thumbnail of The Evolution of Jazz; 12; Instruments in New Orleans Jazz, Part One
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
The evolution of jazz is 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. Had come last week. To the. Section of jazz that existed in Storyville in the city within a city in New Orleans where are they many musical strains. We've discussed in the past 11 weeks the Afro American folk music field haulers Work Song spirituals then the later. Right Time minstrel influences Spanish French even some Indian and Creole influences together were the work songs and blues all came together. Story of Delta radio briefly.
Was established in 1897. When the New Orleans City Council adopted an ordinance introduced by Alderman Sidney story which set aside an area in the French Quarter of New Orleans wherein prostitution was to be permitted but not actually legalized. Later to the considerable discomfort of Aldermen story the section was named after him and it eventually became the most celebrated red light district in the United States because of that and the charge as was mentioned last week has often been made that jazz somehow has always been associated with an immoral or amoral atmosphere and the. Fact of its partial Genesis in Storyville has been brought up as a testing to that. The English writer yung Lang has treated this subject rather well I think he writes undoubtedly a great deal of jazz has been produced in surroundings for which underworld is almost
an understatement. But the underworld did not create jazz which grew out of the everyday life of the people their working hours as well as their playtime washerwoman's blues and cold hard blues. I was representative a street walker blues or gin house blues. The new idiom was formed by brass bands playing for such innocent occasions as Labor Day and Emancipation Day parades baseball games at Carrollton park and picnics out on the lake shore of mill and buried. It was formed by the ten cent horn players peddling pies and in the barber shops were a good time for the use of waiting clients was as much standard equipment as the Virginals in a barber shop in Elizabeth in London. Basic jazz still comes from everyday life. It has flourished on occasion in the night Hans of wide open cities such as New Orleans Chicago St. Louis and Kansas City because players of dance music must work in places where people dance and the wider open the town the more jobs there are story they all welcome the new music because Storyville had none of the academic or their racial prejudices which closed the doors of the group
of Alden and winds in New Orleans. Hours in the cabarets and sporting houses were long and the play was seldom more than $2 a night. But that was enough to attract musicians who weren't even less in the daytime playing on street parades. And as was also mentioned last week that was a factor in the growth of jazz in New Orleans the economic wind Storyville and its environs gave work not only to musicians but to waiters cabdrivers gamblers bartenders and a host of other occupations with men and women many of whom came from very poor families working in Storyville was not a choice but a necessity. And there were certainly enough musicians to staff Storyville cabaret as to call it from Paul Edward Miller as a survey. With only a limited number of respectable jobs open to them young Negroes to idle away the time and with no thought of the money which might be or in that way at the beginning took to playing different instruments. One of the salient characteristics of the poor New Orleans Negro family was the interest taken in music. Many of the jazz
greats who later made a name for themselves were reared in families possessing not only musical instruments but a musical tradition in the person of some member or members of the family. In addition every young boy in New Orleans heard so much music that he developed genuine interest. The parade's inspired the kids they had music all around them all the time. They constructed their own homemade instruments so they worked until they had enough money to explore the musical possibilities of pawn shops and junk shops. They learn from their friends. Literally it was often person to person individualized education and invariably it began as a pastime. The demand for musicians was heavy and it is for that reason that so many New Orleans jazz men began playing while they were still mere boys. The older initiated musician seem to take pride in discovering some youngster who showed promise. They gave their protege a patient tutoring and almost always this resulted in his performing with some brass band on a parade or at a picnic all for an excursion on a tour of nearby towns. And if he was good and I think you'd find a job and story though. And.
As was mentioned in the section on the Creole musicians even the Creole families where music was thought of as an avocation for many years. When I can on the conditions became difficult it became a necessity to work as a musician and that's how many Creoles came into story. The youngsters were caught up in a wave of enthusiasm fired high their spirit of adventure carried them through the hardships the actual physical hardships of a long parade March a tour as requiring them to sit up all night in some railroad station because they couldn't find accommodations before going back to story. Well let's review the place of music in the city in general and correct one omission we've made the Mardi Gras and this again is from the survey by Paul a wide Miller and I think I was held during the eight days and nights preceding Lent with festivities ending at midnight Tuesday the official beginning of Ash Wednesday on St. Joseph's Day in Midland. The lid was off for that one night only one last balls with the ruling favorites during Mardi Gras
musicians often work two or three jobs in one day. A parade in the morning another in late afternoon or early evening in a dance at night. Each kind of ALL DAY a different fraternal society or a lodge a merchant a group of merchants would finance the floats between floats a brass band comprised of from 10 to 30 musicians ranging in age from 12 to 50. The kings of the monograph originated their march at the foot of Canal Street at the river proceeding up Canal to Clare Bowen to Jackson and St Charles and back again. The King of the Zulus and Louis Armstrong several years ago in a triumphant return to New Orleans was elected king of those who rose to his great delight entered at the head of the basin and marched with his parade floats in brass bands downtown toward canal then followed by the same route. The kind of the season was only the climax of year round festivities during the entire year of dances parties and celebrations of all kinds and held for in numerable never ending reasons required music in a ceaseless stream. A long season of picnics
and outings began on Easter Sunday. Invariably these called for music both boat and railroad excursions were common and these demanded music. There were even night and day flat boat excursions on the river. The boat was drawn by mules ropes attached to the boat twenty miles down the river and back. The band was placed in the center of the boat and played for dancing and entertainment. The Resort Spa at Sun Lake pancetta Clannad millon very West-End Algeria's all these attracted the festive crowds mainly those of the lodges and societies in the clouds and showed New Orleans was a city in which the demand for musicians was excessively graded as compared to other urban centers youngsters became interested in brass bands because they saw so many parades and other festivities in which bands took a prominent part having themselves grown up in the same parade brass band atmosphere. The fathers and mothers too with favorably inclined toward music they lent encouragement to the children who showed an interest in music for music at a specific functional value in the life of New Orleans. It is little wonder then concludes Miller that from such surroundings should have
been a great jazz musicians and music itself was an expression of the negro's response to his environment. And then who played jazz gave it that expression because they found more than ordinary opportunities for projecting it into society. The music was accepted socially and economically had fulfilled a function when it took a definite trend toward what we now call hot jazz it still was accepted and fulfilled a function. That's the Although the people who responded most fully to it in its early stages as jazz usually were those on the lower economic levels. That's the better class of houses and story Bill did not allow their pianist to play the blues. This music was reserved for the cheaper houses the honky tonks the saloons in the cabaret. A band like John Robie shows on the sweet side like the old Creole string bands garnered some of the best paying jobs in town. Although he too will lead a small combination of hot men at times. Nevertheless with so much music being played. Genuine hot jazz inevitably crept into the areas of people on our like anomic levels and with so many
musicians playing and being influenced by one another and the percentage of great and near-great jazz musicians was bound to be high. And in New Orleans and was high and the best were to be found in Storyville. One final remark about the moral atmosphere of Storyville as I said last week's story that was created by the New Orleans City Council not by the jazz musicians or by the negro populace of New Orleans. The jazz musicians were just as eagerly have played in the more respectable New Orleans clubs had they been allowed to do what they wanted to do was play and shall later be made amply clear. There is no evidence that jazz needs an amoral environment to function in these days jazz is to be heard in concert halls here and in Europe. College lecture rooms respectable clubs and as part of civic celebrations it has lost none of its vitality or its creativity since its removal from the kind of social background that existed in Storyville jazz after all. Has any music as a way of
musical expression not the place where it may have been played. Hey if you're one of the best houses in story don't employed regular bans of from two to four instruments later more which played each night in the ballroom of the establishment from 7 o'clock to closing which was usually done the others depended upon the groups of the tenement musicians who frequently appeared in Storyville playing in the streets and saloons for coins and drinks. However every house with any pretension to class possessed a mahogany upright piano and a fairly regular pianist. Well Professor as he was called one of the best and most famous and one who as composer and pianist contributed an enormous amount to jazz was Ferdinand. Jelly Roll Morton who was on a biographical reminiscences
for the Library of Congress have already provided us with several illuminating depictions of life in New Orleans at this time. In this section he describes some of the early Storyville pianists and some of the general ambience of the area. My mom probably heard her time but I remember. Well I'm a hater. One of the greatest manipulative I get premium here paperwork and have a lot of. I'm a manager here because other people from the welding. Foreman. Here with I will be attacking them but they didn't get it. Oh I don't know the name of the owner of it. I want to remember that little bit of the quote
and your interesting family. Yeah that computer rag one apiece that almost everybody have a different among them we had no doubt according to what I can I am from throughout throughout the country conic Jackson all with regard to the plague and only what can fit it among all the way I pleaded. Thank him for painting and the world into memory. Something like nobody has ever. It in the music world there's no tome at whatever come up from any opera and I go over any time or anything that was wrote on paper that told me I couldn't play by memory. One of only a great comb that he wrote some years ago about the year might be infecting the 14 or I did baby. I guess we
all remember pretty baby all right. It was a million dollars here and there in the here I'll demonstrate a little bit of it. Oh boy when I could do that if your company had what he had to invent. And it fit for them. Then among he would be good among the great favor you would no doubt
thought them and favored him. I hold that if you're willing I have met one no man and piano that compliment victim of the world would be the one being victorious when I am going to defend that out at whenever you came I'm going the world and it would make a difference if your good came from Apple. I am a part of. Europe and I played whatever your tools were over there that were the. Same cool. You will be because the boy always played every type and I think that only played or I played from the fame of the low. It without having a favorite moved out and the for the of the ruling class white and black. I am going to die no doubt the favorite I have ever before hated and he lived there with them I know he had such a beautiful boy with the marvelous rain.
Would be good. I think that the lack of opera. Would be good to go back to every map of things and he was always one of the boys with the lady who and he never went in for battle for me very much. But he never did. Then when they call along home he was always there. He went to call them one of the favorite there. He would die my temperamental in me going to get called a place there much to my regret but that was much more money and willing to work at home. But I only got like a week in there with their wife. Well I didn't say John that I was only getting to this point why we had so many pianos. Well after 4:00 in the morning all the good that could get out of the houses that were there they were in and they had discrimination of any kind.
They all had a different tables and in place that they felt like sitting there all mingled together as they wished and everyone was just like one big happy family. People from all over the country came there. Most hand couldn't get in this place would go on from 4:00 in Amman I'm at a tremendous rate of speed when I'm wanting drinks of all types. So maybe twelve one two three o'clock in the daytime of course wonder when the great pianist used the then all the clouds of the. As Charles Edward Smith just drives it and extending the observations of Jelly Roll Morton
if Tony Jackson had one of these early morning ancestors of the jam sessions the competitions between piano players wanted to treat everyone in the house to a drink they proprietor didn't investigate to find out if they had money because of Tony's huge popularity and earning power and story though he ordered the drinks served. Knowing that in any case Tony was a drawing God Himself worth more than any debts he might occur. One early morning Jelly Roll Morton along with other professors was at Tony's place of business and even taking a turn or two at the piano which was rare for anyone when Tony was around and Mr. Jackson was leaning against the bar and a messenger came in with a word that Tony was wanted and would be paid well in a special engagement. Tony didn't move. Let him entertain themselves he said on the entertain myself tonight. Which is fairly indicative of the free and easy musical spirit of story though. The story the houses then served as the incubators of jazz piano at least one important strain of it and the cabarets and saloons of story they'll provide of the setting for the
development and growth to maturity of instrumental jazz before hearing examples of that instrumental jazz. This is Jelly Roll Morton is tribute to Tony Jackson a song written by Clarence Williams That was a favorite of Tony's called the Michigan water blues. Are. You really going to. Reduce. Your urine. Thanks Carol. Yeah I think you're
way but if you don't. Then you are saying. You. Have. To weigh the meaning of. Do you. Say. Guys I'm not scared to talk to me face to. Face yet.
Do you. You're. It would be interesting when the time to stop in
Storyville and talk in detail. The now legendary early titans of jazz Buddy Bolden for example that was the popular hero of Negro New Orleans in the 1890s has really blanch says it was in Bolton's time that the jazz band music began to be used for social dancing the permanently organized street bands and soon the new responsibility and the added financial lift as the bands moved indoors from the street and into dance halls and in a story Bill cabarets had changed in instrumentation and eventually in style he bellowed different in the street. Remember the great New Orleans drummer of AB Dons something of a mixture took place between the string band and the marching band for a time. String bass came in and dropped out. The guitar was sometimes added and much later the piano except for the soloists in the houses like jelly roll. There were a few outstanding New Orleans pianists aside from them because of its late arrival in the band due in turn to the original brass band function of street marches. They are the horns of the brass
band were discarded in the classic lineup resulted cornet trombone clarinet guitar bass and drums for a while and some of the classic New Orleans bands including the violin for two reasons a disinclination to take a job away from the survivor of the string band string bands of course continue to exist to play for Creole and white functions and a second reason for the retention of the time of the violin and some of the first jazz bands. Was the fact that the violinist could read music and teach the other members the new tunes. Of course there were several musicians who could read at that time not all and not all of them Creole. But there were also many who played by ear. So concludes blast jazz in New Orleans while it continued to be used for the parade and the funeral began to supply its rhythms based on the dance to begin with for dancing itself. A great new field opened up the string bands retreated to the fancy houses where brass never was allowed. Dancing was everywhere in New Orleans indoors and out. Polite and impolite in the uptown halls especially like come clean hall the Big Easy
hall and love and charity hall as well as the public parks of the section The dancing was a rough and ready. The slow drag Blues were low down and the music was really hot. In the nicer downtown halls such as they flounces and me as you and I meet in the hopes hall they polite Creole orchestras held forth but the hot uptown bands invaded even these dictate our high society places. Creole and French music the quad rail and every other music present in music rich New Orleans flowed into the repertoire of the jazz bands and in the dances both dancers and musicians improvised. That's providing the stimulus from providing mutual stimulus from both musician and dancer. March tunes were right for parades but dances demanded variety and never did they get more than in Storyville. On account of the evolution of a Creole musician into a jazz man
has been provided by one of the earliest of the New Orleans clarinetist George Black a who in nineteen two went on tour with Petey Wright's Nashville students minstrels. And then he says later I went with the famous George a minstrel as they toured the Dixie circuit. They were two bands a great large one in a small 10 piece orchestra I played E-flat clarinet in the Big Band and B-flat clarinet in the 10 piece. We came back to New Orleans around 1005. He adds that up until the time of his return to New Orleans in 1005 he had played nothing but strictly read music. But then something happened to change by Kay I've been home two days and was out celebrating with some friends he says. When we went to a ball at the Oddfellows hall where Buddy Bolden worked. I remember thinking it was a funny place nobody took their hats off. It was plenty tough you paid 15 cents and walked in. When we came in we saw the band six of them on a low stand they had their heads on two and were resting pretty sleepy. We stood behind a column.
All of a sudden bodies stomps knocks on the floor with his cornet to give the beat and they all sit up straight. Wide awake but he held up his cornet paused to make sure it was on the shore and they played making a pallet on the floor. Everybody got out quick the whole place rose and yelled out almost a boulder and play it for us buddy. Play it. I never heard anything like that before I played legitimate music but this was something that pulled me. They got me up on the stand that night and I was playing with them. After that I didn't play legitimate so much.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Instruments in New Orleans Jazz, Part One
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-7p8tfx22).
Episode Description
This program, the first of two, explores the variety of instruments that New Orleans musicians used when jazz was emerging.
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.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Jazz--Louisiana--New Orleans.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:07
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 12; Instruments in New Orleans Jazz, Part One,” 1954-01-29, 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; 12; Instruments in New Orleans Jazz, Part One.” 1954-01-29. 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; 12; Instruments in New Orleans 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