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Think. Right.
The word counterpoint has frequently been utilized to describe this New Orleans style. I think it might be more precisely accurate to just say
multi linear but I think while also that while the Hobson's thesis is worth to quoting and improvise New Orleans jazz he says in his book American jazz music there are possibilities which have always been among the chief fascinations of this music for its players. What may be called Jazz and he puts this in quotes counterpoint. The idea of this is often appalled academic musicians who have said that it was impossible or at least that the musical results would be impossible to be sure this would be so if the music had to follow formal contrapuntal principle. But there is clearly no necessity for that. There are still apparently many musicians who feel that there are immutable laws of tone relationship either implicit in the tones themselves or laid down by classic practice. It would be foolish to argue they are refuted. Not only by the constant experimentation with musical forms but also by the varieties of established music. West and East. But many of the appalled of probably not understood that the basic harmonic progression
as it always is in jazz is known to all the group improvising. On this basis each invents a melody guided by his own feeling in the sound of his fellows hear the improvised negro hymn singing may be remembered. And a quote from Valentine Taylor may also be suggested in singing you have tenor bass and so on but in Africa no one sings just one part. You may drop from tentative based on successive notes just because he feels that such and such and such a note is lacking in the hall. He takes it upon himself to supply what others do not. And this happened frequently in the New Orleans front line. Not a linear music of any sort seems to be less easily comprehended than music of a single melodic line with chordal support and jazz counterpoint is a very unfamiliar sort of multi linear music. But for those acquainted with it it may be extremely stimulating. Aaron Copeland speaks of the peculiar excitement produced by the clashing of two definite and regularly marked rhythms in jazz but that for jazz says Hobson is kindergarten. It is common to much of the written popular music derived from
jazz. The treble and bass of stumbling for example in jazz counterpoint However this excitement may be multiplied X times. Here there may be several melodies not definitely and regularly marked as to rhythm but in the fluent jazz suspensions are not clashing but interweaving in a spirit instinctively balanced design with perhaps the subtlest or one of the most varied sorts of rhythmic momentum known to music. I would and I would say by way of parenthesis that it still is not nearly as subtle as much Hindu music I've heard. There has been a good deal of loose talk he concludes suggesting some relation between jazz and Bach. It's so I should now be clear simply that jazz quote counterpoint unquote like so much of Bach has been involved multiple in your music. And this multi linear instrumental quality came as mentioned before. Originally from voice lines. The purpose of the instrumentation was to translate vocal music into instrumental music.
Let's try it with two voices. A. For a.
Tight time frame that it would rain. Rain. How.
Am I don't know a thing. Some years ago when interest in New Orleans music began to revive William Russell went to New Orleans and recorded a group of the older jazz men most of whom were old enough to have heard the story of the old musician Zz and began to play themselves at that time or shortly after. There is such a group recreating New Orleans jazz a note here that
the emphasis on ensemble is greater than in later jazz and then in many of the records I've played on New Orleans negro musicians were not recorded until they came to Chicago with one or two exceptions in the 20s and by then some of the emphasis on this multi linear interplay of the instrumental timbres had lessened and more and more of Port importance was attached to the solo. So this record in some respects comes closer than any so far to the New Orleans feel of the music as it was played in that city in the early 1900s. The song they play is they know inbred joys in commemoration of the picnic ground off like pancetta where many of the New Orleans bands used to play. I am.
I am I am I am I am. I am I am I am I
am I am. I am. I am. I am I am. I am I am I am I am.
One of the best Some nations have what they need. New Orleans was like and what it meant to those who lived there during the hears of its birth was provided by two brothers Leonard and Sidney Vishay. Leonard stayed in New Orleans and became a leading dentist of the city said in a perennially remarkable soprano sax has traveled all over the world became one of the best known voices of jazz he was in Europe as early as 1919 where he received a very favorable review from Ernest on Sunday. And Sidney now lives in France. In an interview a number of years ago Sydney described his dawning consciousness while a child in New Orleans. The fact that there were two ways to play music here remember that while some musicians he had heard played a tune so that it sounded pretty he like the ones who made him want to dance. Buddy Bolden and his boys playing a march during a parade made him hop all over the street. He liked the way that kind of music made him feel. And he played that way I'm south.
Only recently a doctor learned Vishay was talking to a researcher Alan Lomax about the split between the Uptown negroes and the downtown Creoles of New Orleans that Lee went into at some length in a previous lecture said the doctor when the settled Creole folks first heard this jazz they passed the opinion that it sounded like what they call the rough negro element. In other words they had the same kind of feeling that some white people have who don't understand jazz and don't want to understand it. But after they heard it so long they began to creep right close to it and enjoy it. That's why I think so the doctor this jazz music helps to get this misunderstanding between the races straightened out you creep in close to hear the music and automatically you creep close to the other people. I might add to Dr. Bish A's comment that jazz with the inevitable few exceptions has been perhaps of all areas of American life the freest from discrimination of any kind in jazz and man has always been judged by what he has to say on his instrument and they abide by what kind of person he is
as an individual. After a story closed in 1917 jazz to a large extent left New Orleans though a partial Exodus had begun some years before. From New Orleans jazz traveled to many places with developing homegrown jazz and other cities and towns and eventually covered all of the United States. It continued to evolve adapting to itself new ways harmonic melodic and rhythmic new ways of expression and to its present still evolving state. There are those who believe that what happened after this stream of jazz left New Orleans was a decline a growing mechanization and commercialization and over European izing of urban folk. I do not agree. Like every other art form jazz had to evolve or become atrophied its roots in Afro American folk music and
in its initial New Orleans period were and have been so potent the jazz has never lost its distinctively vocalized personal nature. I think it rather pointless to engage in polemics as have so many writers on jazz. As to whether the jazz of New Orleans was better than the jazz of the swing period or that of the contemporary era complex Lee qualitative differences do exist but many are as much a matter of subjective taste as a relatively objective music musicological criteria. Just as some classical listener has greatly prefer Bach to by Takara Albon bag. So some jazz listeners prefer Bessie Smith to Sarah Vaughan or Charlie Parker to Sydney to Shane. What I'm concerned with this evolution of jazz is the fact that jazz did evolve after New Orleans and I shall try to indicate in what ways and under what influences the changes took place. There
isn't the time to do it as is done in many books on the subject. To describe this evolution in terms of many detailed personal history is so much of jazz it is true is the story of its individual voices. But these biographies are readily available as much of the preceding material in the course is not and should any of you be sufficiently interested to pursue the story of jazz in more detail. I shall provide a selected bibliography in a later lecture but I intend to do from here until the end of the Course is to deal with post New Orleans jazz in terms of geographical influences the growth of different overall styles of playing and the changing criteria of jazz performance so inevitably many individuals will have to be sighted some at length. In the days of New Orleans jazz at the turn of the century there was a jazz institution called the second line that we've mentioned briefly
when the negro parade band strong swung down the street they were followed by children imitating the musicians playing tin flutes and other homemade instruments others hoping to get a chance to carry their instruments all lifted and charged with the joy of New Orleans jazz. Many of these second line youngsters later became renowned jazz men themselves. Among them many white musicians. And I'd like to talk briefly about white New Orleans jazz I don't like to use these differentiating terms but it is necessary when speaking about early jazz because jazz began largely as a negro music over the years more and more white musicians began to become proficient in it until now after having been exposed to it until now it is impossible to talk of jazz in terms of color. The best contemporary jazz men are both Negro and white but in the New Orleans of 50 years ago the first White Jazz was largely derivative. Just as Negro children without the money to buy regular instruments would improvise with often amazing ingenuity
from jugs and barrels and wash tubs so young children organized rather chaotic groups composed of homemade instruments. There was the spasm band here but as Ray describes them there were seven members besides the manager and principal organizer who was the singer of the outfit Harry Gregson he crooned the popular songs of the day through a piece of gas pipe. Since he couldn't afford a proper megaphone the musicians were otherwise stale bread Charlie who played a fiddle made out of a cigar box with a known better as occasion who performed upon the harmonica Charlie Stein who manipulated an old cattle a cow bell a gourd filled with pebbles and other traps and in later life became a famous drummer Chinee who smote the bull fiddle at first half a barrel and later a conference shaped contraption built by the boy is a man name one gravey another man called Whiskey and Frank
Lucy known as Monk. The three last name played whistles and various horns most of them homemade and each had at least three instruments upon which he alternated Kasia and stale bread Charlie could play tunes upon the harmonica and the fiddle and the others contributed whatever sounds chanced to come from their instrument. The spasm then continues as Bray first appeared in New Orleans about 1895 and for several years the boys picked up many an honest penny playing in front of the theaters in saloons and in the houses and with a few formal engagements at West and Grand Opera House and other resorts. When they were advertised as the Razzie Daz a spasm band their climactic moment came when they serenaded Sarah Bernhardt who expressed according to the chroniclers of the time amazement and gave them each a coin. About 1900 the date is uncertain. Jack Robinson owner of the Haymarket dance
hall and custom house street between Duffy and bourbon engaged a band of experienced adult musicians who imitated the antics and contortions of the spasmed band and moreover use their billing as a spasm band when the members of the original spasmed band appeared at the Haymarket with their hands in pockets filled with stones and bricks and made a violent protest. Robinson repainted his advertising play cards to read jazz a jazz band. One of the first appearances of the word jazz. They probably sounded something like this. The instrumentation here is wood blocks washboard cowbell stringed instruments some kind of banjo or ukulele mandolin together with a kazoo a cowbell a jug and a whistle. Ok I am
OK. I am I am. I am OK. I am OK. I am I am. I am OK. OK. I am.
Charles Edward Smith in the book Jasmine provides this account of the early Genesis of white New Orleans jazz improvised music introduced into New Orleans white music through the influence of Uptown negroes had by the latter part of the 19th century become as traditional for some groups of white musicians as had brass band music. Though the music itself might give the clue many people are unaware that the majority of early ragtime musicians also played in brass bands they played by note from marches and played by note. And some of the more sedate balls but had plenty of opportunity to play by ear at house parties at the racetrack or in the district previously whole families have played written music and in some instances like that of the Rapalo family Leandro Polo a prominent New Orleans white clarinetist was grandfather had been a famous clarinet player in Sicily. They were merely carrying on a tradition brought with them from the mother country. But with many of the Italian and German families as well the Creole negroes it was shocking to see a younger generation neglecting its reading of music
not reading at all in some extreme cases and in many others just reading enough to get by. Well continue this evolution of white New Orleans jazz next week. You have been listening to the evolution of jazz. I recorded series prepared and produced by Nat Hentoff under the auspices of Northeastern University and presented by the Law Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. The evolution of jazz was recorded in the Boston studios of WGBH FM. If this is the national educational radio network. But.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Dixieland, Part Two
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two, talks about the emergence of white jazz musicians in New Orleans, as well as the unique influences that they brought to 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.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Dixieland music--Louisiana.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:47
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 13; Dixieland, Part Two,” 1954-02-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 13; Dixieland, Part Two.” 1954-02-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 13; Dixieland, Part Two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from