip-hop, carnival music and reggae. The more traditional bands, meanwhile, whose line-up will typically include old hands and up-and-coming youngsters, play music that is just as danceable and equally popular.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Podcast: the Black Masking Indians of New Orleans

Podcast: the Black Masking Indians of New Orleans

In 18th-century Louisiana, escapee African slaves would make a break for the bayous. Here they might encounter Native Americans and occasionally find asylum wit…

10 Sep 2018 • Rough Guides Editors volume_up Podcast
The best day-trips from San Francisco

The best day-trips from San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge, rows of colourful Victorian houses, trams chuntering up steep hills: San Francisco is a city full of iconic sights. But it's worth teari…

15 Aug 2018 • Rebecca Hallett insert_drive_file Article
Stargazing in Utah: a postcard from Antelope Island

Stargazing in Utah: a postcard from Antelope Island

Following the USA’s total solar eclipse in 2017, 'astrotourism' is big news. And the growing global light pollution problem means so-called 'dark sky parks' a…

03 Aug 2018 • Jacqui Agate insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs