There is broad agreement that jazz emerged spontaneously in New Orleans, and quickly spread across the United States. In the early 'twenties, jazz music sprang up wherever there were concentrations of African Americans, most of whom had migrated from the South. Jazz rapidly went on to become one of the richest and most vital musical traditions of the twentieth century.

Rooted in folk blues, ragtime and the European musical mainstream, jazz is considered as that country's first home-grown idiom. A powerful influence, after Negro spirituals and gospel songs, was the blues, a rural musical form shaped by the African American migration to the big cities of the North at the end of the nineteenth century. Jazz took its first halting steps under the influence of the racial segregation then dominant in the U.S.

Perhaps the first jazz musicians were those who earned a living performing in small marching bands. Their instruments became those basic to early jazz: brass, reeds and drums. With the end of World War I, and the surplus of instruments from military bands, the movement grew broader and deeper.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917
The appearance of phonograph recordings helped spread the new music even further afield. The official birth of jazz dates back to 1917, when the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (O.D.J.B.) cut its first recording. With prohibition (1919-1933) and constitutional amendments outlawing the sale of alcoholic beverages in the U.S., legitimate bars and music halls closed their doors, to be replaced by thousands of underground bars and speakeasies where people could go to drink and listen to music. The music they listened to was mostly jazz.

The New Orleans style is characterized by a complex polyphonic structure organized around a principal voice, and by syncopated rhythms over a mililary march beat. What sets this musical style apart is its original instrumentation, composed essentially of wind instruments (trumpet, clarinet, trombone, tuba, and later saxophone), and drums, to which string instruments such as the violin and, above all, the banjo and guitar, were often added.

Since 1979, Le Dixieband has perpetuated this high-spirited, dynamic style with an enthusiasm all its own.