The period from the end of World War I until the start of the Great Depression is known as the “Jazz Age.” It was a time of music, fashion, and change, as the “new woman” of the 1920s was seen as having more freedom to move, participate, and behave as she chose, rejecting an earlier generation of rules and conventions. Flappers was the name given to women who embraced the new fashion style, wearing shorter skirts and bobbed hair, frequenting dance halls and speakeasies while driving cars, drinking, smoking and dating.

Jazz has a long, rich history in the United States. It originated in the African American communities of the south in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, developing from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as “America’s classical music.” According to the National Museum of American History:

New Orleans, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, played a key role in this development. The city’s population was more diverse than anywhere else in the South, and people of African, French, Caribbean, Italian, German, Mexican, and American Indian, as well as English, descent interacted with one another. African-American musical traditions mixed with others and gradually jazz emerged from a blend of ragtime, marches, blues, and other kinds of music. At first jazz was mostly for dancing. (In later years, people would sit and listen to it.) After the first recordings of jazz were made in 1917, the music spread widely and developed rapidly.

In keeping with its mission to promote the arts and humanities, the Fairfield Museum is showcasing regional jazz artists every Friday in August from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jazz Fridays, sponsored by Bank of America, the CT Office of the Arts, WPKN, and Alan & Sylvia Neigher, continues this week, August 23rd with Jen Durkin and her jazz ensemble comprised of members of her band “The Business.” Durkin is a Fairfield-based vocalist who got her start attending Berklee College of Music. She then movied to New York City, where she studied a broad range of musical styles, from gospel to blue to funk and, of course, jazz. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic and a chair or blanket. The concerts take place rain or shine, and will be moved indoors in case of inclement weather.

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The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit