Program : 
Class of 27: The Heart of the Jazz Age

Cover for Life Magazine by John Held

The Jazz Age or as some called it the Roaring Twenties took off early in 1917 when jazz music became popular with young people, ripe for a hot new sound to dance to— a party to go with it—and a life very different from their parents' generation.


Between the Great War in 1918 and the Great Depression in 1929, the country went through big changes. The stock market tripled in value. The 'new media' industries of radio and recording came on strong. Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote novels with a daring, new and all-American voice.


In 1927 Charles Lindbergh made the first solo transatlantic flight to become an American hero— and the world's first media star. 'Lucky Lindy' was a household name and a dance called  the Lindy Hop was named after him. 1927 was the year of the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System, incorporated and got into the radio game. With an income topping $105,000,000, the richest man in America was Al Capone. And, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in one season, a record he held until 1961.


In 1927 groundbreaking musicians were beginning to hit their stride.


  • On Broadway Jerome Kern's landmark musical Show Boat opened.
  • 24-year-old cornetist Bix Beiderbecke joined the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and and the following year would reach the peak of his career.
  • Jelly Roll Morton recorded with his innovative band, the Red Hot Peppers and became a top-selling artist for the Victor label.
  • 26-year-old Louis Armstrong made influential recordings with his group, the Hot 7.
  • Duke Ellington began his legendary tenure at the Harlem nightclub, the Cotton Club.
  • 17-year-old Benny Goodman made his first recording, "He's the Last Word."


Photo credit for home page teaser image: Art of the Jazz Age. Image courtesy