Jazz was introduced to Britain by the racially integrated Original Dixieland Jass Band, who toured there in 1919. As pertains to the milieu and period of Downton Abbey, it appears that the preferred terms for British popular music aficionados in the 1920s were "hot" or "straight" dance music as opposed to "jazz."
Of course the hot rhythms and syncopations of jazz pioneers like Morton and Armstrong were assimilated on Broadway by popular music composers like Berlin, Gershwin, and Porter. What is now called "swing" originated as a number of different dance styles in the 1920s and '30s, primarily in black communities in New York. In fact, one can safely say that almost all of the popular dances of the era originated with African Americans: Cakewalk, The Turkey Trot, The Fox Trot, the Bunny Hug, the Two-Step, The Black Bottom, the Charleston, et al. Below is Clarence Williams' Blues Five's 1925 recording of "Cakewalking Babies From Home"as well as a few vintage photographs illustrating the theme "ain't we got fun?"
|Chorus girls at Harlem's Apollo Theater demonstrate their Terpsichorean ebullience|
|Josephine Baker, the doyenne of Parisian nightlife, gets jiggy with the Charleston|
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Pop quiz: 1) What is the Gershwin song that has been used countless times by jazz musicians for improvisations on its chord changes?
2) What are the two songs Jack Ross sings in Downton Abbey?
1) "I've Got Rhythm"
2) "April Showers" and "I'm Just Wild About Harry"
The latter is kind of a weird song for a guy to sing. But perchance he has hidden depths, as illustrated in this vintage photo.