Kansas City, one of the principal cradles of jazz along with New York, New Orleans and Chicago, bred a number of nationally significant big bands and a legion of talented soloists, who revolutionized jazz in America. These musicians belonged to Local No. 627, one of a handful of African-American musicians unions affiliated with the American Federation of Musicians.
Established in 1917, Local 627, then known as the "Colored Musicians Union," operated as a social center, a clearinghouse for engagements, and as a vehicle for grievances against unfair practices by booking agents and band leaders. The jazz style pioneered and fostered by the members of Local 627 developed along original lines influenced by, yet unique from, the traditions of New Orleans, Chicago and New York.