This chapter aims to emphasize that jazz is a music whose nature and growth has been crucially shaped by the ways in which musicians who think of themselves as jazz musicians react to the music of other musicians who play jazz. It divides jazz music and musicians into three distinct generations, beginning with the likes of Jelly Roll Morton and Bessie Smith who were key participants in and witnesses to the process whereby jazz came to be, and came to be regarded as, a self-sustaining form of music. The likes of Art Tatum and Johnny Hodges belonged to the second generation, the members of which clearly knew of and were reacting to the first generation. The third generation is itself divided into those who found themselves making music that virtually had to be called modern jazz in relation to what had come before and those who did not cross the temperamental and stylistic divide into self-conscious modernism.
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