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Lecture 4

New Orleans Roots

New Orleans Musical Tradition
In the early 1800s, New Orleans was the most cosmopolitan and musical city in
Beginning in 1817, slaves were permitted to sing, dance, and celebrate in Congo
Square on Sunday afternoons
This became a tourist attraction that enabled whites to get a glimpse of
African musical tradition
Brass bands were immensely popular, especially for weddings, funerals and
Mardi Gras
After the Emancipation in 1863, rural freed slaves arrived, bringing with them the
sounds of work songs, field hollers, and eventually the blues
By the 1890s, ragtime was filtering down from Missouri
New Orleans Ethnic Mix
Pirates, adventures, gamblers, exiles, criminals
French, Spanish, German, English, Irish, Indian, Italian, Chinese, West Indian,
All nationalities living side-by-side
Racial integration was later thwarted by Jim Crow laws in the south
The Creoles of Color
A unique and prosperous community of free people (in the days before abolition)
The light-skinned descendants of French and Spanish Colonists and their black
wives and mistresses
They identified with their European and not their African ancestors
They looked down upon the darker-skinned blacks around them
In the days before the abolition of slavery, some even owned slaves
Creole Musicians
Many Creole musicians were classically trained
They prided themselves on being able to play music for every kind of dancing
In the days before the civil war, New Orleans had two full-fledged symphony
orchestras: one white, and one Creole
Plessy v. Ferguson
In 1890, the State of Louisiana passed Act 111 that required separate
accommodations for blacks and whites on railroads
On June 7, 1892, Homer Adolph Plessy, a Creole, challenged the legislation by
boarding a car of the East Louisiana Railroad that was designated by whites for
use by white patrons only

When he refused to leave the white car and move, he was arrested, jailed, and
The case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court
In a 7 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the separate but equal laws of
southern states
The Impact on Creoles
The world of the Creoles was turned upside down
By law, they now found themselves classified with blacks as second-class citizens
The Impact on Creole Musicians
Creole orchestras which once existed disappeared
Clarinetists no longer had orchestral work and were forced to go into the black
community for work in music
Creole musicians merged their classical virtuosity with the blues-inflected music
of black bands
Together, they would transform every kind of music played in New Orleans
Because of their level of technical fluency in music, the nature of the music
forever changed

The red light district of New Orleans
Referred to by locals simply as The District, it was set up to limit prostitution to
one area of town where authorities could monitor and regulate the practice
The name Storyville is in reference to city alderman Sidney Story who wrote
the legislation to set up the district
While jazz did not originate in Storyville, it did flourish there
It was tradition in the better Storyville establishments (known as sporting
houses) to hire a piano player, and sometimes small bands
Origin of the Term Jazz
The new style of music was called ratty music, gut-bucket music, and hot
Originally named jass, a term said to be derived from the jasmine perfume
favored by the prostitutes of Storyville
Eventually changed to jazz, for reasons unknown
Early Jazz Bands
The instrumentation and size of bands was flexible
The standard band
A front line of cornet (or trumpet), trombone, and clarinet
Collective polyphonic improvisation
The cornet generally played and embellished the melody in the
middle register
The clarinet would improvise around the melody in the upper
register, typically outlining the harmony by arpeggiating the

The trombone would improvise in the lower register, often times

ornamenting the bass function by tailgating, a style of trombone
playing that makes use of dramatic slides from one note to another
A rhythm section of at least two of the following instruments: guitar or
banjo, string bass or tuba, piano, and drums

The Cornet Kings

Charles Buddy Bolden (1877 1931)
Born on September 6, 1877 in New Orleans, Louisiana
The first New Orleans jazz musician to come to prominence
Credited as the founder of jazz
Hailed as King Bolden
Although Bolden was recalled as having made at least one phonograph
cylinder, no known recordings of Bolden have survived
Bolden Lore
Because there are no recordings and only one photograph in existence, we
are left to go on the authority of eyewitness accounts
Boldens innovation was that of personality
Known for his loud sound and constant improvisation
There are stories of him playing so loud that the valves of his cornet blew
loose and became projectiles
There were other reports that he could be heard ten miles away
Credited with creating a looser, more improvised version of ragtime and
adding blues to it
Boldens Decline
Bolden drank heavily
He began to miss gigs
Developed headaches
Began talking to himself
Quarreled with the members of his band
Worried constantly that other musicians innovations would overshadow
his own
He seemed frightened of everything, even his cornet
The End of a Career
In September of 1906, Bolden set out to play in another parade as he had
done for years
Somewhere along the way, he abruptly walked away from the other
His mother did what she could to calm his fears, but nothing seemed to
Six months later, she was forced to call the police, afraid that her son
would hurt her or himself
Bolden would never play his horn again
He would spend the rest of his life in the Louisiana State Insane Asylum in
Freddie Keppard (1889 1933)

Born February 27, 1890 in a Creole community of New Orleans

Played violin, mandolin, and accordion before switching to cornet
Several musicians with clear memories of Buddy Bolden said that Freddie
Keppard sounded the most like Bolden of anyone who recorded
With the departure of Buddy Bolden from the music scene, Keppard was
soon after proclaimed King Keppard as the citys top horn player
Keppard was so fearful other cornetists would copy his fingering that
when he played, he was said sometimes to drape a handkerchief over his
Around 1914, cornetist Joe Oliver defeated Keppard in a musical cutting
contest and claimed Keppards crown
Keppard then accepted an offer to join Bill Johnsons band in Los
Angeles, California
The band became The Original Creole Orchestra and toured the
Vaudeville circuit, exposing the nation to the music which would come to
be known as jazz
Opportunity Lost
In December of 1915, while on tour in New York, Keppards Original
Creole Orchestra was given the opportunity to make a record for the
Victor Talking Machine Company
Keppard turned it down for fear that other cornetists would copy his style
It could have been the first jazz recording
That distinction went to the Original Dixieland Jass Band, an all-white
band from New Orleans
Joe King Oliver (1885 1938)
Born December 19, 1885 in Abend, Louisiana
Moved to New Orleans in his youth
Played cornet in New Orleans and later in Chicago
Was a major influence on younger musicians in New Orleans and
Chicago, most notably Louis Armstrong
Olivers Success
The band Oliver co-led with trombonist Kid Ory was considered New
Orleans' hottest and best in the 1910s
Oliver achieved great popularity in New Orleans across economic and
racial lines
Oliver was in demand for playing jobs from rough working class black
dance halls to white society debutante parties
King Olivers Creole Jazz Band
Recordings made by this group in 1923 demonstrated the serious artistry
of the New Orleans style of collective improvisation to a wider audience
Virtually all the members of this band had notable solo careers
Personnel was Oliver on cornet, his proteg Louis Armstrong, second
cornet, Baby Dodds, drums, Johnny Dodds, clarinet, Lil Hardin (later
Armstrong's wife), on piano, Honore Dutrey on trombone, and Bill
Johnson, bass and banjo

The Music of King Oliver

As a player, Oliver was extremely interested in altering his horn's sound
He pioneered in the use of mutes, including the plumber's plunger, derby
hat, and bottles and cups in the bell of his horn
Oliver was also noted as a composer, having written many tunes still
regularly played, including
Dippermouth Blues
Sweet Like This
Canal Street Blues
Doctor Jazz
Olivers Move to Chicago
In 1919 a fight broke out at a dance where Oliver was playing, and the
police arrested Oliver and the band along with the fighters
This made Oliver decide to leave the Jim Crow South
Oliver started to suffer from gum disease which started to diminish his
playing abilities, but remained a popular band leader through the 1920s
Final Years
He lost his life savings when a Chicago bank collapsed on Black Tuesday
He struggled to keep his band together until the band broke up
Oliver was stranded in Savannah, Georgia, where he worked as a janitor
He died in poverty at a rooming house
Louis Armstrong paid the train fare and funeral costs so that Papa Joe
could be brought to New York and have a proper burial
The First Jazz Recording
The Original Dixieland Jass Band, led by cornetist Nick LaRocca recorded two
sides on February 26, 1917:
Dixie Jass Band One-Step
Livery Stable Blues
Originally marketed as a novelty, the record was a surprise hit, giving many
Americans their first taste of jazz
The O.D.J.B., as the came to be known, were falsely billed as The Creators of
LaRocca wrote numerous vehement letters to newspapers, radio, and television
shows, stating that he was the true and sole inventor of jazz music, and that those
who claimed that the music had African origins were part of a Communist
Ferdinand Jelly Roll Morton (1885 1941)
Born Ferdinand LaMenthe ca. September 20, 1885 in a Creole community in New
The Father of Jazz Piano
Considered the first true composer and arranger of jazz
He often falsely claimed to have invented jazz in 1902
Mortons Importance

Morton was one of the first pianists to synthesize the blues, ragtime,
improvisation, and European forms and styles into a new and original piano style
He wrote and arranged many pieces that became early jazz standards
Morton was one of the first to recognize that jazz was a style that could be applied
to any piece of music
This allowed him to take a popular tune of any style, add the elements of swing
and improvisation and turn it into jazz
Was the first to incorporate Latin influences into jazz, which he called the
Spanish tinge
Early Career
Morton began playing at the sporting houses in Storyville around 1900
Was making between $20 to $100 a night in tips alone
Left New Orleans in 1903 and traveled all over the United States for the next 19
years earning his living not only playing piano but also at various times as a pool
hustler, gambler, hotel manager, and a pimp
Mortons Red Hot Peppers
In 1922, he settled in Chicago
1n 1926, he formed the Red Hot Peppers, an innovative 7-piece group of New
Orleans immigrants
The Peppers served as a showcase for his writing and arranging talents
Although the Peppers never performed in front of a live audience, they made a
series of influential recordings that became the blueprint for the highly arranged
big band music of the 1930s and 1940s
Sidney Bechet (1897 1959)
Born May 14, 1897 in New Orleans
For decades was one of jazzs greatest clarinetists
Is best remembered as a pioneer and master of the soprano saxophone
The first notable jazz saxophonist of any sort
The Early Years
From a young age, Bechet quickly mastered any musical instrument he
Some New Orleanians remembered him as a cornet hot-shot in his youth
Bechet was also a child prodigy on the clarinet
Played in Freddie Keppards band at the age of 10
Prodigy & Virtuoso
A combative and feisty player
Known for his fiery virtuosity as well as his wide and fast vibrato
Vibrato is the technique of varying a pitch up and down slightly to
produce a wavering sound
Perhaps the only jazz soloist who could go toe-to-toe with Louis Armstrong in the
Bechet & the Soprano Sax
While in London, Bechet bought a soprano saxophone
He devoted much of his career to playing it
Was the only jazz musician to do so until John Coltrane

Later Years
Bechet got out of music in the 1930s becoming a tailor, but returned in the 1940s
when the music of New Orleans saw a renewed public interest
Bechet continued recording and touring, though his success was intermittent
Relocated to France
Married Elisabeth Ziegler in Antibes, France in 1951
While in Paris, Bechet dictated his poetic autobiography, Treat It Gentle
He died in Paris on his 62nd birthday
Other Important New Orleans Jazz Musicians
George Pops Foster (1892 1969) Tuba & Bass
Johnny Dodds (1892 1940) Clarinet
Warren Baby Dodds (1898 1959) Drums
Kid Ory (1886 1973) Trombone

History and Tradition of Jazz by Thomas E. Larson
Jazz for Dummies by Dirk Sutro
Jazz a film by Ken Burns

1. Cake Walking Babies from Home by The Red Onion Jazz Babies
from the album The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, Volume 1
CBS RD 033-1
2. Tin Roof Blues by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings
from the album Masters of Jazz, Volume 1: Traditional Jazz Classics
Rhino Records R2 72468/A 26944
3. Dixie Jass Band One-Step by The Original Dixieland Jass Band
from the album The Complete Original Dixiland Jazz Band (1917 1936)
4. Stockyard Strut by Freddie Keppard
from the album Freddie Keppard: The Complete Set (1923 1926)
5. Dippermouth Blues by King Olivers Creole Jazz Band
from the album The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, Volume 1
CBS RD 033-1
6. Canal Street Blues by King Olivers Creole Jazz Band
from the album Louis Armstrong and King Oliver
Milestone Records

7. Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin

from the album Scott Joplin: The Entertainer
Biograph DK 30155
8. Maple Leaf Rag by Jelly Roll Morton
from the album The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, Volume 1
CBS RD 033-1
9. Dead Man Blues by Jelly Roll Mortons Red Hot Peppers
from the album The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, Volume 1
CBS RD 033-1
10. Black Bottom Stomp by Jelly Roll Mortons Red Hot Peppers
from the album The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, Volume 1
CBS RD 033-1
11. Blue Horizon by Sidney Bechet and his Blue Note Jazz Men
from the album The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, Volume 1
CBS RD 033-1
12. Summertime by the Sidney Bechet Quintet
from the album Masters of Jazz, Volume 1: Traditional Jazz Classics
Rhino Records R2 72468/A 26944
13. Cake Walking Babies from Home by Clarence Williams Blue Five
from the album Masters of Jazz, Volume 1: Traditional Jazz Classics
Rhino Records R2 72468/A 26944
14. Tiger Rag by The Original Dixieland Five
from the album Masters of Jazz, Volume 1: Traditional Jazz Classics
Rhino Records R2 72468/A 26944