The term "jazz" (early on often spelled "jass") did not become popular until the mid and late 1910s, when New Orleans musicians first rose to prominence in other parts of the USA and the New Orleans style needed a new name to differentiate it from the nationally popular ragtime. Before then, the New Orleans style was frequently simply called "ragtime" (Sidney Bechet continued to call his music "ragtime" throughout his life), along with such local terms as "hot music" and "ratty music".
The local New Orleans dance music style was already distinctive in the 19th century. When this style became what was later known as "jazz" remains a matter of debate and definition, although most New Orleans music historians believe what became known as New Orleans style jazz was the product of a series of developments, probably reaching it's famous form no earlier than the 1890s and no later than the mid 1910s.
By the 1890s a man by the name of Poree hired a band led by cornetist Buddy Bolden, many of whose contemporaries as well as many jazz historians consider to be the first prominent jazzmusician. The music was not called jazz at this time, consisting of marching band music with brass instruments and dancing. If anything, Bolden could be said to have been a blues player. The actual term "jazz" was first "jass", the etymology of which is still not entirely clear. The connotation is sexual in nature, as many of the early performers played in rough working class venues. Despite colorful stories of mid-20th century writers, the prostitution district known as Storyville was no more important in the development of the music than the city's other neighborhoods, but did play a role in exposing some out of town visitors to the style. Many instruments used were often acquired second-hand at pawn shops, including used military band instruments.
The Creole people of New Orleans also contributed greatly to the evolution of the artform, though their own music became heavily influenced by...