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Brass bands are also often used for advertising and promotional purposes. Dances and picnics sometimes store opening circus visits competitions were announced by sending a band out in a wagon to be decked by streamers. And incidentally the fact that on these occasions the band travelled on a wagon gives rise to the designation of the peculiarly New Orleans type of trombone playing which we'll examine later as the tailgate trombone and was soon realized that to put the trombonist in the front or center of the wagon was to endanger seriously the lives of the other musicians for with his extended sliding might easily decapitate who come close to it and unsuspecting clarinetist of going at it. Accordingly the trombonist was placed at the tail end of the wagon and to issue a freedom for his slide the wagons tail gate the flexible door that serves to close the back of the wagon was let down. Hence the name tailgate drum bone. On Sundays when many dances were arranged for the same evening several wagons loaded with competing bands toured the city and when the two met they usually
locked wheels and engaged in a carving contest. The principal duel usually being between the best man in the respective band ordinarily the cornet is certain corners preferably where they were cabarets became recognized battlegrounds. But joking all over after Buddy Bolton's death the leading New Orleans current going at it for many years would chase his rivals wagons all over town if they were afraid to stay and meet the onslaught of his cornet. Preston Jackson the New Orleans trombonist recalls one day the king was defeated. Mike Carey. Was a particularly fine player. You never could play high. Jackson remembers but. He made King Oliver throw his trumpet away once there was a big parade and that was with the tuxedo brass band while Joe was with the onward brass band. His outfit was a few feet in front of the tuxedo band in the parade and was playing some grand stuff. It couldn't take that long he just threw his whole in a way. And went into a pawn shop the next
day and bought another. Later in the cabarets of Storyville these cutting contests were continued. And here is a description of how Joe Oliver first became known as King Oliver. It's from Fred Ramsey's chapter on King Oliver in jazz man. There were so many dance halls and cabarets in and around the district such as the one ranch Parkers few close Tom Anderson's Odd Fellows Hall Hope Hall and Economy Hall that needed musicians that a young man like Joe who wanted to play all the time just couldn't miss but first they had to prove his talent to those men who played in Storyville who their ears were used to Bolden de-bunk Johnson the Freddy capper had the manual parade. These were the ones they talked about the ones they admired. Joe was playing with a small band at the Aberdeen brothers a cabaret on the corner of the end of the streets with him were big guy Louis clarinet Richard Jones piano Jones says something going into Joe one night as he sat quietly in the corner. And listen to the musicians who were praising Keppler at NPR as
he was infuriated by their adulation. So he came forth from his silence strode to the piano and said Jones beat it out and be flat. Jones began to beat and Jill began the blow of the notes tore out. Clear as a bell crisp and clean. He played as he probably never had before filling the little dance hall with a low throbbing blue Jones back to him with a slow steady beat with this rhythm behind him Joe walked straight through the hall out onto the sidewalk. There was no mistaking what he meant when he pointed his cornet Frist towards people hours where he kept it played then directly across the street to a player as was working a few hot blasts brought crowds out of both places. I saw Joe Oliver on a sidewalk playing as if he would blow down every house on the street. So whenever a price down the line was deserted by its patrons who came running up to Joe but which by his cornet. When the last place had poured out its crew he turned around and led the crowd into Aberdeen's where he walked to the stand breathless excited and opened his mouth wide to let out the big important words that were
boiling in his head. That all he could say was there that after that night they never called him anything but King Oliver. Brass bands were also in demands at picnics and excursions which were quite frequent. One of the principal grounds which later gave its name to a jazz classic was a place about five and a half hours from New Orleans points at the plat known in New Orleans as mill and buried. After. Mr. Milner property owner of New Orleans for the sum of three dollars a man a brass band would sit at one end of the pavilion at the spot and play for a whole day. More than one fraternal society would have outings at Mill and bird on the same day. And as each order had a band there were frequent cutting sessions there. Also since beer could be brought for 750 a keg the music often became rather fiery. There were other functions for a brass band in New Orleans but the point to be made is that it was through the improvised playing of these bands which took French and other marches sacred
tunes and even popular tunes of the time like any rags bones and bottles today. And yes yes in your I took lead songs transferred the beat from the first and third to the second and fourth syncopated the music get interpreted the marches with the slurs off beads breaks and other American Negro folk music devices. Which became part of the evolving. Pattern of music that was to be jazz and much of the music played for a brass band parade could be transferred almost without change to a dance the same night. For example bong Johnson recalls that he played this in Irving Berlin ballad when I leave the world behind. At few clothes cabaret at night. And listening to the way his re constructed band reconstituted band plays it on this recording. It could quite easily have also been a march tune during the day.
I AM I AM I AM I AM I AM I AM I AM I AM I AM. Three peat. You know in New Orleans there was practically no distinction between March
music and dance music the brass bands without the slightest change in instrumentation often were paid to play for the quadroon balls the country club dances for proms at Tulane for subscription dances in the downtown Creole section for the law and secret societies of both the rolls and sometimes even whites. The same tune slightly changed sort of as brass band pieces quad reels and riding's alike an indication both of the syncopated nature of the negro Marj music and of the affinity between the growth of jazz and the band's let's say musicians with their aprons turned around played for dancers one night and funerals the next day. It's not only the music but the musicians were an Interpol part of everyday life that very human puts it these men were part time instrumentalists who by day cut hair or served food or lifted bales or ran errands but by night or on Saturdays and Sundays for special and ordinary celebrations worked as musicians. So music was both in
content and in the men who performed the music very thoroughly integrated part of everyday life. There was no clear cut division the difference between performer and audience in the sense that that division exists today. By the 1880s the negro brass bands were functioning fully in New Orleans and their music. And more so in the 90s and at the turn of the century and the music began to become more and more like the jazz that was soon to be heard in the story the cafes their music became more and more hybridized as musicianship improved and allow the members to assimilate more fully the various musical influences in New Orleans. It might be well to point out here that other southern cities and. So he said my father north had a brass band tradition for example the St. Louis jazz man Jackson recalls that. He was born in St. Louis of the turn of the century and he was about 12 years old when he started playing on the horn.
He started playing with the Odd Fellows band a group of varying ages sponsored by the Odd Fellows played mainly parades. It was with this group that he got his early and only instruction. The Oddfellows providing group instruction for the members understand the recall I don't mean that anybody took me and taught me by myself I just got there with a whole crowd of other boys and a man get up there and told us what to do and we played and he tried to tell us about our mistakes and you know because of the fact that St. Louis lacked the enormously rich heterogeneous musical life of New Orleans it was New Orleans rather than St. Louis or any of the other cities that provided the birthing place for jazz. I mention that other influences became more and more felt in the brass band music as it evolved into jazz. The French influence for example. It had remained strong in New Orleans not only traveling companies from abroad came to prevent French and present the
French and Italian opera but there had been a philharmonic organization of free Negroes before 1868. The Creole musician could play the quadrilles mazurkas and polkas in French tunes with a formalized skill born of a long tradition of training and European techniques. But even they would often it would appear a rag quad rails and other dancers but not the way it was laid a rag by in-story they'll. The Creoles that heard the quad rails in Missouri and other dances at the quadroon balls and other affairs they had played for and attended and threw them in the dances reached the non Creole negroes who interpreted them in another manner a manner that included the blues idiom and other Afro-American stylistic devices. And there were songs imported from France and the growing infusion of ragtime used for social dancing played at first would not by whites supposedly by Creole musicians who would have had the requisite knowledge of stringed instruments and could read music. Really Bush describes the usual composition of this kind of band and the material
played a small string bands included such instruments as violin string bass mandolin and the Spanish guitar. The repertoire of these bands during this period was more varied than that of the archaic jazz bands. The string of hits played the French quad reel the waltzes and polkas of the day the current popular and sentimental songs and the minstrel songs and dances like the cake walk this minstrel music was played in the syncopated ragtime style at least 10 to 15 years before 1895 when the first published ragtime appeared. Judged by Kay the fine veteran New Orleans clarinetist and a Creole remembers the string bands clearly a typical set or group of dancers he relates consisted of a schottische a mazurka quad real polka. And the general and waltz in the general tone of the string band like that of the ragtime piano before either was fully exposed to the direct negro influences in New Orleans. It was one of a lively somewhat naive elegance. This is an idea an approximate one.
With predominantly non string instrumentation in waltz form of how a Creole band of that period may have sounded. Johnson recorded recently shortly before his death
might have sounded like. Played fairly straight with or at least with relatively little of the later jazz influence a hundred or perhaps even before then. I should stress the approximate nature of that recreation because of the fact that the man the
drunk chose for the day were largely people who had been influenced by much later jazz all through the swing period into and including the forties. But it's an idea of what ragtime sounded as played from the book like The Red Book of rags that was quite popular in New Orleans in the early days. The French opera tradition. Was also influential in some of the earlier musicians. I think by tracing briefly its influence on two musicians will also find out something about the early musical surroundings in New Orleans particularly in the Creole families. Brad Scott the guitarist recalls at an early age my people took me to the French Opera House I was very fond of opera and learned excerpts from it by ear at a very early age. As for my beginning with good time my mother went to the store one day and I was left alone in the house this happened when I was four years of age. I had the idea to go under that bed and get the guitar I picked it up fooled with it a little bit and started with Home
sweet home a melody and three chords. I had forgotten about my mother and everybody else all of a sudden she came home and I made a dive to put the guitar under the bed. She told me this was alright asked me to play again and called in one or two of the neighbors next door they marveled at it. You can see the respect and the music was held and the enjoyment in it among the people of New Orleans. My father came home and I played it for him he liked it so well that without changing his work clothes he went out to Rampart Street and bought me an old guitar for a dollar and fifty cents. I was up early the next morning at 5 and that was my start I still didn't know anything about music at that time. Just what I heard. During that time serenading was quite the thing and all during the night you could hear serenading on violins mandolins and guitar. As the old people would get up and the young people would stay up all night long. Their morals were very high and their intellect was very good we would get up and dance and I would listen to the guitar as it was a very fine guitar as beautiful tones chords a nice rhythm. They didn't play any jazz they were waltzes and marches. That was way back in 1003 getting back to the French opera another Creole musician
Jelly Roll Morton describes his early musical background including the time he went to the French operand decided it was alright for him to play the piano. No they didn't they didn't call me after that but they always said that they CAN I was a sort of them had taken to the get that back that my VOC mother would always encourage me and I think come to be a very patient get our body back. One of the thing with good car and the quantity of day I was known to be to bed and when I found out that he was dividing with me my lap and that of the media didn't quit playing guitar on Craddock PM which I did secretly with big Zeppelin of my family. Then all I want that I pick
them and I tried on the different. And I had moved up more fake very much. Now they used to have in the Sunday paper a different tool. Come out and money come out it would be my attitude that I have to play these tunes correctly and that calling by the name of Mrs. moment at the moment was no moment was no doubt that they get Hamill but that I haven't seen her before me all the time. When I take these numbers and place in front of it would rattle them off like nobody does that and about the third one she rattled off sound like that but then I began to get why they wouldn't let me send it. And I demanded I would go by myself and learn the best way I knew how all
of the way down and the patient with them played on their head at the same Gilder Cameron University in the city of New Orleans and I mean come along. Which was quite a bit and then later taken letter from a professor of college professor named Professor which is considered very good. Driving along and one day and I snapped my house and I was with my folks. I happened to notice a pianist. It didn't last long. That was the place for a gentleman in the world. Well I don't remember the name but I am batman but must have been about 10 years old. I don't remember his name. That was no doubt
about 1990 1895 when he devoted the all of the French opera players. Let's suppose the right. I remember the old building very well and royal while they used to play a number of files and you know how the unfairness played a number. Right right.
That's very crass. You have been listening to the evolution of jazz. I recorded series prepared and produced by Nat Hentoff under the auspices of Northeastern University and presented by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. The evolution of jazz was recorded in the Boston studios of WGBH Af-Am. This is the national educational radio network.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Influences on New Orleans Jazz, Part Two
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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 second of two, explores the influences on New Orleans jazz.
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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African Americans--Music--20th century--History and criticism.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:48
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 10; Influences on New Orleans Jazz, Part Two,” 1954-01-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 10; Influences on New Orleans Jazz, Part Two.” 1954-01-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 10; Influences on New Orleans Jazz, Part Two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from