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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is program number six in a series on the roots of jazz in America. In this program we learn how the white musicians of New Orleans took jazz to the world. Jazz began in New Orleans Louisiana some time after the Civil War.
It began uproar back where the negroes live. It was being played in the early 1890s. We know that because there are still a few who remember it. It was played by marching bands on advertising campaigns by funeral bands by dance bands by concert in the park. It is a spirit and it is an art. The art of instantaneous improvisation. There were a great many of these bands in the wall eons and it was obvious and it would be the same
way today that the people would choose and cling to one of the two as the best. The leaders of these chosen few would be styled as the king and if there were more than one then a battle or cutting contest had to decide. There is a steady succession of kings in New Orleans from 1885 to the 1920s from Buddy Bolden on. The style was set the instrumentation and the arrangement of the pots has changed a little since What change did occur was no doing of the Kings it came in another way. New Orleans was a polyglot city a city of French Spanish English West Indian Negro and South American. All of these people had their own culture their own dances and musical past. They all expressed their own cultural past the music of the Negroes did not capture the undivided attention of New Orleans.
Music was a part of that city. All kinds of music opera minstrel symphony jazz blues Calypso flamenco had dance hymn and voodoo incantations people with different cultures and musical traditions don't give them up overnight nor in 20 years without a reason. There has to be a force and influence that has to be a meeting place before a mixing cross-breeding can occur. New Orleans as a city was not that meeting place. All of these people had their own pride in their own music. And no marching Funeral Band with all of its pros a beauty was sufficient reason for the proud French and the proud Spanish and the proud English to adopt the music of the negro. There was such a meeting place and there was such a force and the mixing did take place and the mixing began in New Orleans.
But it was only a beginning. Over 50 years ago has gone by and the mixture has been stirred and folded with many recipes but the cooking is still going on in these 50 years. Jazz has influenced the opera the symphony the Spanish the South American and each of these has influenced all the others. Jazz is not the only synthesis of all these forces. There are as many combinations as mathematics will permit. But we are interested in jazz and in the beginning over 50 years ago all of the other possible combinations were present in any number of other places in the world. But jazz was found only in New Orleans. So with jazz as our thread of interest with jazz as our focus of attention our story begins within the city of the Mississippi Delta. There were two meeting places in New Orleans. One was a private place.
The mass media known as records afforded that meeting place and the meeting place was in the minds of those who listened to these records. The second meeting place was a sorry one. It has given to jazz not only an enrichment but also a reputation. It is a delicate subject but it was important and it did exist. It is a part of our history and to ignore its role would be to deny the truth. It was a place a place called A Story though it was a
section of New Orleans. Some six or eight blocks large which was devoted to prostitution. Here is a description of Storyville by William Russell and Stephen W. Smith
in their book Jasmine named after the alderman who drew up the ordinance creating it in 1897. Story Bill consisted of a dozen square blocks back of the French Quarter. Its principal thoroughfares were Iberville being below liberty Franklin and most celebrated of all Basin Street. For 200 years half of the time under French and Spanish rule New Orleans had been known for its gayety and tolerance of human failings its political corruption crime and vice with the founding of the restricted district Storyville it soon became the most glamorous as well as the most notorious center of legalized vice in history. It was for 20 years the showplace and scandal of New Orleans visitors from all over the world throng the Tenderloin nightly especially during carnival time Storyville was bossed by Tom Anderson whose city hall was his main saloon. The Arlington annex Anderson published and sold for 25 cents a
copy. The Blue Book a directory and guide of the sporting district which listed the names and addresses of all prostitutes and entertainers and many years later Bessie Smith recalled the spirit and degradation of Storyville in a shouting blues. Here are the lyrics. Check your razors and your guns we're going to be rational and when the wagon comes give me a pig in a bottle of beer send me gate I don't care give me a reefer and a gang of gin slay me because I'm in my sin Storyville didn't have houses of ill fame it had marble mansions and all segments of society frequented these Gomorrah halls with life like this. Entertainment was necessary and the piano players found their jobs playing for the walk around. This was the meeting place Storyville. Where white folk and dark quote meet
Maison Spain. And all the other streets in this doesn't block area everyone from every strata of New Orleans society met here for a time during each day or rather night. There was no Columbine musician a legitimate musician or dance orchestra man sons and cousins of the symphony and Opera Orchestra man. They all met and came under the influence of Negro music. They liked it and they went away to adopt the negro style and spirit to their own playing. And that was the beginning of what we called Dixie Land. Dixie Land is essentially the white man's highly stylized version of what the negroes play. But negro jazz benefited by Storyville too. And here we find the
first important role played by the piano. Here is Jelly Roll Morton famed New Orleans pianist. They do have an inspiration that they would do better by increasing the temple. Well I decided that was a mistake and I believe it was a mistake because everybody grabbed the style. I felt that accurate temple would be the right way especially if it was meant for a dance tune. So that was the idea I decided on when I found that the medium slow tunes did more for the development of jazz than any other thing due to the fact that you would always have time to hit a note twice when ordinarily you would only hit it once and that gave it a good flavor. My theory is never discard the harmony. Always have the melody going some kind of way. And of course your background would always be in perfect harmony with what is known today as rips. There is no jazz piano player can ever really play jazz unless they try to give an imitation of a band.
The piano is played by one man a man who possesses one mind a mind that can accept many different ideas and blend them together. Changing preconceptions. A really original mind enriches the past by changing adding culling out and thus the piano always the instrument of composers always the orchestra in a single instrument unable these inventive minds to give expression
to many musical forces. Jelly Roll Morton may well have been right and not merely egotistical when he said in a letter in 1938 New Orleans is the cradle of jazz. And I myself happen to be the creator in the year 19 0 1 because Jelly Roll Morton was a man of genius a man of imagination. And he was a pianist. A pianist who could and did take the styles of many different kinds of people and in his mind amalgamated them to the freewheeling improvising forms of jazz. Jelly Roll Morton had plenty of opportunity to travel to most
of these pianists where I turn around musicians the pianist is freer to move. That is the other orchestra members. He doesn't need to take an instrument. There are always instruments wherever he goes and so Jelly Roll Morton moved. I decided to travel and ride Mississippi Alabama Florida Tennessee Kentucky Illinois and many other states during 19 over three and four and was accepted as sensational and every where there were new influences different national backgrounds and different music. Martin says again in his own ego acidic expression Tiger Rag was transformed into jazz by me from an old French quadrille that was played in many tempos. I also transformed many light operas such as sextet melody and F. Humoresque and so forth. And after the ball back home in Indiana and so forth and all the standards that I saw fit more than 35 years ago and there were many other
pianists in Storyville and small trios and quartets too. So these influences changes and developments brought about the first growing pains of jazz. To quote Rex Harris in his book jazz. As ragtime and jazz impinged more and more up on the consciousness of the younger
members of these families. They began to experiment with the idea much to the horror and consternation of their elders whose devotion to the written note in music was equaled only by their own tag an ism to a music which they associated with vice and debauchery. In passing it would be as well to reiterate the Jazz did not arise from the gutter as so many of its opponents have insisted. It was forced into the gutter by its non-acceptance in polite society. And the sons of white musicians gathered in this great complex of musical experience. And carried into the corners of Western civilization. Jack Poplar Lane was perhaps the first of the New Orleans
negro musicians to form a band with white men in it. He played an alto saxophone and the drums and his band had a quantity valve trombone clarinet violin string bass and guitar with several brass instruments added for a much parades. And it was called Jacques Laine's Ragtime Band all white. New Orleans music begins with papa lane and many followed Alfred lame papa Laine's son had one. There was A.G. Adonis a Ragtime Band and others led by Johnny Fisher shilling yellow known as Tom Brown. Tom Brown's band became known in Chicago in 1915 as Brown's Dixieland Jazz Band direct from New Orleans. And that was the first we heard of the word jazz. Dominic James played Conor and later Larry shields played clarinet and in 1917 the band moved to rise in
Webbers restaurant in New York as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. And as anybody can see the white musicians of New Orleans were beginning to spread the word. When the Original Dixieland Jazz Band left Chicago the great New Orleans rhythm came up from down the river with the great
trumpeter Paul Nez the trombonist and George brownies and the short lived but phenomenal clarinetist lay on the pianist on the recording you're hearing now is none other than Jelly Roll Morton on the move again. The New Orleans rhythm to us. And 1919 the Original Dixieland Jazz Band went
to England and in 1919 the negroes of New Orleans caught up with the New Orleans whites in their travels. By the time the Dixieland Jazz Band reached London it had apparently run out of inspiration for it is reported that by 1921 they were lost in a wild Helter-Skelter of trombones played with the feet. Funny hats and saucepan drum kits comedy the old call on of the white man's minstrels had caught up with the weathering white offshoots of the New Orleans vine. Oh. I 1925 all the great white bands from New Orleans even the
great New Orleans Rhythm Kings were gone from the scene. Their influence was great. They were the source of Dixie Land and we'll see more of this music in the future programs. But in London England 1919 the negroes from New Orleans took over and the little known orchestra of Will Marion cook the southern syncopated orchestra proved that jazz was by no means dead and they were the conductor of the Switzerland Symphony Orchestra. Bernstein exam the answer may have this to say in the review under the name o southern syncopated orchestra. There is an ensemble of authentic musicians of Negro race to be heard in London instrumentalists and singers. They present US pell mell with all sorts of manifestations
of their art the old with the new the best with the worst. It's a mysterious new world which we were acquainted with only through its more or less distant repercussions and which finally reaches us in its living reality. One can hardly imagine a more opportune manifestation and it is to be hoped for our common edification that the British metropolis will not alone reap its benefits. And in that august row was a man we've met before. Let's hear in Mr. Anson May's own words. Who and what this man was there is in the southern syncopated orchestra an extraordinary clarinet virtuoso who is so it seems the first of his race to have composed perfectly formed blues on the clarinet. I've heard two of them which he had elaborated at great length then played to his companions so that they are equally admirable for their richness of invention. Force of accent and daring and novelty and the unexpected already they gave the idea of a style and their form was gripping abrupt harsh with a brusque and pitiless ending
like that of Bach's second Brandenburg Concerto. I wish to set down the name of this artist of genius. As for myself I shall never forget it. It is said the bishop. When one has tried so often to rediscover in the past one of those figures to whom we owe the advent of our art. Those men of the 17th and 18th centuries for example who may be expressive works of dance airs clearing the way for Haydn and Mozart who Mark not the starting point but the first milestone. What a moving thing it is to meet this very black boy with white teeth and that narrow forehead and was very glad one likes what he does. But who can say nothing of his art save that he follows his own way. And when one thinks that his own way is perhaps the highway the whole world will swing along to morrow. Was.
Rank. On Orleans whites had moved across the continent and the Atlantic and Jazz had made a beginning you know a larger society. But the New Orleans story is still unfinished. We must learn of what happened to the negroes and where he went. This has been the six in a series on the roots of jazz in America. Program number seven will tell of the negro migration to Chicago. The roots of jazz is written and produced by Norman Cleary he is the radio and Dick Vogel a sound technician. And this is Norman Cleary speaking. This is the end of the network.
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Roots of jazz
New Orleans: White jazz
Producing Organization
Iowa State University
WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
White jazz musicians in New Orleans take their city's sound out to the world.
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: Morton, Jelly Roll, -1941.
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: 56-24-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:55
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Chicago: “Roots of jazz; New Orleans: White jazz,” 1956-08-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “Roots of jazz; New Orleans: White jazz.” 1956-08-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: Roots of jazz; New Orleans: White jazz. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from