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I am. For. The evolution of jazz. A survey of American art form from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan are. The evolution of jazz as a tape recorded feature presented under the auspices of Northeastern University by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. Downbeat Magazine discusses the growth of jazz from its roots in Europe and considers the musical as well as the sociological forces that shaped it. Mr Hentoff last week I began tracing the reasons for the coming the growth of jazz in the city of New Orleans particularly of all southern cities. As a preface to the place of brass band music in the evolution of jazz I had just begun to
discuss the approach of the descendents of the European musical instruments in the days of slavery what instruments they were generally home after the Civil War musicians from the Confederate army bands had deposited large numbers of musical instruments in pawn shops throughout the southern cities New Orleans included the instruments because of the allied supply were relatively inexpensive and so in time many Negro families especially urban workers in the city were able to afford to buy them. The Creole family is the descendants of people of color in New Orleans. Had already extensive experience for many of them had with European musical instruments experience extending to a point quite a bit before the Civil War. But in some Creole families as well as in the families of most of the descendants of slaves. Money for these secondhand instruments had to be saved a creo And later one of the ablest New Orleans trombonist recalls that at the age of 11
he was the leader of a string quintet in which he had four other neighborhood children and they played for kicks for fun. As he told the story they manufacture their own instruments out of pieces of cork wood and strings of various kinds. The group became so professional that it was hired for dances and various other festivities. The money the children received for their playing was saved for buying professional instruments. And perhaps the best known of all New Orleans drummers describes the musical atmosphere in his house. Brother Johnny recruits to later became the finest of all New Orleans clan edits. I try to hide baby dads to play that I bought but I finally had to turn it over to Johnny. He played it fine and I backed him up with homemade drums made by punching holes in a tin can and using chair rounds for sticks. Those were my first drums and Johnny and I had a lot of fun playing together. I was born in New Orleans on the
day before Christmas one of four boys and four girls. Our family like music that was a good thing and we had a family court that mother played the melodeon and my sisters all played the organ and harmonica. Johnny was a couple of years older than I was and we pout around when we were kids. He was good on the road so there was nothing for me to do but back him out. Johnny was already before I got my first set of drums. Dad would buy them for me because he said there was too much noise in the house. I finally got a bass drum and picked up a snare and after a while had a full set from pawn shops and it only cost me $45. What to do with the instruments once they had them for the newly free. Instructions with some exceptions had to be self instruction though there was a tradition of mutual aid among musicians by which an older more experienced man would teach what he knew to a young
right. Again it was different among the Creoles because Creole Jazz Men are many of them had formal instruction but none creos like Louis Armstrong to name one received training only because they happened to wind up in the waves home and where we once wrote it was hard for us to get formal lessons on families most of the time just didn't have the 50 cents for a lesson and might carry another really well and trumpet players were out you know in the ones on the bridge came up behind rank technical musicianship was apt to be a little poor you see the average boy traveling by himself because they couldn't afford music lessons so that self instruction obviously led to many new ways of using traditional European instruments while the Hobson described what happened in his American jazz music. How.
Many people wrote Mr Hobson have apparently been so confused by the sound of jazz as never to have heard it structured the tone colors of jazz very different from those of traditional Western music. Here it will be seen why jazz may with special appropriateness be called a language. The earlier improvisers were largely without formal musical training. Now in instrumental music the Western tradition in general calls for precise attack and even pure tone with very little of a broad o except in the strings. But the jazz players have not been to school. They were following no academic tradition and they use their instruments according to what they found in them. What they found was a variety of tone not at all legitimate in the academic sense but corresponding to that of the human voice. This does not mean that they imitated the Human Rights such effects as the rapping trombone or the baby cry with the so-called mute novelty as would have no more to do with the jazz
language than have playing the cornet in the flat of the back or pushing the trombone slide with the fourth. Neither does it mean the rabbit theory of walks who manage travel which is the regular tone of some dance saxophonist such as those of them banjos orchestra the jazz players sang with their instruments played them with personal expressive inflections variable between robust roughness and pure body was lyricism. There was a warm natural fluid use of slight slurs and with Sandy various degrees of travelling the Brattle muted effects choked in acrid mellow with natural layers or veiling as there may be in the singing voice in the playing of most of the leading jazz musicians both Negro and white. There was a lot of singing quality even in very rapid tempi In other words that took place what might be called a vocalization of the instruments personal with each player. So anything goes Dan's comment on this phenomenon is also worth quoting. We can understand he says the logic of this approach better when we analyze what a musical
instrument is. It is an extension of the human hand and voice a tool which adds new powers to the human mind and new subtleties to human senses. Just as the invention of the hammer an axe opened up to human beings new possibilities of satisfying their wants. So the creation and mastery of musical instruments opened up new possibilities of creating and using the language of organized sound. The jazz treatment of the musical instrument strikes listen is by contrast a classical music at first as harsh or strident yet this feeling of harshness or roughness is basic to the expressive quality of jazz. When we hear people speak we are actually listening to what would musically be harsh tones even in a well modulated voice. Yet we don't get a sensation of harshness in fact the person who spoke in an almost musically pitched voice of some actor's do would annoy us after a few minutes. Sweetness of sound was never except in some special periods of music a criterion of artistic quality expressiveness and communication is rather the criterion and expressiveness was a matter
of contrasts of the subtle interplay of opposite tempers and comedies. Much of the negro music he continues of the past century was crude which is another thing then primitive and even this word must be used in a limited sense it was a music created by untrained voices and whatever rough instruments could be made of found at hand the jug band the washboard for percussion the banjo one string violin harmonica the music created was a highly subtle music within its limitations. For it had something to say. The limitations of this music were very real. If we listen to a group of folk spiritual singers for example we find that while the music is very beautiful the group knows only a few basic melodic and harmonic patterns. The consciousness of these limitations the desire to experiment with new possibilities that is higher for life and expression has been the basis of all progress in folk music and jazz. And so when after the Civil War new instruments were adopted and these helped create a new quality of music the instruments as we mentioned were for us those of the military band. Many of them Confederate army instruments to be
found in pawn shops trumpets cornets trombones clarinets tubas bass and snare drums the banjo a favorite instrument a plantation minstrel show and wandering blues singers was added to the band slowly replaced in later times by the guitar the piano found in the better off homes and in saloons and dance halls came into prominent US producing a variety of sounds fresh to the ear and true to the basic percussive character of the instrument. However in the early days of jazz the piano was a band instrument was not extensively used because of the fact that so much of the music started as much music later acquisitions where the string bass replacing the tuba and dating principally from the Chicago days the saxophone. When sketching then a history of jazz through its instrumentation I think those dang concludes we can say that the music of slavery was predominately coral with a dance music made up of any crude instruments adaptable to musical use. The emancipation after the Civil War with its comparatively greater freedom of movement brought the choral work song and the solo voice of the blues with instrumental
accompaniment of course the works on went far back farther back than that. To plantation days. The life of the Negro community in the southern city between the 1890s in one thousand twenty isn't restricted ghetto life but on a higher level than slavery brought a communal music of dance and parade in which each instrument was handled as a solo voice but all combined together in brilliant interplay of melodic lines. This last in general is called New Orleans music for in New Orleans the city music reached its free its development in the most concise son nation of all this is that of semanticists and jazz critic Samuel Hiatt. The post-Civil War and they gross tried to reproduce with instruments the styles and techniques of their earlier vocal music. Really players not formally educated in music were not impeded by tradition. They tried for all sorts of the thanks and thereby considerably extended the range of their instruments. On that I had parents that equate that many symphony musicians in contemporary times make a point of going to hear a certain jazz man precisely because of their unprecedented range
and instrumental facility. They grow in the early negro musicians did not follow the late European tradition of separation of the performer and composer in their improvers ations the New Orleans negroes and negroes for that matter throughout the south. Played and composed to a large degree at the same time the music they created was a development of folk music. But now for the first time this kind of music had the advantage of being produced with modern instruments. What do they sound like. Well here is the Gettysburg March recorded in 1940 by a group of musicians who paraded through the streets of New Orleans 40 years ago playing much like this kid Rena on trumpet. Louis Nelson and Alfons be cool planets. Jim Robbins and trombone Willie Santiago guitar Lenny bass and Joe Reno on drums the very names of the musicians indicate the cultural intermingling in the New Orleans of the late 19th
and early 20th century. With. Yes.
Beginning in their deen 80s there were many organized brass bands to
name a few of the Olympia band the peerless band and all these started in the 1900s a superior band the Imperial band The Eagle Brand the onward. Brass band that's been around but there were there's enough work because of the popularity of parades and brass band music in New Orleans for casual assemblages assemblage is created just for the individual brass band date and Jelly Roll Morton and his Library of Congress reminiscences recalls how these were organized to out somebody say OK you didn't call me Gerald and they called me wine involved but I want to involve the parade coming up and such and such a crowd at such and such a club have this that they do. If you want that I can get it for you. Well of course that would mean $5 for a lead and two and a half of three dollars for the man. So by being a leader and that case anybody
could be a leader. You had to do a good job. I'd have to do is get the job and I get the man. What I would tell him a parade we found him very easily. I would go right into town the lawn district right at 25. So around. My brother got a job. Sunday. You'd always known the last few minutes and I had never known front because it wasn't read in all the band it wouldn't have those big ol than I had band Mars I got a job. You want to write of the parade. When running. Everybody to count me in I me in on it I'm in on it. I wasn't in on it for the money so much but that was done then on account of the drink take a drink every time the parade was four or five blocks wide and thought I have a keg of beer sandwiches whiskey and all kinds of drinks.
So that's what is really in on it so they could get drunk going to have a good time of both they called it a bomb. And of course we had that have plenty of fights and see plenty of fights the bars that have all kinds of fights and throw rocks and drum sticks at one another and never try to hurt a musician so it was fun for us to see a guy get beat up some time. So all we had in the band as a rule would be composed of a bass on one trombone and one front but I'm now told that maybe a backbone of clan and bass drum and snagged on the bob 7 8 pieces and we all beat hands and Brad I'm telling you talking about knowledge you never heard no 60 piece band could make as much noise as those guys could make. Well sometimes I'd be playing trombone. Sometimes I'd be playing bass and various out of my plates and I had done because I had that we had to put it tough guy around New Orleans and you're right. He'd always be playing the snare drum and he's a good sad drum
player I thought I would be playing one of the other. And of course every time we get a few blocks we do have plenty to drink and so forth and so on I didn't care so much for the drinking problem. No I didn't but I did like to see the boys the way they used to act you know beat up the hosses go to the get drunk and said I can pick up those hearts and grab its front legs and hold them up and all that kind of a stop and the goods would be waiting from the past the door and give them a general pull Ron everything like that widely read it's Road time and we had plenty of fun the kind of fun I don't think I've ever seen in any other place. Of course it may be nice and fun but that particular time it was never that kind of fun in a place I think on the face of the globe but New Orleans. As was mentioned in the previous lecture the tradition of brass band music had been part of Louisiana life since perhaps the early 18th century. The jazz
historian Charles Edward Smith in the course of his research noted that in 1734 For example when the Ursuline nuns were given a new convent there was a procession combined with a handsome parade and a following their officers quoting from a document of the time royal troops close the procession. Their drums and trumpets blending with the chanting of nuns and priests ahead of them. And the New Orleans negroes and creoles also adapted this brass band tradition and once they were able to play with the instruments of the brass band as I said the negroes used parades and brass band music with great fervor and vigor. And as you will hear considerable skill from Johnson who was playing in those days describes how the brass bands were utilized at a negro funeral. Practically every negro in New Orleans belonged to a secret order or a fraternal society and it was the duty of the society to hire a band whenever a member died for
the deceased and his family would be shamed without a band to play going to and from the funeral. Some of them wouldn't.
I will get to the cemetery.
The POWs were part of the lard would come out the member and some of the Brown family and I would get about a block block from some of my route. That's right.
Long johns and memories of the parades are considerably more joyous
more peaceful and Jelly Roll Morton. As you can see banks use of the word ragtime applies to what the New Orleans musicians did too with a more formal tradition of ragtime piano music previously described what he calls ragtime as ragtime after the Blues and other pretty jazz elements had turned into what we now call jazz with the word jazz. In the early 1900s was unknown to almost any kind of syncopated music was called Ragtime. As for this tradition of playing happy tunes on the way back from the funeral Jelly Roll Morton explained it by saying in New Orleans they believe truly to stick right close to the scripture. That means rejoice at the death and cry at the birth. Well the brass band musicians played in the parades the second line referred to the youngsters as much behind them ran along the sidelines hoping for a chance to carry their instruments sometimes imitating them and toy instruments. And Louis Armstrong remembers. I was very young
when I first heard Joe Oliver. He was in the onward band the brass band they had down there in New Orleans a good brass band about 12 pieces with three trumpets and three coronets. Joe was playing cornet at the time two of them would play lead. There was Joe in many parades I used a second line behind them. When Joe would get through playing I'd carry his horn and I guess I was about 14. Joe gave me cornet lessons and when I was a kid I ran errands for his wife. I could stay at the parade and listen to them go all day. They just knock me out. They come along with codes white bands and band had steel would have cream colored bands. I remember those hot days in the hot sun. Joe would have a handkerchief on his head and put his cap on top of it with a handkerchief covering the back of his neck to keep the sun off them while he's growing. All the cats would be bowing even the second line or something like that in the second line when abroad and Joe was really growing. He'd go way up there you know like in that last chorus of high society. If you've ever had a band play it that's Joe Oliver up and down the road from the. I wouldn't change that solo. I see to it that I get those same notes in my mind because
that's the way it ends up. Those brass band solos.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Influences on New Orleans Jazz, Part One
Producing Organization
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, 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
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:28
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 10; Influences on New Orleans Jazz, Part One,” 1954-01-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 10; Influences on New Orleans Jazz, Part One.” 1954-01-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 10; Influences on 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