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The evolution of jazz is. A survey of American art form from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan. The evolution of jazz is a tape recorded feature presented under the auspices. Northeastern University by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. Now 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 had begun a discussion of Leon back a musician of the 20s a Dixieland musician who had evolved a style of his own a particularly distinctive one that was I believe had important later influences. I shan't go into the
biographical details of what bands Bix played for and the like since there was no scope in this chorus for that kind of detail. He was known to the general public as a member of the large gold cat and later Paul Whiteman bands but musically in these groups especially whiteman's he was not at ease. These were not jazz bands though occasionally a few jazz musicians were hired whiteman's large heavy tasteless orchestrations and the non jazz overall context almost obscured the only records he made with white men though occasionally he will flip through briefly and eliminate the tawdry pretentiousness of his musical surroundings. For example a whiteman recording with Bix Beiderbecke listened to this arrangement of a very simple melody of sweet so.
Sure who or. What.
Who. After this. Vocal you'll hear the only jazz on the entire record when Beiderbecke comes in for his corps.
Uh I don't think we need to listen to the rest of the recording. The unfortunate thing is that during the 20s and even later there were many people who really believed that what preceded the Big scores on this record had anything to do with jazz it had not. And they also believed in that ridiculous compilation of Mr Weightman himself as King of jazz. Louis Armstrong recently described politely what it was like listening to the Big Spider back in the Whiteman Band. All of a sudden Dick stood up and took a solo only because and I'm telling you those pretty notes went all through me then Mr Weightman went into the obituary by the name of 1812 and he had those trumpets way up into the air just blowing like mad and my mandrakes was reading those dots and glowing beautifully and just before the ending of the all that year they started shooting cannons
ringing bells sirens were high like like mad and in fact everything was happening in that oh that your but you could still hear banks the reason why I said through all those different effects that were going on at the ending you could still hear Becks. Well you take a man with a pure tone like taxes and no matter how loud the other fellows may be blowing Cornetto trumpet tone will cut through it all. All due respect to the other men. Thanks is best remembered on records and musicians who played with them have told me that as good as he sounds on records he was never captured at his best he's best remembered for the size he made with small groups not for these Whiteman sides often with musicians as I pointed out last week of high caliber inferior to his but the quality of his horn always stands out. Significance is well analyzed by 70 think it's dying. The individual sound of his music has given rise to arguments as to whether he played real
jazz says Mr think such discussions must always be fruitless because they attempt to cut a living down to a mechanical formula formula can define real jazz of jazz as pure blues then the music the bunk Johnson and kid play on their records. It is not often real jazz of jazz is to adhere strictly to what Bonk Johnson and Joe Oliver do in the later Armstrong Lester Young Ellington are not jazz performers. But there is a music that grew out of jazz and resembles exactly no other music. Jazz can be defined but only in terms of a flexible growing art which changes as the conditions under which it is performed changed. And because thinking individuals who are responding to add something new to something old something new is to be judged not by whether it is simply new or old but whether it is a genuine addition to the music. In addition to its human content technique and expressive breath when it is such an addition it is real jazz precisely because it is different and because experiment and change are in the
essence of jazz. Better back as an individual creative mind has about the same relationship to the Original Dixieland 5 music out of which he grew as Armstrong has to New Orleans music and to go to the Chicago version of Dixie. I would disagree with that line of influence by the way I don't think when this thing goes down that grew out of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band but rather out of the stronger New Orleans Rhythm Kings tradition. In any case to continue he stands for most important historical step in jazz the emergence of a creative white man's jazz this is not to say that jazz was there by him. Or in any respect taken away from the Negro It is rather a testimony to the power of jazz music and the great debt that Americans of all national origins to the negro Fellow citizens and I would question and then lay the categorical statement that makes white man's jazz. But nonetheless this theory is interesting to explore.
He continues as both a universal and national language it takes on many national differences which in turn develop and grow by learning from one another. And so it is one of the great achievements of jazz that it gave so many people as well as the negro musicians a chance to develop as musical creators. One of them the explainer back from Chicago days on where the negro musicians have learned a great deal from white musicians as they have learned by beginning to assimilate the world body of composed music. The main influence of course is still in the other direction. There I would agree. The leaders in jazz progress have been mainly the negro musicians and the white musicians have learned far more than they have taught. Yet there's give and take as a healthy approach to the music as to anything else. Thanks was hampered as a jazz musician. There's many of the Chicago players not knowing the blues as a living flexible language. What do you know of the blues was generally taken from records and some live performances such as the Bessie Smith one that he can describe for us last week. That's many effects in his music like those in later
Chicago performances. The jumpy rhythmic pattern the offbeat flare ups are mannerisms their reason for being not seen in the music itself. And it is places in the continuity of jazz and the blues. The rhythmic patterns of his solos are those of rag music with a delayed attack offbeat accents slow phrases and sustain notes against a fast moving beat. His brakes are beautiful in blue concentrated sometimes down to a single surprise note taking off from the preceding corn. He uses the Blue Note all the off pitch feeling has achieved almost imperceptibly by delicate tonal shading his solos derive from the blues style often hitting an interval of a fourth when the ear expects a third delighting the ear with its strangeness and rightness accenting the surprise note as if to hint at a temporary transition to a distant key. His language is not of the deep blue as the Negro people of the South sang them as and as we heard on the davenport blues of last week he brought to jazz music a partly fresh language of his own tender lyricism often the just skirted the edge of sentimentality.
His feeling was genuine. His solos on popular tunes are almost wholly on the chorus as in the new man or the verse chorus relationship a product of the rag which gave New Orleans music so many interesting structural possibilities as disappeared as it disappeared in the Tin Pan Alley songs originally inspired by rags. But these solos of Beck's are beautiful pieces of original creative music tearing up the old melody to create out of its fragments. A music of infinitely greater distinction.
Thanks as writing continues anything goes down as a further stage of his development outlining another path that has become important to jazz handling the popular tunes meant handling the diatonic major minor chords and key relationships implicit in that maze could not be ignored and so to give his music freshness. The musician began playing about with the chords themselves expanding them into sevens and nines adding chromatic notes raising or lowering the tones of traditional sweet chords with the eventual result of the popular tunes themselves vanished from the same musician creating original music out of their harmonic idiom. The jazz musician that is the blues re-enter greatly transformed. This is the character of the in a mist and some of the other big piano fragments and it hints at the piano playing of Thelonious Monk. And in fact much of modern jazz. This is a big spider back playing his own composition in a mist.
That was recorded in 1927 and judge of Hakim describes the spider bank's growing interest in classical music both before and after that date. Going back to 1925 Vic still couldn't read much music although he had managed to hold down a chair with Charlie straight 11 piece band in Chicago for a while. But during the season in St. Louis in 1925 his musical development into waves in the loneliness of being in a strange city banks found time to indulge his interest in classical music and he used his ability to play piano by ear to delve more deeply into improvisation based on expansions of conventional harmony contemporary European composers for orchestra fascinated him particularly debut avail Holst and Stravinsky. In addition to going to concerts they spent long hours at the piano and deserted Barros working out his own improvisations and teaching himself pieces by the Americans Gryphus McDowell and Eastwood lane. Banks always played with a consciousness for a whole tone scale which also appears frequently in Dave you see
and in this period he began exploring the non-jazz facets which would influence more and more. He has improved his ational thinking later in New York toward the end of his life he turned more and more to classical music and playing the piano. He frequently spent the day at an apartment of a friend of his where they gradually worked out a score of you know missed him some other piano pieces the books that develop through the years candle lights flashes and in the dark. It was slow going and aside from these score as books never quite played anything the same way twice he was very conscientious about the piano score as though he had a premonition that something might happen to him and he wanted to be remembered mostly by them the way he has been remembered primarily for his cornet. The published version of in a mist differs somewhat from the recording partly because banks wanted to make revisions and partly because the publisher wanted a slow section just before the return of the first theme. Here is a recording by Ralph Sutton of another
of the Beiderbecke piano compositions flashings. You are. I am.
I am.
That charge frequently made about this piano music as a new thing Goldstein notes is that it derives from Dave U.S. or other European borrowings. Similar charges have been named in Ellington and this is another example of narrow and illogical thinking. The easiest kind of criticism is to find resemblances and transform them into influences. Actually there are plenty of European isms as we saw in New Orleans music. There is no musical purity of some hot jazz seems to resemble Dave you see it is because jazz men were dealing with the same musical problems with which status he was dealing and arrived at similar conclusions. I might add. Duke Ellington has often been accused of being a copyist or at least of being strongly influenced in his early writings by Delia's. I asked Ellington this and he said that he had never heard any Delia's compositions until he had read that sort of statement at which time he became curious
and did listen to Delia as he found it very interesting and as an experiment tried to write in the Delius manner and as he put it what finally came out was none the less my own. And they say returning to basics breaking away from strict diatonic music trying to introduce exotic and folk scales into its texture has evolved a fresh harmonic practices and fresh uses of instrumental tambour of jazz and its own development and its own language begins to parallel the music invention of the musician like Dave you see that as a great compliment to jazz and testimony to its musical vitality just as it is a compliment in these terms to contemporary classical music when it is influenced by jazz concepts. The music for all its real or fancied resemblance is based on a language that is unique to jazz. Though there is no doubt that several of the debut sea experiments did impress upon her back. But as for the
essentially ality of the of his jazz feeling there is an interesting anecdote that his brother Charles recently told a researcher into the Life of Brian or back when Becks was playing an engagement in Chicago with a whiteman's orchestra. Charles visited him for two weeks and one afternoon the brothers attended a concert. Brooks was so impressed by the tone and style. One of the trumpet players in the symphony orchestra that won the sconce concert ended. He hurried Charles out of the auditorium in search of the man and I caught up with the trumpeter on the street about two blocks from the concert hall. Becks rushed up to him and introduced himself told the man how much he admired his playing and I asked him if he would be interested in joining a jazz band. He was very disappointed when the man refused. Later Becks had his turn. He declined an offer to play with the St. Louis Symphony for although he had a genuine appreciation of classical music as we've noted and might have preferred listening to it there is no doubt he preferred playing jazz.
It is likely as said anything goes diamond speculates that Becks might have become a composer had he lived longer studied more and wanted to. In any case his music however fragmentary outlines as I'm strong does in a fuller way. Many of the problems raised by jazz from that Chicago days to the present. Louis Armstrong has written a tribute to Bix. That may be of interest he writes the first time I heard him. I said there is a man who is serious about his music as I am. They didn't let anything to track his mind from the cornet and his heart was with it all the time. I've met quite a few youngsters who as soon as they realise they were good became cocky and thought that they had made the grade so that they didn't have to take their instruments seriously anymore and before they'd realize that they were behind the eight ball picks at an early age was a musician's musician and was
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, Part One
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program discusses the spread of jazz to the Eastern seaboard.
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.
Broadcast Date
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Dixieland music
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:19
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 18; Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, Part One,” 1954-03-12, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 23, 2021,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 18; Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, Part One.” 1954-03-12. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 18; Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, 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