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Fifty Smithsonian Treasures Featuring Jazz

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Jazz grew out of African American culture as it developed in the southern United States during the nineteenth Century. It became intertwined with many other musical traditions, including Hispanic and Euro-American styles.

Since its beginnings, jazz has thrived on improvisation and change. Its greatest musicians have extended the technical and emotional ranges of their instruments and created new musical styles like bebop. On the bandstand and concert stage, these inspired innovators have taken musical risks and created a legacy of  enduring recordings. Chance has influenced virtually every other style of 20th Century American music. It has become recognized as one of our country's greatest cultural achievements.