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The evolution of jazz. A survey of American art form from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan out. 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 concluded the section on the blues or at least the vocal blues and some of the later variations instrumentally this week. A later piano form of the Blues will be with. Eugene Williams theorized that he
was probably an outgrowth of the barrel house blues that self-taught pianists all over the Salva played chiefly as an accompaniment for blues singing the barrel house was another name for a drinking place with a roll of rack in barrels at one side. Campbell claims a more precise geographical location. Writing that book you were he was called a fast loser fast Western the term Western probably referring to the lumber and turpentine camps of Texas where it was thought to have originated in Houston Dallas and Galveston. During the early part of the century. Negro pianist played the fast blues as differentiated from the slow blues of New Orleans and St. Louis though it didn't have that name until years later in Chicago. Spread from Texas through out the salt Birotteau to an obscure and unrewarded pianists who pounded on battered uprights and dives in honky tonks at dances and party. One critic William Russell suggested that the term party piano is more accurate for the style. In any case in these drinking rooms there were rarely any paid
entertainers nor orchestra and the only music provided was that played and composed on the spot based of course from the traditional wealth of material in the musical language composed by the piano player. This was Romeo Nelson recorded this before then I expect he had done a lot of.
In time Chicago became a kind of center. In the 20s and there it received its name around 1928 from Smith and they would mature it under the administrations of many of the best known boogie woogie pianists like Smith Jimmy Yancey crippled Clarence loft and Romeo Vincent Meade luxe Lewis and Albert Ammons among many others. The Philadelphia pianist Sam Price in his book in the land remembers that when he was a small boy in Dallas the wandering blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson the record of who was was heard in the section on the blues. While singing to his own a company man on the guitar would produce the result definitely like will you will the accompaniment was a constantly repeated figure corresponding to the left hand of the pianist and the voice was a free improvisation against it. Jefferson was aware that this was a special style and even called it technically the most striking element is the strong repetitive bass often consisting of one figure which is transposed through the chord changes of the blues. In an article some years ago in The New York Times John
Martin compared to the divisions on the ground of the early classical composers or as Barry Ulanov puts it what you will get is a jazz conversion of the bustle ostinato device the pedal point of an organ point reiteration of the bass line and as in classical music there were the shackle and the plastic Aaliyah's whose music consisted of a ground bass with variations. So in the bass patterns of the left hand often played eight beats to the measure are contrasted with a kind of relentless almost abrupt set of treble variations in the right hand. I rather think these comparisons between early classical music and this growth of blues piano are somewhat tenuous but for what it's worth may be illuminating to hear one of the SKA in a personal ground and then Mary Lou Williams in a movie with you.
The end.
Both hands are playing melodies and they're often widely separated in pitch frequently proceeding in contrary motion in the treble running upward in pitch while the bass runs downward in the other way around the tremolo is often pretty constantly used. As a rapid succession of notes rather than to produce the effect of a sustained tone.
It was a slow news rather than a later post but it illustrates that's tremolo. Listen later in the book you will use and will be playing and you'll see how this became utilized in the movie will you form Charles Edward Smith adds that he is built of short scale figures with many repeated notes emphasizing its economy of material and yet it tends to be more chromatic using more notes of the scale than the ordinary blues as an indication of its compact and sometimes a melody for an entire chorus is built around one note the bass can be on the right hand and the melody on the left.
We're walking bass which produces four beats to the bar is used sometimes but generally the word is associated with the ruling bass a bass that makes frequent use of dotted eights and 16 it's this bass figure played in four four time usually contains a beats to the measure and it can be played an eight time as well as full of floor. Point is that you were gay is not restricted to any one rhythm. The right hand improvising freely and not confined like the left the marking a steady beat often plays against the bass producing intricate counter rhythms. Bill Russell thinks the origin of the steadily repeated bass line may have been due to the fact that initial lack of pianistic skill among the early self-taught will be when the players compel them to keep their left hand in one position and constantly repeat a figure. They percussive nature of the piano and boogie woogie get out be overemphasized Dean Williams like you were going piano to a complex and skillfully manipulated set of tunes and Bill Russell has over categorically I think called Boogie Woogie the most pianistic of all jazz styles it does make use of many
resources of the piano. Earlier forms of blues piano did not utilize but as we still hear there are other styles of jazz where the piano is much more of a say melodically and harmonically and rhythmically for that matter. There are too frequent charges leveled against Aaron Copeland once remarked that it lacks any shred of melodic invention. It is true that the economy really leads to any sustainable logic invention but boogie woogie often has considerable melodic charm and occasionally a relatively elaborate melodic texture. Pete Johnson's Casey on my mind while not particularly elaborate as I think indicated more than a shred of melodic invention. Or.
Another charges been the boogie woogie is all alike. I think it's more accurate to say the boogie woogie has less scope for differentiation than almost any other form of jazz but in any segment of jazz as an egg any segment of jazz will be different according to the musician playing an incompetent or unimaginative pianist does repeat all the cliches. Adding fuel with any original idea has been a major jazz pianist like Mary Lou Williams can make a boogie woogie of fresh uniquely communicated form. I hope that just a few examples already played have indicated that there are many diverse approaches to boogie woogie. Here's perhaps the most famous of all boogie woogie solos with the possible exception of pine tops will be will be made Lux Louis playing his honky tonk train blue is another example of one of many. Of the importance of the train in the evolution of the whole American folk music as a symbol of hope of another chance somewhere else or a fulfillment of the train. As one of the lyrics have it has it with a train bringing my baby back home or simply as an
expression of the vastness and loneliness and lack of fixed assurances of existence. With.
And finally a raucous shouting Happy will be will be it also shows will be will he grew as an accompaniment to the blues. An example if I was Dean Williams phrase the boogie woogie has an indomitable and exultant drive that is often a good time music. And that is never polite. Kansas City pianist Pete Johnson on the blues sheltered children.
Right. With. A final note might be that like almost all forms of Afro American music you will get has a dance basis almost all the traditional patterns were created with a dancing swing in mind. However subliminally. In the first like your in the series I noted that jazz has long been laboring under many unjustly unfavorable connotations in connection with Boogie Woogie for example a noted symphony conductor who is now in Italy in residence. Here's a girl called it called Boogie Woogie Mind you
a prime contributor toward a generously. And a superintendent of schools once told an educational convention that boogie woogie has the same effect. I quote directly has a strong drink of booze unquote and that sooner or later it might be necessary to legislate against it. I hope the section on will you will get has not affected your sobriety. William Laurel St.. So far in providing a background for the beginnings of jazz we've been examining the Afro American music of the South preparatory to a discussion of ragtime music which will be the last stage before going into jazz proper. I'd like to spend some time on the way the negro influenced music elsewhere in the country besides the south particularly in the tradition of minstrelsy. One of the earliest recognitions of the Negro is a contributor to music in America occurred as Ernest Borneman notes in 1782 when a Negro Jig was published in here is a. Selection of Scottish English Irish and foreign areas. That same edition and
1782 contain the first printing of Yankee Doodle in 1784 in his Notes on Virginia. Thomas Jefferson wrote about what he termed a natural musical talents of the negro slave burial and fads that beginning late in the 18th century letters described negroes playing their fiddles in Maryland taverns or strumming their banjos made of flat gourds and strong with horse hair before their cabins. The homemade instruments of the Negro are described in some detail. The temple of the bones quills Fife and triangle also described by the negro rowing songs with their African isms transformed into the dialect and diction of Creole French Spanish by twaddle which Louisiana negroes added some African inflections. Minstrelsy which was to become the most characteristic of all early American forms of showmanship. Began in the city of Boston under the direction of Johann Cruz John Gottlieb born in German Hanover in
1767 the son of a musician in the German army came to England with Haydn's orchestra in 1791. And arrived in Charleston South Carolina in 1795 its further activities in this country described by the French writer of acting in 1796 he married a singer and became a music merchant in Boston. He created around him a small center of musical and financial activity and soon conducted the city's municipal orchestra. He continued to remember the negro music he had heard in Charleston particularly its unusual sonorities and also the negroes use of the early banjo which consisted just mention of the generally and horsehair strings. And so taught himself to play it the banjo by the way probably derives originally from the Arab guitar. Imported into Africa by the Islamic expansion and it evolved into the banjo in this country through its usage by the slaves beginning in the late 18th century. Anyway on December 30th 1799. At the Federal
Street Theater in Boston at the end of the second act of Orinoco. Gruppen addressed and painted as a negro sang a song called The Gay negro boy to his own banjo accompaniment and thus began minstrelsy his first impression of the Negro on the American stage. It was probably not intended as caricature your vanity in a series of articles on minstrels in the French magazine Jazz Hot puts forth the supposition that it has a new emigrant to this country Grabner had only had a chance to see the external attitude of the negro his assumption often very forest of good humor and his use of music to allay tension and misery. So grab his impersonation of a Negro was probably meant as a mark of admiration a tribute to Negro musicians to whom the stage was forbidden or at least largely forbidden at that time. By the way left his experiments in minstrelsy in 1810 as their Ulanoff indicates organize the Boston Philharmonic Society as a kind of reaction against the feuding tunes of William Billings. Which in their
way was and were an early example of the kind of Americans and good patient. Minstrelsy once propelled by groping a group by 1810 almost every American theater featured one more black face entertainer as they were called as of that he says this early minstrel repertoire isn't too well known the probability is that the first performers used a number of folk heroes of Irish and Scotch origin because the folk dances of those peoples are occasionally syncopated and often pentatonic too for that matter. And these areas were revised and heavily syncopated by the banjos and tambourines with bells and cast and that's a knuckleball. It was a kind of syncopation However that was not particularly Afro-American because it was not rhythmically. As complex as Afro-Americans or patient became will come to that and the later history of. The three negroes of the North began timidly to appear themselves on stage once they saw there was a wide market for imitators of their music. The Boston Daily Advertiser announced in
1921 the presence of the troupe of Negro actors called the African company which performed an English burlesque play. Tom and Jerry and the two leading roles were played by whites in blackface. This mixed company was a major exception to the rule. As for that matter was the presence of any negroes on stage until somewhat later. I don't know if there's much point in going into the later history of minstrelsy in detail. I should mention Thomas daddy writes a white musical entertainer who during a tour of the South who had a negro stable workers singing a horse on the refrain of which was We'll about to do just so and every time I wheel about I jump Jim Crow. And that's how that phrase was became current. Later history of it was far less innocuous. Another man whose name should be mentioned is Daniel Decatur and that in 1943 he organized the Virginia minstrels the first really organized black lace company since up to that date the minstrels was soloist or worked with partners and other companies that specialty acts.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Boogie Woogie and the Beginnings of Ragtime, 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, explores boogie woogie music.
Other 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: 55-32-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:26
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 7; Boogie Woogie and the Beginnings of Ragtime, Part One,” 1953-12-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 25, 2021,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 7; Boogie Woogie and the Beginnings of Ragtime, Part One.” 1953-12-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 25, 2021. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 7; Boogie Woogie and the Beginnings of Ragtime, 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