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The evolution of jazz. A survey of American Art from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan on. The evolution of jazz as a tape recorded teacher 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. This week the evolution of jazz as it occurred in the Midwest and southwest particularly in Kansas City as Charles Edward Smith writes in the jazz record books apart from the pioneering achievements of Chicago and the east. One must acknowledge the significance of the Midwest as a proving ground for much of the best and big
band jazz the territory covered by this development extended from Ohio to the southwest. Many urban centers figured in the story but Kansas City with its large Negro population held the spotlight. Not that all musicians identified with Kansas City came from there. The famous basi rhythm section boasts only one man that is at the time this book was written about a page who was a Missourian and a critic's Clouds of Joy formed in Dallas in 1929 from the personnel of Terence Holder's band hasn't it only wanted two musicians who claimed Kansas City as their home. But for years Kansas City served as a clearing house for Midwest and Southwest music known as a right open town its many cabarets and dance halls gave way to numerous small and large bands settled in 1821 where the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers form a triangle. The city became important in Negro life before the Civil War. Wright was the last stop on the Underground Railroad before a Kansas and freedom. A small instrumental combinations in
which the pianist played from a lead sheet and the others add led for his music and skating rinks in Kansas City as early as 19 secs. However what they played was not jazz nor was the music of the street bands that played a negro neighborhoods. And as a New Orleans and in St. Louis it was the rowdy part of town the pride with the honky tonks 10 shows in back rooms that opened up to ragtime and ultimately jazz. Prior to 1913 most of these places when it were in a district set apart for a price north of seven straight near the Missouri River in 1913 when this district was declared illegal the results encroached upon the unwilling negro residential neighborhood the same thing that happened in New Orleans and Chicago. Especially on such their affairs as 12 and 18 straight. The reports of vanity by society gave names and addresses of sporting houses houses of as a nation and honky tonks. And since the place has remained opened such reports serve the purpose of a blue book. With the coming
of prohibition and Pendergast Night Live Birth and New Orleans drifted into town gradually affecting a momentous change in the nature of Kansas City dance band music again may have point out as I did in connection with Chicago and Kansas City. The original negro residential neighborhoods had no more to do with a kind of honky tonks and sporting houses that were in first into their neighborhood and then did the ordinary white presidential people. But there was this. Here was the negro residential section for the purpose of setting up a city within a city and story then had been. In 1916 Bennie Moten one of the earliest figures in a Kansas City jazz had a private piece band at the autumn leaves on 18th and Vine Kansas City's
Tigi street or a Basin Street or Randolph in a client that is the equivalent of the main streets in Memphis New Orleans and she can go. About that time in 1916 a red light player's car and the backbiters club was flourishing and they had pianist Pete Johnson began his jazz apprenticeship. P. Johnson later played at a place called the Hawaiian Gardens. Where he met Joe Turner and thereby was established a partnership that lasted for over 10 years. Joe was a bartender and occasionally did a little blues shouting on the side who was shouting that had no need of a microphone. Here is the practice Shepard Joe Turner and Pete Johnson in a Kansas City Blues called the piny Brown blues. Again to me.
That any candidate. Young. Known to be in. Your own.
Behavior there are no we do. Anyway. I mean are you one of them. Well. There'd.
Be an. Another jazz mood reflective of the kind of music played in Kansas City 30 years ago. For the record itself was made some time later again features Joe Turner and P. Johnson and other musicians who learned much of their years with the jazz language and again this idea like lives page and Buster Smith that had already Clarence Lusane Beauvoir and baby look at you. Yeah. Are you. Are you.
I am. I am.
I am. I am. I am. You are in the very early
jazz in Kansas City. Thirty years ago none of the musicians had attained the degree of so many relaxed pulsation men on this record as will shortly hear. The gradual development of Kansas City Music took place in the 1920s when Storyville in New Orleans was closed down and many of the New Orleans were by and storming around the country. Kansas City had plenty of worry what with theaters dance halls and cabarets straight afterwards to illustrate rag was named There were dozens of places where jazz could be played. While a prominent names in their late Kansas City Music was such leaders of popular music as Wilbur Swetnam and Leon Harris read many of the significant influences from a jazz point of view whether visits New Orleans jazz man Jelly Roll Morton played there often as did Willie bunk Johnson and a rebel drummer called baby rabbit.
One of the men prominent in early Kansas said he was a trumpet player and blues shouter were in Hot Lips page by tracing his biography. We can see in part how a jazz man developed in that era in the 20s and 30s. I was born and raised lips page says in Dallas Texas when I was a boy. My mother wanted me to be a doctor and I went to college with that idea in mind but I never finished I was much more interested in music. I always like music my mother gave me my first lesson she had been a school teacher teaching general subjects but she also taught music on the side taking private pupils at home. My father died in 1916 when I was still in short pants he had been in the moving business. After his death to help out at home I took to running errands and doing odd jobs around the neighborhood and I began to take music seriously. When I discovered I could make more money blowing a trumpet and shining shoes Originally I wanted to play clarinet but changed the trumpet because it stuck on a brass band.
My first regular chance to play CAN I JOIN what we used to call a kid's band run by a man named lucks Alexander who played in one of the big city bands he was a bass drummer. However he could play all the different instruments and he used to form kids bands to play for weddings parties picnics parades fire sales and lodge meetings. Sometimes he used as many as 35 or 40 kids in the band. By the time I was 15 I was too old for kids bands that was the age limit. So the next summer I began to play for kind of those in minstrel shows touring through that section of the country. In those days before big bands really came into their own shows were very popular everywhere and an organization named used to book shows all over the South. One summer we went as far east as Atlanta Georgia where we played a fair today with Bessie Smith. At that time Atlanta was considered quite a center. It was the town everyone wanted to play. Not enough research online and here has been done as yet on Atlanta as a center in the evolution of jazz in the 20s. Another time we were booked for 10 shows with my Rainey
she took an interest in my playing my writing was the woman who discovered Bessie Smith by the way. She took an interest in my plan and did what she could to encourage me with the result that I got a chance to play with her when she worked at the Lincoln Theatre in New York City. How the mental influence me on trumpet the way Armstrong was the most important I could set today and listen to his heart five records all night the first time I ever had was working on a very. I had heard of the Oliver band and once I went all the way to Chicago just to hear them. Up until then I thought I had heard everything. The next time I went to hear them I had my $15 sales and corn tucked under one I'm hoping for a chance to set in. I've been sitting in it sitting at a table over in the corner and when I started to play waiters and bouncers came running from all directions and I think they would have tossed me out if chippie Hill was on the floor saying they hadn't hollered at them to let me alone. Actually I never had a real chance to spend much time with Louis until sometime later that was in Cincinnati in 1932 when I had met him before I had always been like a
god to me and it never occurred to me that he would ever spend a whole afternoon with me giving me pointers. But that's what happened that day. However before I became acquainted with Louise Wright there were two other men who had made quite an impression on me when I was a youngster one was Harry Smith. He died some years ago out in Kansas City but he was a very fine trumpeter. The other man was being no Kennedy. He specialized in the upper register and he could play the most perfect high C you ever heard. Frequently hit notes much higher than that and we used to say that he had a track record. At least that's what leads to comedy although there is no such thing. Following the early experiences that I have been telling about the kind of those minstrel shows and stage shows for name singers I had a chance in 1928 to join my older brother Paige the bass player. He had a band called Page's Blue Devil King Oliver of course was the chief influence on the blue Dad I was then Jelly Roll Morton and then Duke Ellington in that order. And again we see this
interaction of influences in the formation of Jazz both geographical and personal. We played all around the southwest and when we had Kansas City in 1930 Bennie Moten came to hear us. Benny was a businessman first and last he had a lot of connections and he was a very good friend of Pendergast through contacts of this kind he was able to control all the good jobs in choice locations in and around Kansas City in his day and I'd say that he was stronger than Mc. However he was also a very good musician I reload time and he was an excellent ragtime pianist and he could play along with the best of them that he liked and he was like he liked the way we played and he made us a proposition. If we would provide the music he would provide the jobs. And that's how I became a nucleus for the best band Bennie Moten never had. We didn't as a pianist we already had Count Basie billed AC as he was called and I had sent for bases some time before when a previous man had left us and he had fitted in at the time base he hadn't been out west long originally had come from and was still more or less unknown. Consequently he played when he felt like it.
Often he would just stand alongside the piano and smile. At other times I'd go off and join some influential people in the audience all that was good business except for educational changes and present Al we all stuck together until his death and 1034 during those years we played all through the Midwest and we tried the east play New York City Detroit Cincinnati and a number of big towns and that's one thing I want to say about that band I don't think that any other band of that period says love's page ever brought out the beat as definitely as after Martin died we held a conference and voted basi in his head. The choice was a logical one being a pianist and it always built the band around the piano. So you say that to be a tradition in early Kansas City Music was quite strong and it wasn't until later during the basi period in the city that the beat evolved into the kind of beat We have been hearing on the records both in the early part of this program and during last week.
Here is web page and a group of musicians who grew up to some extent in the Kansas City environment and this illustrates the latter kind of beat. Don still abound on bias on saxophone store Bon out on but bias on tenor and a bare field clarinet op ed page on trumpet P. Johnson piano John Collins guitar. A bowler a bass and I see Godley on drums. This is called the six twenty seven stop. I am.
I am. So you're employing the blue eye. It's.
Good but it. Can't be. Yeah meat. Meat. Was very low key guy.
Was a. Half. Hour. Yeah. I am I am I am I am. This page in that fragment of an autobiography spoken about the Bennie Moten band and about
his half brother the bass player want a page pay for the development of that phase of Kansas City history has been provided by Charles Edward Smith. Whether page the half brother of our inlets page was born in Gallatin Missouri in 1900. Literally grew up with Kansas City jazz at 16 he played string bass and tuba. The former for the high school dance orchestra. And a liner. For the Lincoln High School cadets in 1978 he had a kid band with Johnny a lady who was still playing in Kansas City on piano. Its instrumentation was soprano and alto saxophone bass piano and drums. The following year 1900 joined Bennie Moten whose instrumentation at that time was a violin cornet clarinet trombone piano bass and drums. They were screaming at us today and a man named Hicks a left handed violinist who are from New Orleans. Later at a local theater wrote a page for the New Orleans bass player Wellman Brome whom he considers to have been the most important influence on his bass playing. Here again the importance of New Orleans influence is everywhere in Kansas City as well as Harlem in California
and 1919 page and at the University of Kansas. Take a supervisor course in music but he left in the fall of 1922 to join Billy King's Road Show playing in a band called The Blue Devils. They were right around Oklahoma City toward the southwest the show breaking up and down its page return to Oklahoma City where they had some hard sledding but finally in 1926 was put in charge of a theater band. They rearranged stocks using head arrangements to lead into improvisations. James rushing the vocalist later would they say it was with the band and Count Basie in New York offspring of Fats Waller who had struck out west joined staying for six months both rushing and bass a joined Bennie Moten after leaving LA to page you know writer augmented from 10 to 13 pieces. The band became out of Page's Blue Devils Dan minor attacks and working around Kansas City was on trombone. And in a Minneapolis cabaret they found Lester Young. And this is such a boring tenor a man whose father had been a musician and who had been raised and who had
played throughout his youth in minstrel and Carnival shows. The band now toured Arkansas Oklahoma Texas and Missouri. Breaking up in 1932 when Paige rejoined Bennie Moten.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Kansas City, Part One
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the strain of jazz that emerged from Kansas City.
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
Jazz musicians--United States--Biography.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-25 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:42
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 25; Kansas City, Part One,” 1954-04-30, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 25; Kansas City, Part One.” 1954-04-30. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 25; Kansas City, 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