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Public Domain Jazz Music

Updated: Jan 19

Do you know what’s great about hosting a Jazz Dinner set in the 1920s? As opposed to, say, a Justin Bieber Dinner, you can get a TON of sheet music for free because it’s public domain.

Here’s a list of free music to get you started:

Public domain jazz music for your event.
Public domain jazz music lets you perform music without paying royalties.

“After You’ve Gone”

This song was a big hit in 1918. Composed by Turner Layton ​with lyrics by ​Henry Creamer, this song was recorded by Marion Harris. Harris was a prominent singer in the early 1920s, and she is known to be one of the first white singers to cover blues and jazz songs.

To hear a sample of the song and to get the free sheet music, you can check it out here.

“All By Myself”

There are many royalty free musical numbers you can include in your Jazz Dinner.

This 1921 hit was the brainchild of Irving Berlin, who wrote the music and lyrics. It really picked up speed when Betty Boop sang a snippet of it in the 1933 animated film Is My Palm Read. Bing Crosby also performed it in 1946 in the film Blue Skies.

It’s public domain now! Check it out here for a sample and free downloads of the music.

“Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home”

Charles Warfield composed the music and lyrics for this catchy blues song in 1919. Bessie Smith recorded it in 1923, which was top of the charts for four weeks in a row. It’s a jazz standard and has been featured in some modern films like Igor (2008) and Rendezvous in Chicago (2018).

To include this classic in your Jazz Dinner, check out the music here.

“Loveless Love (a.k.a Careless Love)”

Composed by W.C. Handy, this 1921 score is in the traditional blues style. It was heralded as the “Dixieland Standard.” Also performed by Bessie Smith in 1925, her gorgeous voice pushed this song into popularity.

If you want to see the sheet music for this tune, check it out here.

Public Domain Jazz Music

Public domain jazz music from the 1920s is free to use.

These are just some of the popular hits of the early 1920s, but if you would like to survey other popular songs in the 1920s by year, you can scroll through this page to find the perfect music for your Jazz Dinner. There are many free options; thanks to public domain projects, most are easily accessible.

Just make sure you give the songs a quick filter for 1920s slang. A “jelly roll” DOES NOT refer to Swiss Cake Rolls. Old people these days, am I right?

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