Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Jazz Craze Is On!

Original Dixieland Jass Band, Dixie Jass Band One Step

Frisco Jass Band

Original Dixieland Jazz Band, St. Louis Blues

The Jazz Craze was on, but what, exactly, was jazz and where could you get some? Until about 1923, the ODJB was the only genuine New Orleans jazz band doing any recording. The popular image of jazz was that it was wild and crazy, vulgar and noisy, and created on the spot by inspired musical illiterates. The ODJB, like african-american musicians had for decades before them, went along with the fiction that the music was improvised from scratch on the spot, that it couldn't be written down, and that they couldn't read music anyway.

The association of the saxophone with jazz also took hold in this ealy period, even though saxophones had rarely been seen in New Orleans bands before. The standard lineup in the teens had been clarinet, cornet, and trombone, accompanied by bass, drums, and guitar or piano. (The guitar, of course, was replaced by the banjo during the 20s because of how well the banjo registered with the pre-electric recording of the day). But for some never-explained reason, the public got it into its head that that wild and crazy saxophone just had to be in a jazz band! The ODJB dutifully went along and added a saxophonist to its lineup, and musicians set about figuring out how to get a jazzy sound out of the rather bland natural saxophone tone.

Featured here today are the 'Dixie Jass Band One Step', one of the ODJB's original wild and crazy signature tunes, a tune by a non-New-Orleans group led by saxophonist Rudy Wiedoeft, and a great rendition by the ODJB of W.C. Handy's St. Louis blues.

Please listen carefully for the amazingly hot clarinet blues solo after the corny singing in St. Louis Blues. The solo sounds to me amazingly like the blues harp solos played by Little Walter with Muddy Waters in the records they made in the early 50s! Wow! Clarinettist Larry Shields was certaintly the musical star of the group! You can also hear the bland tone of the saxophonist that had been added...

The tune by the Frisco Jass Band as been added to give you and idea of the not very authentic or exciting non-New-Orleans jazz bands that sprang up to fill the demand for jazz that the recording industry was not really meeting, despite the fact that Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton, and Sidney Bechet were all playing at the time. None of them would be recorded before 1922.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, nice blog, tacitus! Looking forward to reading more posts about jazz.