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- Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in black communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. Its African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation and the swung note. From its early development until the present day jazz has also incorporated music from American popular music. As the music has developed and spread around the world it has drawn on many different national, regional and local musical cultures giving rise, since its early 20th century American beginnings, to many distinctive styles: New Orleans jazz dating from the early 1910s, big band swing, Kansas City jazz and Gypsy jazz from the 1930s and 1940s, bebop from the mid-1940s and on down through West Coast jazz, cool jazz, avant-garde jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, Latin jazz in various forms, soul jazz, jazz fusion and jazz rock, smooth jazz, jazz-funk, punk jazz, acid jazz, ethno jazz, jazz rap, cyber jazz, Indo jazz, M-Base, nu jazz, urban jazz and other ways of playing the music.