A bright and brassy jazz style typical of the southern US, especially New Orleans, in the first half of the 20th century. Dixieland jazz is related to ragtime, a somewhat earlier style.

Dixieland jazz is typically played by an ensemble including a banjo and lots of brass (a trombone and trumpet at the very least). Think of the jazzy versions of "When the Saints Go Marching In", a classic of Dixieland jazz, and you'll understand what Dixieland sounds like.


Dixieland is one of the true old-style Jazz varieties, which developed mainly in Chicago in the mid-20s. The music style is very characteristic - a sort of mixture between Classic Jazz and New Orleans jazz. The style has also been dubbed Chicago jazz.

The style is famous for beginning with collective improvisation, with the song usually "evolving" into famous tunes - often ragtime, Swing or classic jazz licks.

Dixieland had a revival in the 50s - it became a major fad that quickly faded away, because the musical prestations were eclipsed by sillyness (Straw hats, silly dances, colorful suspenders and other disturbances)

The look:

Instruments that were frequently in use included brass instruments, saxophones and banjos(!)

The feel:

Dixieland has a much more playful feel to it than traditional jazz has. The tunes are more joyful and the rhythmic banjos n the background (playing much of the same role as rhythm guitars have in modern rock music) enforce this feel even more. The improvisations are usually short, deliberate and stacatto tones rather than the fast, flowing "shape" that regular Jazz tends to have.

A "standard" Dixieland tune (if there is such a thing) has a lead instrument that gets the band going. Usually, the lead instrument plays around for a bit, with the drums and bass (and other intstruments) following quickly afterwards. More often than not, the tune takes shape of a famous tune (as mentioned). Solos are usually short (2-4 bars) and follow each other in quick sucession. A solo usually imitates a part of the previous solo, and adds something new (you get a relay race feeling, really).

Important artists:


(thank you, DejaMorgana for suggesting improvements to this node)


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