In the years immediately following the horror of World War 1 (1914-18), society began to throw off many of its old inhibitions about public behaviour. Who cared about behaving "just so" when two years ago you had been up to your neck in mud and had watched the man beside you cut in half by a machine gun burst. After four years of hell, people were looking to enjoy themselves and didn't really care about "what the neighbours thought".
Popular music caught the tempo of the times and also underwent a shift in style and presentation. People were looking to get out and have a good time. They wanted to have places they could go where they could listen to music and get up and dance if the spirit moved them. The problem was the only dance music available that wasn't a waltz or a minuet, was being played by people who were the wrong colour.
There was a need for white musicians to play something a little bit more extravagant than the Dixieland jazz they had been playing up until then. Quite a few of the musicians came directly from the Minstrel Show circuit where they had been playing similar music for awhile and others from the pits of Vaudeville houses and Broadway stages.
According to Dutch music historian Hans Eekoff, it was in November of 1921 that a nine piece band called The California Ramblers gathered to record the song "The Sheik and Georgia Rose". For the next ten years they recorded for any label that would take them and under a variety of different names.
For about half the labels they went by the name The Golden Gate Orchestra, which for a bunch of guys from Ohio was an odd sort of name. But the thing for bands from the east in those days was to sound as exotic as possible and San Francesco, even then, was considered a little out there.
For all intents and purposes this was the first time African American music was taken off the stage and brought into the clubs for white audiences. Of course, they were all sanitized packages and played strictly by white musicians. The songs were primarily by people like Al Jolson who offered pale (so to speak) imitations of real jazz and blues music to make them acceptable for consumption by the elite of New York City looking to live it up.
Everything was tightly scored and arranged so as one musician said "bands and band members were completely interchangeable" – any player in those days could join a new band and be guaranteed of knowing exactly what notes he'd be required to play for each song. Even solos were carefully planned out and there was none of the improvisation we now associate with Jazz.