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The evolution of jazz. A survey of American art form from Scott Joplin to Will any interest on. The evolution of jazz. The tape recorded feature presented under the auspices of Northeastern University by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council Nat Hentoff associate editor of Downbeat Magazine discusses the growth of jazz from its roots in Europe and Africa and considers the musical as well as the sociological forces that shaped it. Mr Hentoff last week during the course of the discussion on Chicago Jazz I played some of the recordings made in Chicago by New Orleans musicians in the early and mid 20s. I thought you might be interested in a description of the kind of recording sessions that occurred as described by Frederick Ramsay Jr.. For one thing
the record companies at first were uncertain as to whether these records would sell. And the added complication of rather primitive recording equipment made the sessions and unpredictable adventure the actual recording machinery of the smaller companies in jazz was recorded mostly on those small labels. Was often haywire in the literal sense by chunks of the equipment were held together by strands of bailing wire. The Paramount technician was interviewed a short while ago in his early recording where he said that in those days they often ran short of materials for pressing and threw some hay into the wax to make it stretch far enough and we should feel fortunate that the records are still able to be heard. Many of these studios are using the to. Him with a rather liberal looseness. We're out in the country and a visitor could look right through the back window a green field stretching out flat to the horizon. The machinery hold up pretty well out
of the ordinary recordings of tenors and singing bird acts and barbershop quartet that with a reliable in every day business of these companies the brasses were very hard on the mechanism especially when fast vibrations occur and this caused the needle to jump right out of the groove. As for low frequency vibrations like those from a string bass they just went on about on the recordings of that period. It's not hard to reconstruct the first King Oliver recording session the band probably tramped into the studio with a dazzling array of gleaming instruments. Well when Joe carried a pair of those polished short coronets when the engineer handed them the instruction sheet. Listen to tray warm up with a few glasses on a slide trombone. Well dogs answered with a run from his clarinet. He saw that I'm strong enough to some a rock take her place at the piano and baby dogs unpacked his big bass drum. Those horns and the engineers said a little doubtfully won't they be pretty loud now. Since Joe Oliver was so powerful we will horn out of tune every two months the engineer decided to move all the brass was a healthy distance
from his delicate machinery. Well Johnson hadn't brought a bass along because they all knew it wouldn't record. Instead he had a banjo and the engineer plays banjo and drums near the Horn. They were ready for the first test. The first tests were rather terrific but the brass was still far too loud. So the engineer moved Louis back 30 paces from the horn and the rest was solid work and they all went at it high and we heard the result in the first session last week in snake rag and in an earlier version of the diplomatic blues. Those records which King Oliver and his Creole Jazz band recorded on that day for Janet and the other sides made for Paramount OK and Columbia are milestones in jazz history and the Creole bands records are advertised for sale in the spring of 1923 the effect was of a long pent up pressure which had finally broken loose. It began a period of feverish recording activity for everybody. King Oliver was in the vanguard but couldn't stay there indefinitely.
And his band disbanded in 1924 in a dispute among over record royalties as a matter of fact. Work on the recording studios was just like everything else there was more of it. Some idea of the scope of recording in the period from 1923 to 1930 can be obtained from a list of the New Orleans jazz men available in Chicago at that time he was 16 and Fred Ramsey. And it's a partial list at that and doesn't count New Orleans musicians who are new Not New Orleans musicians rather who were. More and more influenced by the New Orleans formed any idiom simian the clarinet is for example recorded with Jelly Roll Morton and who's one of whose records with jelly will hear in a moment. I was born in Chicago in 1992 and was in a New Orleanian only by musical adoption. On labels these New Orleans man came out as the Jazz Wizards the Creole Jazz bands midnight round as a Barrel House stompers hot five sixes and sevens 64 as jazz Cardinals washboard pumper as State Street ramblers and red hot pepper A's
red hot peppers was the name Jelly Roll Morton chose for the victory quoting orchestra he organized jelly as we know from previous accounts from and all of him was a rambler who preferred the road to anyone's body toured the country most of the time. With a string of Lincoln buses for his band he worked a route that stretched all the way from Vancouver British Columbia down to the Gulf Coast and into the east. But until about 1928 he did most of his recording in Chicago and these red hot pepper records along with the king all of a Creole band records in the way Armstrong's hot five and seven recordings are some of the most stimulating records of New Orleans form jazz ever made. Here for example is Dr. Jazz a composition by Martin with George Mitchell on a cornet kit or a trombone almost semi and clarinet. Johnny sincere good time Johnny Lindsey bass. Andrew delay on drums. And Mr. Morton on piano and vocal up.
I am.
That. I am I am I am. I am I am I am.
I've been stressing the neurons aspect of the music. These man Oliver and Armstrong and Morton and all the others played in Chicago but it was Chicago not New Orleans and Sidney Finkelstein reminds us that the Negro community for whom Oliver and the others played in Chicago was different from the Negro community in New Orleans the music that Oliver played was still New Orleans in its March tempo its rag blues and Stan content. It's collective music
making and self-absorption in the music on the part of the players. But it also reflected the new Chicago audience the opportunity to make records as well. Induced a greater attention to technical detail and formal organization we could see all the way Armstrong felt that he had to absorb more technical information and in Chicago thereby making the music a more rounded outer unity with a beginning middle and end. In Bessie Smith's records there is likewise a new spirit expressed in old material terms along with the rich folk qualities of her performances. There's a sense of conflict and freedom and assertion of individual independence a fine and subtle artistry in musical organisation which bespeaks a comparative freedom of movement and speech on the part of the musician. You remember I expect a number of the Bessie Smith records we played in the lecture on the blues. The same is true of Jelly Roll Morton records would show him to be a fine individual artist and composer as well as a master of folk materials. His records a stone an invaluable source of study of New Orleans music for it is of New Orleans city life that they speak. They combine the
educated piano rags and the deep blues the machoism stomps the breaks and riffs. The fine individual improvisations and solo and ensemble. He could make his composed pieces sound improvised. He was in a range of carefully calculated the position of every break the interweaving of harmonic chordal passages with free improvisation. The interplay of sweet melody as with blues the duets between one instrument notably his own fine piano and clarinet or guitar in a performance that sounded like improvisation and to a large extent certainly winds. In the perfection of the best more than records like jungle blues Black Bottom stomp the pearls the chant. Wild Man Blues Blue Blood Blues the trio records is never an accident nor is it entirely typical except in its material of the music customarily heard in New Orleans it's it is a composed music with large areas for improved as Asian. Here's an example of how Jelly Roll Morton is red hot pepper is played the blues. This is the blue blood lives.
I am.
I and I am. If the Blues were to remain an important source of jazz material all through the Chicago period and everywhere else where jazz
was evolving in the 20s and 30s and 40s and even up to the present day. Brian Johnson when he was barnstorming in Electra Texas in 1930 received a letter sent from New York I letter from Joe King Oliver and it said among other things I will send you a few numbers to arrange I can give you some extra change as a sideline. Have you got any good blue. If so send them to me. Returning to Sony Finkelstein's comment on this period of jazz history of the Armstrong Hot Five and hot seven records made with Johnny Dodd's kid or a Johnny Saint-Cyr lil Armstrong and at times Baby Dodds. And the others are New Orleans in style and material it took a whole people to bring into being a music like Willie the Weeper of Savoy blues Muscat ramble 12st rag Potato Head blues and the others with their rich avocations of mind should celebration of bitter humor of poignant lament and mass protest. But within the general New Orleans I think
incidentally those mass protest. Analysis of it has been somewhat overdone. But within the general New Orleans style of perfect collaboration an interchange among the soloists there's a great expansion of the solo voice. I'm strong and I play solos of a magnitude and scope. When I'm strong broke off from King all of his band and formed his own little groups their solos are of a. Scope not found in the Oliver band performances not to have been found in Storyville it's expected that said Ones New Orleans music and a new creation. Meanwhile musicians like real Hines from Pittsburgh had joined the group. And the New Orleans style was becoming influenced by other ways of approaching jazz. Just as Hines of course was greatly influenced by what he heard. And in turn the whole language was evolving here is a record made after Louis Armstrong had left all of it made in 1927. With their hinds on piano and Louie. Who had switched to trumpet rather than cornet Boyd Adkins was on soprano sax the saxophones are beginning to enter. Stomp
Evans on baritone trey the New Orleans veteran on trombone and rip bass and on banjo note the difference between this and what we've heard of the King all of a band. This is called aptly enough Chicago breakdown right down out in the sense with a decline of some of the critics have stated. But in the sense of the breakdown of the materials of the music into a new stage of the. Whole. I am I am I am.
I am I am I am. During the height of King Oliver his jazz activity at the Lincoln Gardens
there was very little sheet music on the stands a few scribbled lead sheets mostly with the titles torn off the top. King Oliver had done this because he didn't want the other musicians who came to listen to know what his men were playing he had had an unfortunate experience with a white New Orleans Rhythm Kings at the Friar's and it would hurt his band play the jazz and baby blues then recorded it as an original tune of their own. The original contribution except for judgments was drowned and chorus was the title Tin Roof grooves. Most of the white musicians who came to the south side to hear the band and their number included youngsters who were just beginning to play as well as professionals did not come to steal Joe's ideas and tunes nor for that matter did the members of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings usually. Because they were good musicians on their own. All the better though for having listened to the story the musicians in New Orleans where they were born and for having listened wrong and attentively to the music of the south side when they came to Chicago. Well older and younger white musicians some of the latter in the very early teens came to the southside to marvel at the music and
to learn from the greatest jazz man band in existence in a connective section. And Eddie Condon's book we called it music. But Thomas to groups a group will describe some aspects of the process. Before Prohibition poured white patrons into the Southside cafes there were white boys gathered around the bandstand at the dreamland in Lincoln Gardens some of whom were stocking the young musicians were discovering the new music and listening to its masters. The younger white boys were high school students Dave talked to as well playing Francis Muggsy Spanier Benny Goodman and a group from Austin High on the west side Jimmy McPartland Lawrence Bud Freeman Frank Tessmacher and Jim Lanigan the latter. Now a bass player with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and homies boyz practiced and listened to records by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings in the Oliver band they were determined to play jazz. They formed small orchestras played at school dances went to the south side of the friars in with annoyance when the Kings played to take lessons from the masters of their respective instruments baby dogs on
drums Jimmy Noonan Johnny Dodds Leon report of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and clarinet Joe Oliver and Louis on cornet George brunettes on trombone. The star of The New Orleans Rhythm Kings was Apolo. The driving force of the band was judged ruinous both from New Orleans both from musical families both veterans of the white cabarets of story though. Couple ran away from home when he was 14 and played in a band with the Palmers act on the Orpheum circuit. Police found him and sent him home. He worked then at the halfway house in Storyville with Abbey broom as George's brother in Chicago 19 20 he enjoyed in Palmyra is played at the Cascades ballroom where the piano was half a tone off and suddenly they organized a New Orleans Rhythm Kings and received a job at friars inn on the strength of their version of the Wabash balloons. So enchanted with the Rhythm Kings with Chicago life that after work in the early dawn they rode around for hours on the Elevated. Report. Slowly went mad for a variety of contributing reasons. He liked to lean against a telephone pole with his clarinet
and improvise on the rhythm ear and humming in the wires. He stood on the stand at the Friars in and played chorus have to chorus while the customers stopped dancing to listen. The manager begged him to stop so the people could sit down and spend some money. When he was harmlessly insane he went back to New Orleans and Abbey Brutus took him again into the band at the halfway house from the dafter and he was later institutionalized and died in an institution near New Orleans. Francis Muggsy Spanier describes his jazz apprenticeship in those days. When your pres came up from New Orleans he didn't have a band of his own. Bill Johnson the bass player was manager of the band at the Royal Gardens and Joe played two jobs at the same time as we described. I knew the owner of the dreamland one of the places where Joe played and was allowed to sit in a dark corner on the balcony to listen to the music. I was only 14 then still not old enough to be allowed in a public dance song. But as long as I heard the music thing and the conditions didn't matter. The band played from about 9:30 to 1:00
a.m. and after hours they played the Pekin cafe. One of the worst gangster hangouts in Chicago in the summer the Piegan kept its windows open so I'd sneak from home just about every night and sit outside on a curbstone listening to the music. Sometimes the goings on would get rough inside the music would stop and you'd hear the flash of a 45 caliber revolver is trying to fire with a beat. Before I knew it I'd be running home for the next night would always find me sitting on the same curb stone. I thought the music well worth running the risk of getting shot by a stray bullet. Nine hundred twenty two of the Lincoln Gardens announced the triumphant return of Oliver from San Francisco. The Lincoln Gardens as we noted was the remodeled Royal Gardens a dreary looking place as monkey recalls. As soon as Jo was back I'd be there every night glued to the spot nearest the bandstand. That was available. Louis Armstrong came out from New Orleans to join the band for its reopening. This was my first meeting with Louis. I can say that from the very first he fell right in with the boys who played melody mostly at the time and wasn't featured on solo as
much as you've noted from the records. Joe would take them however when they team up on Duets it would get so hot there was no telling whether the roof would hold out or not in the band were a little higher than Johnny and baby dogs on a raid to play Johnny Saint-Cyr and Bill Johnson. I got to know Oliver quite well both he and Louis encouraged me in my playing a lot. Joe sometimes would teach me some of his tricks with the newts. I learned a lot from him. After a little practice I was invited to sit in with the band. I was the first one to do so must it seem strange a little kid blowing a cornet with those two titans. That's one thrill I never forget having played with the two greatest cornet is in jazz hands. It's interesting at this point to play a recording by the King Oliver of 1923 the famous different blues with King Oliver is now standard chorus on the tune and Johnny Dodds clarinet chorus which also became somewhat of a standard chorus and then a record made by Muggsy Spanier
you know the same tune in 1939 with a group of white musicians some of whom like Mugsy had learned their jazz in Chicago. The earlier record incidentally was made probably at that first session we described. So it's rather non modern reproductive sound in terms of reproduction of the music itself can be explained in terms of the equipment used. And by contrast of course the Spaniard to pronounce it was made at a later date when recording activities had achieved new criteria of quality. But note how the second record could never have been made without the influence of the forest both specifically in terms of this tune and the interpretations of the two bands. And more largely in terms of jazz influence as a whole.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
New Orleans Influence on Chicago Jazz, Part One
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WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two, focuses on the influence that New Orleans jazz had on the jazz musicians in Chicago.
Series Description
Jazz historian Nat Hentoff presents a series that traces the history of jazz, from its musical and cultural roots to its contemporary forms. "The Evolution of Jazz" was originally broadcast from WGBH in 1953-1954, and was re-broadcast by the National Educational Radio Network in 1964.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-16 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:58
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 16; New Orleans Influence on Chicago Jazz, Part One,” 1954-02-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 16; New Orleans Influence on Chicago Jazz, Part One.” 1954-02-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 16; New Orleans Influence on Chicago Jazz, Part One. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from