Before 1900, black musicians in New Orleans (a city with a rich international heritage) were playing upbeat music that was called “hot blues,” and that eventually came to be known as jazz.
Jazz came about from the mixing of several types of music: spirituals, blues, ragtime, and gospel. It was spontaneous music; musicians played around with different styles, adding their own original ideas to a basic musical framework in a process known as improvisation.
Many people consider jazz to be the most unique form of creative expression ever to come out of American culture. It continues to be popular today.