Roots of jazz; Chicago: Austin High Gang
The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. A series of programs on the roots of united in this program we trace the activities of the Chicago school.
The jazz music of Chicago focuses on the year one thousand twenty two. In that year the New Orleans Rhythm Kings were at Friar's in. In that year. Louis Armstrong joined King Oliver in 1920 to Bix Beiderbecke was playing around Chicago and the Wolverines were in the offing. In 1922. A group of neophyte musicians most of whom attended the Austin High School were working over their music and listening to records. And they were soon to form a band.
The Austin High School was out in Chicago's West and it was a buff brick building so much like any number of others that it is difficult to describe in this building. A number of boys met who might have gone on to college except for their interest in music. They all played the violin except one. He wanted to play drums but he ended up playing the saxophone. There were five boys all interested in music and they eventually became the nucleus of a driving force in jazz history. They were the Austin High gang drawn together by a common ambition. They went as a group to theatres parties and restaurants. Coming from comfortable middle class homes they could in the beginning pursue their musical ambitions as a hobby. A circumstance that gave them much more freedom of choice than would have been the case with a different background. At that time the Al Jolson orchestra heard in a local theater was their inspiration. Though it was not to last long. It did however give them the incentive they needed and
they improved rapidly. Soon they were good enough to play at the afternoon high school dances that were becoming popular in Chicago. These dances would usually from three until about 5:30 had the endorsement of The Parent Teachers Association. No doubt on the theory that they were a healthy social outlet for youthful energies across the street from Austin High was an ice cream parlor known as the spoon and straw. And on Nickelodeon the Austin High boys first heard the music of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in an old blues called Tin Roof. And that was the direction signal for these boys. Later they heard recordings of Bix and the Wolverines. Before long they were buying every record they could. Wearing them out going to Friar's in the set and listen and occasionally play a chorus and hearing all they could of the horn of. By today they gave up the violins and formed a band and we had Jimmy McPartland on Korn at his brother Dick on banjo and guitar. Jim Lanigan on piano and
bass Bud Freeman and C Melody sax and Frank on clarinet. The two influences of their musical life were the New Orleans Rhythm Kings at friars inn and Becks and his Wolverines. They named their first orchestra the blue friars in honor of the one and eventually they replaced every member of the wolverine orchestra playing honoring the second. Yeah.
Yeah. Wow. Wow. And here are the woods of Charles Edward Smith in his book Jasmine in the Austin gang the oldest boys Jim Lanigan and Dick McPartland were best grounded in theory although Jim was jazz crazy with the rest of them. He wasn't sure that he always wanted to play in jazz bands. He'd watched and listened to the
foundation work of a contra bass in a symphony orchestra. And this had become the measure of his ambition. Jimmy McPartland on the other hand wouldn't trade his jazz cornet for the best symphony job and some athletic That was a sturdy quality and his ambition that showed in his personality and Tesh. Well you couldn't to this day get an accurate word picture of him. He was of medium height. Blonde and outwardly quiet he had a full mouth a long upper lip slightly snub nose high rounded forehead and brooding eyes that were often hidden by glasses. He was patient and impatient by turns. Some said this was because of his extreme sensitivity. Others insisted there were those two sides to his nature. Whatever it was Tash remained to the end. The white haired boy of the Austin High School gang the one they listened to and the one they followed. They played at high school dances at the homes of fellow students. They played for supper often nothing at all. They sponsored their own dances in pop of
aliens charging fifty cents admission. They met Dave tough and the young Benny Goodman and pianist Joe Sullivan at places like Lewis Institute and Floyd O'Brien was found at the University of Chicago. Eventually the Chicago school of jazz met any of these names. Plus the music of clarinetists Mez Mesereau and Fred Livingston pianist Jess Stacey trombonist Jack T gotten Eddie Condon and Gene Krupa. These men were not all from Chicago but musically they either contributed to 0 or influenced by the music of the pivotal group of Chicago jazz. The Austin High boys. Max Kaminski came from Boston. Russell from St. Louis. Danny Polo was playing around the Windy City while the Austin High boys were presumably still studying violin. The same is true of middle register virtuoso Muggsy Spanier. Just Stacey came up the river from Cape Girardeau Missouri Jack Teagarden from
Texas the impresario red McKenzie came from St. Louis where he began as a jockey and a lot of day impresario Eddie Condon came from Indiana and jobbed around Iowa with Peavey's jazz band it's when he known came from New Orleans a con artist would want to add to these. The Wolverines with pics from Davenport Iowa and you've got almost all of Chicago Jazz and most of them are still playing. They didn't come from Chicago but their music did.
Another way of telling this story would have been to tell the story of Frank Tosh my first Charles Edward Smith said. Cash remains and the white head boy of the Austin High School game and the end came for Tash as it had for Becks in the early 1930s when he was killed in an automobile accident. And with the death of cash or coincident with it Chicago jazz changed or went underground or disappeared except on records. It was a strange jazz musician. There are almost as many legends concerning him as there are about. There is not however a unanimity concerning his current at play but we'll let you judge that for yourself. Here is his solo on blue.
And the Austin High boy who filled the big shoes of Bix in the rain orchestra in New York was Jimmy McPartland Jimmy played a cornet and he played very much like big though his ideas were not nearly as graceful. His tone was big and his movement too. And here he is playing with Tash Freeman Sullivan Condon and Krupa in the year one thousand twenty seven.
And of course we can't forget Muggsy Spanier. He had been playing cornet around Chicago all through the 20s and he played with and the rest of the Chicago. But his big time was to come 10 years later when he was to revive Chicago Jazz and stylized Dixie. Another of the Chicago school who who was befriended of cash was the Des Moines clarinetist rod class and 10 years later his name was to be linked with Mugsy but Mugsy played in the 20s. And here is one of the unusual stories about Chicago jazz. The rhythmic breadth of Chicago musicians can be heard in the first record made together by Mugsy and Tesh. Charles Pierce was a South Side but you're in Chicago who love jazz and implemented that love by using the money he made from meat to support a first rate jazz band which played weekends and made records. In October of 1987 Pierce took Mugsy and Tash and seven other musicians including himself on saxophone into the Paramount Studios in
Chicago to make their memorable bullfrog blues. China boy and nobody sweetheart. On all these sides there is a drive the rhythmic integration stringing solos together. And here are the words of Frederick Ramsey Jr. the Charles Pierce records are touchstones to Chicago Jazz development while at times hesitant and fumbling. All musicians present show themselves grasping something different in the way of jazz a new beat and different concept of solo and ensemble work.
Two months later Eddie Condon And Redd McKenzie promoted the Chicagoans into another recording studio and they made a recording of nobody sweetheart which is distinguished by the work of tosh Micah in a new department of music. Here is the way Barry Ulanov speaks of it. They played nobody's sweetheart again as well as sugared China boy and they played with the abaya and inevitable that such a breeze union of musicians standing on soapboxes they poured all they had learned into the recording microphone and it was much. The beat was almost an even four for the ensemble with both fluid and clean Gene Krupa. Then just moving into the select circle was a native Chicago one who showed at 18 as later a considerable technical skill but a heaviness as well. Frank Tessmacher who scored several of the ensemble passages showed especially in the brilliant Middle Passage of nobody sweetheart that he was moving along in his jazz ideas and had gone past the point at which only
unscarred improvisation was acceptable. And here is nobody sweetheart.
OK. By nineteen twenty nine. Two events had occurred which brought about the end of the jazz age and Chicago Jazz and for a time practically all jazz as far as the listening public was concerned. The musicians still jammed away in private but the money what little of it that there had ever been was now gone completely. Here is how Barry Ulanov describes the situation. When the depression came in 1929 the great years of Chicago Jazz were over although Tesh continued to play until his death in 1932 with the
coming of radio the name Band Era inaugurated during the peak recording years was fully underway. Popular tunes novelty act and the bands associated with them had caught the public's fancy and there wasn't much of an audience for the little groups that played the big jazz. Tash spent most of his last three years of his life playing with bands like those of Jan Garber and Ted Lewis and Charles Edward Smith comments on those last three years of Tasha's life Tesh is often pictured as having been a musical hermit at this period in his life. Of course that was not so. He played jam sessions with such friends as known and Johnny Dodds. He was married too and happily so. But music was always an important part of his life. He saw a lot of Rod class with whom we had become friendly in Des Moines and he jammed with younger musicians such as Joe Marsala at home. He played Holst the planets much as Bex played Deb you see his own records. He played repeatedly always listening closely here both
his tenacity and his humility were apparent. A chorus might sound a little off or the tone not quite right as the conviction grew that something was wrong. Tash would lay the record aside take it up again play it through once or twice more and then smash it deliberately. Because Tash had natural talent some of his friends were inclined to over estimate it and assume that he came by the style as you and I breathe or walk or talk. Seeing him with the clarinet held carelessly to his lips notes tumbling out spreading in broad crescendos that cut through the noise of a crowded hall. It did look spontaneous but he practiced continually and listened critically to his own playing. That was Tash and that was the spirit of the Chicago style that it was a melodic and rhythmic style having its own measurable qualities may be determined by listening to records that had a perceptible influence on subsequent hot music will hardly be questioned.
The Chicagoans all joined the big bands and dissipated in anonymity for the yearly years of the 30s and Tash disappeared forever. The year was 1932. Tash had a deathly fear of automobiles. He hated to write it. And one night as he and Wild Bill Davidson were driving to a job a truck hit their car and Tosh was thrown out and killed. His life ended as his music had three years earlier by a force uncontrollable by himself. Congo style jazz grew out of the negro and like music.
It grew out of the musicianship of a dozen Chicago youngsters at the feet of Jimi knew. Listen to records of the New Orleans rhythm King and pinch hit in the early morning hours. It grew out of music on the river boats by Bix Beiderbecke. It grew on the foundations laid by King all of Louis Armstrong and all that went before. It was the same and it was different. It was the old way and it was something new. And then I suppose. The roots of jazz in the United States. The next program will tell of the piano jazz music the roots of jazz is written and produced by Norman Cleary. Technician. And this is Norman speak.
- Roots of jazz
- Chicago: Austin High Gang
- Producing Organization
- Iowa State University
- WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program traces the activities of the founders of the Chicago school of jazz.
- Other Description
- Music-documentary series in 26 parts, covering various aspects of jazz.
- Broadcast Date
- Jazz--Illinois--Chicago--History and criticism.
- Media type
Director: Cleary, Norman
Engineer: Vogel, Dick
Host: Clark, Kenneth Bancroft, 1914-2005
Producing Organization: Iowa State University
Producing Organization: WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Speaker: Geesy, Ray
Writer: Cleary, Norman
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-24-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Roots of jazz; Chicago: Austin High Gang,” 1956-09-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 29, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-69700x1c.
- MLA: “Roots of jazz; Chicago: Austin High Gang.” 1956-09-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 29, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-69700x1c>.
- APA: Roots of jazz; Chicago: Austin High Gang. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-69700x1c