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The birth of Jazz can be traced to the 1890s in the southern city of New Orleans, USA. African-Americans combined the energy and rhythms of African music with the sounds and instruments of the West - heralding the birth of a totally new style of music.

Initially condemned as "The Devil's Music", Jazz stood ground and soon spread across the United States and the world. Its power to dazzle audiences has long been associated with brilliant instrumentalists such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. But along with these famous players, women singers such as Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday emerged as important musicians.

In the 1930s, dance band leaders Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller brought in a new style of Jazz called "Swing" to a much wider audience. After the Second World War, increasingly complex music was developed by pioneers like Charlie 'Bird' Parker and Miles Davis. Today all Jazz styles - from traditional New Orleans to the most recent Jazz-Rock - remain popular.