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The evolution of jazz. A survey of American art form from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan. The evolution of jazz as a 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 we had begun to trace the development of jazz among white musicians in New Orleans. There will be initial and main influence on these musicians came from New Orleans and from traveling minstrel shows and the like it should be noted that the white version of New Orleans jazz was bound to sound different from its model. For one thing it wasn't to be expected that the white musicians
could learn to speak the Afro American musical language fluently and just wanted to generations. In contrast with the negroes who had had two centuries and more to draw on. It's not a matter of racial inheritance of musical style because there is no such thing but a matter of familiarity over a long period of cultural history with a certain style of expression. Furthermore in addition to this imperfect assimilation at first of the musical language especially the blues there is the fact that these white musicians provided their own cultural backgrounds to New Orleans jazz a tradition of music making from the French and Spanish and other European sources in New Orleans. The white dance music the newly emergent German and Italian strains from the new immigrants. So as a result. There is a difference between white New Orleans jazz loosely called Dixie Land and the Creole and Negro New Orleans music. We've been examining which of course we're based in part on these musical strains too but also were derived from blues spirituals and
American Negro folk music. I think the term Dixieland is used loosely in matter of fact. So as most terminology of style differentiation in jazz. But for our purposes we can use it in this sense. I do not incidentally mean to imply that even in the early days of white New Orleans jazz there was a rigid color line. Jacques Laine's band the most important of the very first white groups contain two Creoles and all through the history of Dixie Land there have been mixed bands. The term itself incidentally comes not only from the Mason-Dixon line. But also from the fact that at some time in the 19th century and you want to bank issued a $10 bill with the word DC for 10 printed in large letters on one side from this the words Dixie or Dixie Land meant New Orleans long before the word was used as a general name for the South. I mean it's Bornemann describes one area of distinction between Dixie Land and the New Orleans Negro and Creole Jazz. Has the fact that Dixie Land often fell back more strongly on them in ragtime and
dance tradition like the cake walk rather than utilizing fully the fluid Afro-American blues language that came from the work song and spiritual and the like. It's for this reason and again these distinctions are quite relative and tentative. The Dixieland in its later variant what is called the Chicago Jazz which was an imitation to start with of the New Orleans musicians who played in Chicago in the 20s. It may be for this reason the Dixieland tends to be more rigid rhythmic more staccato and it's attack less relaxed more fluid is the better word in the interplay of the ensemble voices. The negro and Creole only one of them is jazz. Some also would say that there is less emphasis on contrapuntal ensemble work using the term contrapuntal as Wilder Hobson pointed out in the quotation we utilized last week. Not quite it's academic sense. There is less emphasis on the multi linear ensemble work and more on solos in Dixieland and white Chicago Jazz both through the 20s.
The importance of the Solo became greater in the playing of the very negro musicians in Chicago who were influencing the white. Second liners of that era I think myself that what can be said in general is this. These right musicians both in New Orleans and later in Chicago and elsewhere wherever the original New Orleans music was hurrying and inspired young white musicians. These white musicians were after all learning a partially new language and so were not as fluent as them and used to playing that language over some period of years. Game for example is a record made in 1923 by one of the best if not the best of the early white New Orleans groups. It's one that influence Bix Beiderbecke among many other musicians that assembled in this forum in Chicago and for a time Jelly Roll Morton was its musical director the New Orleans Rhythm Kings Paul Maurice trumpet George Prunus trombone all these musicians came from New Orleans Leon
Ripoll clarinet Mel stencil piano and Frank Snider on drums they play where the blues after which will play a recording made at about the same time three years later of a group lively composed of New Orleans Negro and Creole musicians playing the same song we were able to choose. Here's where a blues played by Louis Armstrong Johnny dawns on clarinet.
Maybe dawns on drums guitar and trombone girl from Fisk University about which will have more to say later. I am.
As was quite obvious there was also present on the recording a tuba which in New Orleans was the predecessor of the string bass. Though the main exodus of jazz from New Orleans occurred after the closing of story the 1917 many jazz men in previous years had left the city sometimes for long periods playing their music in other parts of the country. Actually all through the pre 1917 years there had been a continuing process of interaction with musicians coming to New Orleans from other cities contributing their musical ideas and being influenced in turn. New Orleans musicians doing the same in their travels and also during this period along the Eastern Seaboard through the southwest and the Middle
West. They were developing other strands of early jazz which were to later fuse in the late 20s and 30s. Minstrel shows have been traveling from city to city of course for many decades and as was mentioned in the section on minstrelsy the music for the minstrel shows became more and more a syncopated ragtime tour the end of the 19th century. That's the New Orleans trumpet player bun Johnson who could read rags as well as improvise around them traveled with the Georgia minstrel company playing in New York in 1203 and San Francisco and 1005 has really no it's the first jazz band in the real sense to leave New Orleans was the original Creole band featuring Freddie kepp aren't they for his long trip took them in 1911 to Los Angeles. Subsequent tours on the Orpheum circuit carried them all over the country from Maine to California 1014 they were playing a long run at New York's winter garden and appear on Sundays in the open air at Coney Island. My camper had not only played jazz for the assembled thousands but
also utilized his show arrangements of such non jazz items as Carnival of Venice and the sextette from the. In 1916 Victor wanted to record the original Creole band but kept it very unwisely as it turned out because he was afraid that a visit if he was in Prague as a Tory ideas were preserved in recorded form. Other musicians would steal them and as a result he lost a great opportunity. And it happened in this way. A contingent of White Jazz musicians many of the men in the band consisting of those who had received that training while working in Jacques Laine's bands in New Orleans. The contingent went north to Chicago from New Orleans in 1915. It was Tom Brown's band a five piece unit as Woody by states where New Orleans negroes had already been intermittently playing on Chicago's South Side for some years prior to 1950 and without attracting much notice. The Tom Brown band playing at Lamb's cafe created a sensation. Well perhaps and
for us not a riot is the most accurate word Tom Brown himself. I recently described what happened. We arrived at Lamb's cafe on May 15th 1915. He writes and after a week the afternoon orchestra leader came to me and said Brownie you are not union and we can't play in the same place with you. I told him to take it up with the manager who said that we were making a hit and if you could not work with us to take his orchestra out he did but reported that as the manager told that to the protesting orchestra leader. The leader did but reported the matter to the union. And so the union Brown continues thought up a stunt to hurt us. They took away a colloquial expression with off color and connotation that was used around Twenty second Street in Chicago and put an advertisement in the papers saying that the music of the Lambs was jazz music. They thought this would kill Argo and lands. Well that night the crowd jammed in our place to hear what jazz music was which made the boss very very
happy. He told me that he would like to put the word out in lights. I told him the jazz was not a good word but if he saw fit to put a word like that in lights to go ahead and do so. That's how a title was changed the sign in front of Lamb's gets a red added attraction. Brown's Original Dixieland Jazz Band direct from New Orleans best dance music in Chicago. And that is probably one of the first times the word jazz was you used. There are many etymological disputes about the origin of the word and its initial meanings none of which strike me as to the present discussion. The fact that the word jazz was first used in a non musical sense has occasionally been part of the intermittent indictment against jazz as an immoral or amoral music. Here again just as in the explanation for the growth of jazz in Storyville none of this has anything to do with the music in the Orleans story but it was one of the few places where men who wanted to play this evolving Afro American music would work regularly. And when the word jazz
itself came into being in Chicago you'll note that it was first used by non jazz musicians. It happened to stick. It has been used ever since although there have been later variants which will cover it. I bring up these sociological footnotes because they seem to be an object of consistent curiosity and an accurate understanding of them has done jazz some harm. I'll return in a later lecture to some of the rather strange uses of the word jazz in writings on both musical and nonmusical subjects but the important thing remains the music itself and its evolution to continue with the story of how jazz was came to be recorded after Freddie Keppra turn the 1916 offer from Victor down rebuys describes it succinctly. After Brown became established in Chicago the following year in 1916 another five piece Dixieland then came north from New Orleans. They traded clarinetist with the brown group and a new outfit. Nick Lowe broke a clarinet Larry shields looking nickel Roca cornet clarinet Eddie Edwards
trombone Tony's barrel drums and Henry Rigas piano jazz history in a sense in the North under the name of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band they played in New York at rise in wages cafe near Columbus Circle and after initial apathy on the part of the clientele scored an enormous success. One of the reasons by the way for the initial apathy or perhaps confusion of the New York audience when first confronted by this rather new kind of music was discovered when the management finally told their clientele that this was jazz music spelled with a double ass then and that really it was meant for dancing. From then on the floor was crowded and the management setting a precedent for later jazz entrepreneurs imposed a cover charge. Victor and I recorded the band as Diddy only and they received as much as a thousand dollars a night to play at private parties. And Dixieland music had a riot. They were later triumphant visits to England by the Original
Dixieland Jazz Band to stay in Paris. They were away in all two years abroad from 1919 to 1921. For a long time because of the success of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and its imitators and this band influenced a number of white groups in the 20s the red nickels for one. Most people thought that this was jazz whereas of course it was actually an imitation of the New Orleans jazz created by the Creoles and darker negroes there and based on the Blues and other Afro American. The musical language is and is really black writes the original form had to fight its way out and its recognition came quite a bit lighter. It was never actually anywhere near the widespread recognition that the Original Dixieland Jazz Band for history see how important Freddie Keppra refusal to record was as hard to assess and his kind of much more authentic jazz been released first. Perhaps that might have garnered the large success of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and public
understanding of the nature of jazz might have been much clearer. In any case to quote bless again their first record sold by the millions in those pre radio days when success was one which negro jazz probably deserved and might well have had. This is not to denigrate the band itself. As Barry Ulanov writes today if one listens to the records of the Original Dixieland band without prejudice it is almost impossible to deny the extraordinary vitality in the linear strength of the music that went along with the comedy that the band featured. Regarded only historically the records are exciting they reflect the contagious conviction of the five musicians. The skill of the facile clarinetist Larry shields in the tradition and above all close to it. The New Orleans boys nonetheless understood the essential strength of linear writing it continues when through the din of pre electric recording you hear the Rochas cornet play the melody lead shields echo it in act an octave higher. It would underscore an octave lower in the piano give it a kind of ground bass. You feel the essential
strength of this form relying on trite melodies the Dixieland is we're fortunate in having the blue notes of the blues and the intense steadiness of rhythm that is always characterized. Good jazz on the matter of rhythm though it Charles it would Smith points out correctly I believe that the tempo of that band was more like that of ragtime and what is recognized today as jazz temple it was a strict temple added to it with a tendency to hit hard and fast. And overall I think it lacked by far the fluidity and the creativity of the New Orleans negro dance. Let me play you a 19 24 I believe recording of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made after they returned from England in which you'll find incidentally in a saxophone added something that was happening at the same time in Chicago and it's followed by a 1926 record by Freddie Kepler and Nate in Chicago. By this time he had decided that after all he would allow himself to record and to be recorded and you can decide for yourselves whether this analysis is accurate. The contention of the
pressed record by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band is largely an imitation of the more relaxed illustration of the man down the blue than the by which the pretty couple record demonstrates. Pretty.
I like that.
As far as the evolution of jazz is concerned this sanction concerning the Original Dixieland Jazz Band has been in part a detour. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band itself soon disbanded musicians who had been directly influenced by them were of minor importance and subsequent jazz unless they later had and utilized the opportunity to hear jazz in the mainstream. The jazz of New Orleans for musicians and the later jazz developments by both whites and negroes in the 20s and 30s. A.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Jazz Spreads, 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 parts, discusses the various methods that jazz began to spread from New Orleans to other cities.
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: 55-32-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:34
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 14; Jazz Spreads, Part One,” 1954-02-12, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2023,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 14; Jazz Spreads, Part One.” 1954-02-12. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 30, 2023. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 14; Jazz Spreads, 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