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Just like the city of New Orleans, jazz is a musical melting pot with African, Afro-Cuban, European and even Native American influences. The development of jazz dates back before Storyville (the red-light district of New Orleans from 1897 to 1917), but it became widely known only in the era when jazz musicians from across the city met to play in the sporting houses and bars of the district. Jazz guests such as Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Kid Ory and Bunk Johnson, and, some say, even Louis Armstrong as a teenager, were hired to play in the sporting houses. In 1914, for example, statistics show that Storyville supported 750 working women, 300 pimps, 200 musicians, 500 domestic workers and 150 saloon employees.
When Storyville was uprooted, in 1917, many of the musicians went upriver to St. Louis and Chicago to find work, taking with them that bawdy New Orleans sound that would eventually be recognized as the only indigenous American music. To identify jazz with Storyville alone is, however, not historically accurate, for there were many places in New Orleans outside the district where the music was created, played and refined.
Jazz is an intrinsic part of New Orleans, and the city comes alive after sundown with smoky jazz and pleasure-seekers. Popular jazz joints to check out include Palm Court Jazz Café, The Polo Club Lounge inside the Windsor Court Hotel, Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street and Preservation Hall. Of course this is by far not a complete list of New Orleans jazz venues and nightclubs, but the selection does serve as an excellent starting point.