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Here is another example of how by debate constructed they chorus. This one on a very familiar song. I'm coming Virginia. By Tabak primarily via his cornet left a lasting
influence on men like Jimmy McPartland Bobby Hackett both of whom grew up in Chicago in the 20s found on white musicians who came after and on almost all who played with him or heard him negro as well as white I would say. I think part of the cool side sound as it is called for reasons will go into later. The cool sound of much contemporary jazz goes back in part to basics. Through involved connections one being the tenor saxophonist Lester Young the major transitional influence on the cool school. Lester admired Frankie trombone R and musical associate of Becks who played C Melody sax and was also much impressed with his way of playing. As he told an interviewer once it was his tone and his lyricism and beauty of line that Lester Young and for quite a while Lester used to carry big spider backs recording of the blues along with him on
his travels playing it over and over again. This is that recording. To return to the story of jazz in Chicago in the 20s. Let me quote the
conclusion of Fred Ramsey's exemplary some nation of the early Chicago period in jazz ways. Short skirts bobbed hair bootleg liquor the 20s were roaring and Chicago was host to everyone who wanted to roar louder than the rest gamblers racketeers merchants tourists promoters exploiters middleman. The rails hauled in raw material from the west in the south Chicago processed it and shipped it out again for resale. When Louis Armstrong sang big butter and egg man at a sunset cafe he was talking to an audience that understood his language. The jazz man got mixed up with the gang because nightclubs were ideal fronts the band could be playing loudly in a front room with a small dance floor and bar while the boss arranged his backroom payoffs. They were also handy for any other dealy operated under cover. You know all this the jazz men were more or less unwilling partners but they wanted a place to play. All the money that was given them and decent pay and
good tips it also meant long hours and very difficult. Working conditions working in a remodeled dive Johnny duds made enough money to invest in a small apartment house. Johnny once reminisced about the location. It really was a stable he said it was all painted black inside and the stalls were still there. It was just across the river in an old watchman came to guide you over up the rickety stairway to the club up stairs. Customers carried their own liquor and the waiters would get more of all you wanted and charge $5 for ginger ale. They are nineteen twenty six on the peak of New Orleans jazz in Chicago King Oliver had an 11 piece band at the plantation on Thirty fifth Street not far from St.. Across the street Armstrong was sending the crowds every night at the sunset cafe. Well he was in such demand all over town that he found it hard to get around in time to meet all his engagements. He doubled from the sunset to the theater where he was a feature of the show and its orchestra. The Chicago Defender said they are to line Thirty fifth Street with
us. Best is to keep the hot music from scorching passers by. With everything in Chicago getting bigger and bigger by the minute changes were bound to come in the jazz world. The trend as it was at the same time in New York was to a larger orchestra as an individual jazz man found it hard to keep small bands together. It was only in recording studios that groups like Armstrong's Hot Five could stretch out and indulge in the sort of small band jazz they preferred to play. The band at the sunset cafe was large when Armstrong played with taters contained it was a feat as a featured red she also backed by a forest of saxophones violins and show a vaudeville instrument sets. Charles Cooke had always had large orchestras in men like Jimmy noone from New Orleans and Freddie kept by Ed who played with them were lost in the big flashy shows at the dreamland history was the same thing Jasmine could and did play with his production numbers. But the jazz didn't come out the same. So before jazz could sound in context in a large
band another conception of the way a large band should play was needed. And that happened in New Orleans in Kansas City as we'll shortly see. In Chicago music became an outlet for phony sentiment. Modern ballads about tiny cottages of course this was true to a large extent nationwide tiny women and tiny feet could bring tears to the eyes of the gangster who had just taken someone for a ride. It was said of Al Capone writes Ramsey that he like to move into a club with his henchmen in order all the doors closed and bolted and pass out lavish tips to everyone who worked there including the musicians. Then he would request from a popular ballad and said with a moody look in his tense face while the musicians spilled tremolos with as much abandon as 100 on the tip can produce. It is more than likely that the small band jazz that went on record during this period a great deal of which we've heard on previous lectures. New Orleans inhalation God only was good more in spite of Chicago's contemporary
taste than because of it. Four recording sessions gave musicians a chance to relax from Big Band routines. It would have been unusual for a gang leader to walk into the OK studios by the doors and force the band to record mother McCree at the point of a gun or $100 tip. The new strain was being absorbed by something bigger and more powerful than it could hope to be. The large scale exploitation of music through a centrally controlled distribution spell the decline for a time being of small band jazz electrical recording which had brought such improvement to jazz records was also being adapted to other purposes. On November 26 in 1926 the Chicago Defender carried its first notice of a Vitaphone or a talkie showing in the Chicago movie palace show people like David Payton said they're getting ready for the grey haired days as he rode two musicians in all of his enlarged orchestra. He wrote rather who had begun to study musical theory. He could see what was coming. Then he admonished the man and wades
orchestra jazz at once. This was the first time anyone in Chicago had been told not to jazz as a lottery long as he wanted probably. In December 1927 the Chicago Defender noted that a funny electrical outfit called an amplifier box was playing Armstrong's Hot Five record the heebie jeebies in a restaurant. Their only comment to musicians was the single warning to be aware of other early forms of the jukebox began to appear in buff a flats and that meant more musicians out of work. The Musicians Union publication wrote of a jukebox manufacturer. This is making desperate efforts to replace musicians with their infernal machines. Their literature is in the hands of every manager of members of the American Federation of music would be better off to literally burn their money and invest it in anything this company has for sale and quote these efforts. As you know were unavailing in their desperation Jasmine turned to what they thought might be a new Eldorado. They began to pack up and move to New York which seemed to be more and more the source of recording
contracts and study engagements. By 1927 Joe Oliver his band was out of the plantation the café was also out of the picture having burned. This was hard on Oliver who lost his music his clippings and promotion material he had a hard time finding a new job. And when he did get an offer it was for an opening in New York at the Savoy Ballroom. New Orleans drummer Singleton had been playing a long engagement with Jimmy Newman at the nest in Chicago. He was much younger than the first pioneers who had come up from New Orleans and more restless. He and Louis and I'm strong and strong didn't like the looks of developments in Chicago so in these words we loaded all the stuff in the car. Finally we all made a loan on something got 20 dollars for each of us that was some trip we had a couple of vibraphone to tide them on the car and they all got rusty and we got to New York we didn't have nothing. Johnny Dodds stayed in managed pretty well with scuffling engagements all over the south side. Others were not so lucky the pace of the 20s was hard. It killed a lot of them sugar Johnny had been the first to go. Tony
Jackson went Freddy kepp aread body Taylor was shot had accidentally at a party. Ed Benson veteran of the original Creole orchestra was walking down one of the outside stairways characteristic of houses thrown together of slight shabby boards on Chicago's South Side. His long trombone fell out of his hands either the railing gave way or he tripped on the stairs. By the time his friends could get to him Chicago had lost another jazz man from New Orleans. There is a final recorded example of the Chicago Jazz period of the 20s the aforementioned big brother and his son playing a. Doubt it.
To close out those picture of Chicago jazz I'd like to replay the Bix
Beiderbecke chorus line I'm coming Virginia so that you can contrast his approach to the music with that of Louis Armstrong and also to indicate one of the many strains of influence that flowed from the New Orleans negro jazz man in Chicago like King Oliver and Louis Armstrong and that eventually fused with other influences from all over the country led to the. Ball jazz of the 30s and 40s and up to our own time. Jazz didn't by any means leave the Midwest entirely and remained in Chicago and other cities
in there had also been as we've mentioned a partially independent strain with possible antecedents in the south west Texas other parts of the southwest Mississippi that created a considerable body of jazz in Kansas City and the Kansas City experience I'll go into somewhat later as a prologue to the Count Basie band but first let's follow the course of jazz into New York and examine. So far as we can what kind of jazz had already existed in New York since the turn of the century and also what we know of jazz along the Eastern Seaboard. The late Kenneth bright once wrote just as New Orleans jazz moved north to Chicago so the eastern style of Negro playing move from Florida and Alabama up the Atlantic coast through the Carolinas into Washington and especially to New York the loadstone of freedom not only from slavery but of opportunity. It was already established in the Metropolis when the bulk of the Negro population was still living in the San Juan Hill section. It came to general notice later in the 20s when the negroes were repopulated in the present day
area and the Harlem cabarets were discovered by the thrill seeking crowds from downtown. So by the 1890s Eastern Jazz had put down definite roots in New York City and a few old timers left tell us that it leaned heavily on syncopation and employed improve as a nation and thereby it was jazz. I think the clearest way to trace this early jazz played in New York is through the formative years of the jazz pianist James P. Johnson and through a re-examination of ragtime because the 1890s he used in jazz I imagine was largely ragtime with what blues influences had been absorbed into it. Ross Russell writes of James P. Johnson he was born February 1st 1891 a contemporary of the New Orleans Giants who were to fashion the first principles of jazz just after the turn of the century. His mother a fair amateur musician taught him to play a rag on the parlor upright. As soon as he was old enough to manipulate the keys when that had been committed to memory she
taught him another and after that stomps more rags and a few blues. This indicates the importance of ragtime in the early development of jazz along the Eastern Seaboard. More important I imagine along the Eastern Seaboard than it was in New Orleans which is why early New York jazz is far less vigorous and was at first far less influential than the jazz of New Orleans. Ragtime is Charles Edward Smith notes follow the sporting crowd all the way from San Francisco's Bob Rae coast to New York's Harlem not only the sporting crowd because as we'll soon see ragtime in its later revolution in a jazz piano was the music of working class places and dance halls and the rent parties of the poor. It was very much a music of day to day activity. As you remember one of the centers of ragtime was around St. Louis in Sedalia Missouri. In New Orleans when ragtime joined forces with the blues and all the other elements of New Orleans
music alive a vigorous new jazz language was formed in New Orleans for example in the early brass bands and dance bands who could read often would send away to St. Louis cents a day earlier for the latest published rags and teach them to the others who picked them up by ear and improvised around them though as you may recall many if not most of the Creole musician could read rags as written. The significant jazz idiom occurred when these musicians met the Uptown negroes in the cabarets of Storyville and all the various influences came together. Let's review of the ragtime context briefly in an excerpt from Charles Edward Smith's jazz record book playing on the line. It meant anywhere along the Gulf Coast before. These are this is in the late 19th century and anywhere along the gulf coast north to Chicago or to the east and west coast it meant playing and low class honky tonks when the going was rough and sporting houses in Palmira days.
In St. Louis most of the honky tonks were near the river and there were many more in East St. Louis Illinois to the scene of ragtime as to that of jazz many talented and ambitious musicians were drawn especially negroes who are in this field a chance to enjoy some of the fruits of freedom. It was thus that the Texas composer Scott Joplin became a ragtime player. His father played fiddle for country dances and Joplin was taught music by a negro professor. As an academic study only since his parents wanted him to enter a field that was in high repute than that of music his inspiration he recalled vividly many years later was an old German pianist who played piano in a Texarkana Texas honky tonk hearing in Joplin went home and constructed a curious box like contraption that he kept hidden in the shadows of the pool that supported the house in which he lived. This was so his father would not suspect the trend in which is interested driven him. Convinced that music was his field Joplin's studied piano his first teacher being the old German piano player and eventually he got up to St. Louis by 1893 he was so well known that he was invited to lead the
orchestra playing his own music at Chicago's Columbian Exposition. Returning to St. Louis and working there and in Sedalia the young composer played on the line that is travelled in order to earn money with which to further his musical studies he was tagged in St. Louis. Has that diminished fifth man in St. Louis there were several piano players working out for me. Charles it was misery cause the Joe Jordan areas had neither chairs nor piano but its bell system resembled a butler's pantry of some fabulous establishment twenty porters service the alleys and when a bell rang it might be for champagne or a piano playing or both. The ragtime players included many whose written works have survived. Joe Jordan who later went into the publishing business with the W.C. Handy who was a pioneer composer Mr. Jordan of Negro show music Artie Matthews and Louis Chauvenet about whom we spoke in the earlier section on ragtime Chopin was
unable to read a note of music but played by the hour for his friend Joplin. So that the latter might no taters improve his nation's debt that Joplin took care to acknowledge in later years. For one reason or another ragtime was assumed to have been in fast tempo actually a moderate tempo as we noted was more common. Most regs are marked not to be played fast. Show then style included a catch up bass including a consisting of a walk and a chord. His use of augmented chords and tenth and days might be a commonplace to graduates of Juilliard but when combined with a completely intricate melodic and rhythmic style it was bound to excite his fellow pianists in classic ragtime a liquid clarity of melodic line emerge from the figuration of the treble. And this was matched by a solid base constructions sometimes left off piano comping is in deference to those not trained in the art of making two hands do the work of four.
The show then kind of style was a great inspiration to Joplin significantly enough after he himself had mastered the art of rows of ascending and descending chords. Those who care to study the style as it was written are particularly referred to such Joplin rags as the Cascades and euphonic sounds as well as to the many other titles from his prolific hand. An explanatory statement that went along with his study called School of ragtime disclose that ragtime was essentially an improvised piano style and could not be precisely notated. Elsewhere in the country the rag time joined with other musical strains including the blues as it had in New Orleans and variants of the jazz language. None of these fusions were as powerful and as formative at first as that of the New Orleans intermingling but all contributed to jazz. And in the 20s.
All of the geographical pockets of influence throughout the country fused with the New Orleans idiom. As musicians from New Orleans or who had been who inspired New Orleans jazz men primarily met in the big bands and outside of them met with musicians from other parts of the country and traded Elements of Style until all these tributaries were joined in the mainstream of jazz. 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 Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. This is the national educational radio network.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, Part Two
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program discusses the spread of jazz to the Eastern seaboard.
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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Jazz--Social aspects.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:16
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 18; Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, Part Two,” 1954-03-12, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 18; Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, Part Two.” 1954-03-12. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 18; Jazz on the Eastern Seaboard, 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