New Orleans jazz legend Donald Harrison plays his jazz version of "When the Saints Go Marching In."
New Orleans jazz legend Donald Harrison plays his jazz version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Photo: Dinah Rogers, For The Tennessean, Illustration: Andrea Brunty, USA TODAY Network

As the National Museum of African American Music opens its doors, journalists from the USA TODAY Network explore the stories, places and people who helped make music what it is today in our expansive series, Hallowed Sound.

Jazz is a genre of performances, not songs. Created in the moment through improvisation, every time a song is played it is different. These 25 recordings trace this quintessential American art’s century-long history: from the early days in New Orleans, to the swing era, onto the heady period of bebop, the controlled chaos of free jazz, fusion’s blend of jazz with rock and R&B and finally to the stars of today.

Play on Spotify: Click here to listen to these songs and more

‘King Porter Stomp’

The New Orleans pianist would claim that he invented jazz. Without a doubt, he helped create the sound of jazz piano. Benny Goodman and his band later had a hit with their recording of this Morton song.

‘West End Blues’