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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the seventh program in a series on the roots of jazz in America. On this program we tell of the beginning of the exodus of Negro musicians from.
New Orleans was the city of music. Negro marching bands paraded the streets McConnell's campaigns and celebrations concert bands played in the evening in the parks. The opera attracted the big names in serious music. White and Black played dance ragtime music in the cabarets and clubs. Pianos play for the walk around story. On the river. The muddy Mississippi. Pleasure boat. This band was playing dance music to accompany New Orleans as the city of music.
Jelly Roll Morton said he invented jazz in 1903. He was expressing something in his personality which we call ego but jelly roll had the date very accurately and as a pianist he carried the essential nature of jazz to a great many states. He traveled around and there was a LONG after 903 that a great many musicians began to travel around. On another program in this series we described the travels of
Tom Brown and his Original Dixieland Jazz Band and of the fabled but short lived New Orleans rhythm King. These were the early orchestras to come out of the present city and to carry the music to the north the east and to Europe. But a great host of individual musicians continually left New Orleans and found work in the north and so. The main route of travel was not lost on the Mississippi the Mississippi River the Ohio and the Missouri. These were the roads north that the negro traveled. The Mississippi the muddy swath dividing
east from west and emptying into an ocean of New Orleans this greatest of river systems had served Americans from Colonial days on. But in 1811 the quiet surging waters felt the pulse of a new power as the New Orleans the first steamboat on the river began her long treacherous and churning journey down to the City of her name from 1811 to as late as the 1920s these great white flat bottomed boats of pleasure and toil plied the river. They grew in size and elegance until a rival the plush palaces of Storyville itself. Here is what Alan Lomax American folk musicologist said about them during their heyday they were queens indeed their pilots with their silver buttons doe skin jackets their long have Anna cigars and their black top hats. Where monarchs of all they surveyed in their dining salons
appointed with oriental rugs and crystal chandelier their passengers order dinner from menus to pages long menus that included wild duck with cranberries allays of chicken with truffles and scores of other delicacies. The 25 days of the trip from Louisville to New Orleans where sunny days of idleness spent in flirtation dancing gambling and amateur theatricals. But these floating palaces were not devoted solely to the plush trade for below decks was stowed the payload cotton from the south and tobacco from up the river. Hogs heads of molasses and crates of machinery and dry goods were crammed into all available space and at every port the roast abouts shouldered their loads and moved some ashore and brought more of the wood and the elegant on get on deck gambled danced laughed and had a good time while they watched. Watch these Negro rosters carry their loads and listen and
listen to their work singers direct their rhythm and their tasks as they shouted to some unknown tempo run here dog can get your bone. Tell me what shoulder you're wanted on and for 100 years the Charlie Black smoke of the two and four funnel steamboats pattern the warm sky of the Mississippi in one year 1860 over 3500 steamboat arrivals at the Port of New Orleans. And this was the pathway north New Orleans jazz spread fan like up the Mississippi Valley from coast to coast and throughout the world. The original Creole band had already left years before bunk JOHNSON Their drummer had settled in California and organized his Louisiana six. He was soon joined by Kidd Ortiz brown skin jazz band with cornet ust but Kerry as early as nine hundred thirteen bunk. Clarence Williams Xeno and Sidney Bushay had carried New Orleans jazz to Texas. A little later such stars as prez
Dick Chambers tio Atkins Cottrell and Dominic journeyed to Chicago in 1914 sugar Johnny and erratic but sensational cornet ust took north another Creole band with Lawrence Dewey Roy Palmer Herbert Lindsay and Louis captured in Chicago. He added Tubby Hall said he was a little hardened and Wellman Braud the city of Music New Orleans with a population of less than 250000 at the turn of the century. At times had as many as 700 musicians in its midst. Little wonder that some saw the broad Mississippi as an avenue to better pay. They left New Orleans by ones from 900 in three to nine hundred twenty Jelly Roll Morton left in 1903 when they moved. They worked their way went their way as barbers handymen waiters entertainers on riverboats worked their way north and east and west. They went to Amarillo TX arcana and
Shreveport on the Red River. Oklahoma City and Little Rock on the Canadian and Arkansas rivers to Kansas City on the Missouri and Louisville and Cincinnati on the great Ohio. And on the Mississippi through Vicksburg Memphis St. Louis Davenport and St. Paul and ragtime piano music from Storyville and the spirit of jazz. I moved with them. With. A hundred.
Probably less than one third of the stevedores and longshoremen employed in our river traffic are white but the calling now really belongs by right to the negroes who are by far the best Rost abouts and are run rivaled as firemen rushed about life in the truest sense is then the life of the colored population of the rose and partly of Bucktown blacks and mulattoes from all parts of the states but chiefly from Kentucky and eastern Virginia where most of them appear to have toiled on the plantations before freedom and echoes of the old plantation life still live in their songs and their pastimes. You may hear old Kentucky slave songs chanted nightly on the steam boats in that wild half melancholy key peculiar to the natural music of the African race. And you may see the old slave dances nightly performed to the air of some ancient Virginia reel. Many of their songs which have never appeared in print creed of levee life in the cities on the Mississippi. Of all the popular steam boats running on the muddy water and of the favorite rouseabout haunts on the river bank.
Gone. Man I'm going to. Own that. I'm going oh not. Yet given him you
know. And when you don't I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. Oh no no no no. I don't know what it is.
And on the river I wonder if they met these Negro musicians who had left the plantations with their work songs and spirituals and moved to the city and learned to manipulate white man's instruments to the taste and fascination of Storyville low life. I wonder if these carriers of a negro music that was gay and bawdy met those negro roustabouts who instead of moving to the cities found work on the rivers and instead of a bright and bawdy tune still sang their work songs and chants. What must it have sounded like when in some port up the river the payload was going ashore. And on and on an upper deck on the steamboat. The carriage trade was being entertained.
And somewhere in between you hit both and I'm going to yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. You. Want you won't. Want you. And number
on. The phone. And I'm the nominee. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah you definitely got him yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. The negro and his music like the river on which they must have met had grown branches and twigs and leaves. And it eventually blossomed into a whole world of sound. The seeds Scott had where men took them and the fruit enjoyed by all of us today.
And the city that was headquarters in the north was St. Louis St. Louis Aton with forty two railroads met. Where a large population of music loving negroes lived. The headquarters of the structures line of steamboats the home of the great pianist faith Merrill though. It was to St. Louis that Louis Armstrong came to begin his years of playing on the river. It was here where the great Emmanuel Perez and the pioneer sugar Johnny took their riverboat bands.
This is not the actual music of St. Louis for that expression was never captured on phonograph records but this is how it must have sounded. How.
Say Lois was north and it was a headquarters town for deck hands roasters firemen and stevedores working on the river and St. Louis reflected this negro life in a love for the blues the blues sung by women and occasionally men the blues that had fostered so much in New Orleans. And now in St. Louis the musicians in bands on the steamboats caught and reflected this influence and the Blues were played by dance and entertainment bands. I was. Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks
Thanks Thanks. Yeah OK thank you. Thank God I am listening to you in Chicago. Oh this is one of the blues songs that was recorded. Yeah OK yeah.
You have all heard that endless legend called Frankie and Johnny. They lived and died in St. Louis St. Louis told their stories in a song that has grown and changed to fit other messages like folk epics always do. But it began in St. Louis and this Mid-Continent town produced musicians and orchestras to compete with the best. Here is what writer Rex Harris says in his book jazz in St. Louis there were several bands who could hold their own against impressive personnel's such as the struct last line provided Charlie Crieff a cornet player soon made a name for himself being engaged in 1910 by struct us to play in his boat the St. Paul for the season. BARTLIT Sim says that creates band was the finest to play on the river and a glance to the names shows that this is probably no idle claim. Sessile Scott clarinet Leonard Davis trumpet Charles Lawson and trombone Julie Singleton drums and Lonnie Johnson guitar all played with Creed Simmons
recalls the occasion when Fletcher Henderson and McKinney's cotton pickers were engaged in a battle of music in the Coliseum theatre grease band and happen to be in town that evening and spotted by the audience were persuaded to play during the intermission. Anderson and the cotton pickers came second and third in that competition. They had nothing to approach creates Market Street stomp and in St. Louis something changed. The old three instrument melody line of New Orleans the trumpet trombone and clarinet was augmented by the saxophone. Here again is Mr. Horace. Another good cornet is to lead a riverboat band was Alan the same who later played on so many of Clarence Williams recordings is whispering gold band playing in St. Louis in the early 1920s included Eugene Cedric and Walter Thompson saxophones pops Foster bass and Sidney Devane trumpet. It will be noticed that in all of these St. Louis bands a reed section has added itself to the brass and rhythm a direct result of the merging of the more legitimate approaches to music with the bold individual ism
of New Orleans. OK. And. That's the story of how jazz moves from New Orleans up the Mississippi. How its band is and its like tenor and musician who's traveled the big boats. And where Intan changed by the people they met along the way. That's how St. Louis fits into our picture of how the saxophone with its blue rasping wailing tooting sounds added strength to the lower registers. But despite all these cities with all these travelling musicians the
headwaters of the river. And of jazz are Chicago. This has been the seventh in a series of programs on the roots of jazz in America. Program number eight takes us on our final trip. From New Orleans to Chicago. The roots of jazz was written and produced by Norman Cleary in the studios of w o I. I was State College at a dick Vogel was sound technician. And radio was the radio. This is Norman clearly speaking.
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Roots of jazz
Up the Mississippi
Producing Organization
Iowa State University
WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program explores the growth of jazz north from New Orleans.
Series Description
Music-documentary series in 26 parts, covering various aspects of jazz.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Director: Cleary, Norman
Engineer: Vogel, Dick
Host: Church, Wells
Performer: Oliver, King, 1885-1938
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: 56-24-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:12
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Chicago: “Roots of jazz; Up the Mississippi,” 1956-08-12, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 3, 2023,
MLA: “Roots of jazz; Up the Mississippi.” 1956-08-12. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 3, 2023. <>.
APA: Roots of jazz; Up the Mississippi. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from