Creating Jazz Counterpoint: New Orleans, Barbershop Harmony, by Vic Hobson

By Vic Hobson

The publication Jazzmen (1939) claimed New Orleans because the birthplace of jazz and brought the legend of blood brother Bolden because the “First guy of Jazz.” a lot of the data that the ebook depended on got here from a hugely debatable resource: Bunk Johnson. He claimed to have performed with Bolden and that jointly they'd pioneered jazz.

Johnson made many recordings speaking approximately and enjoying the tune of the Bolden period. those recordings were handled with skepticism due to doubts approximately Johnson’s credibility. utilizing oral histories, the Jazzmen interview notes, and unpublished archive fabric, this ebook confirms that Bunk Johnson did play with Bolden. This affirmation, in flip, has profound implications for Johnson’s recorded legacy in describing the tune of the early years of recent Orleans jazz.

New Orleans jazz used to be diversified from ragtime in a few methods. It used to be a track that used to be jointly improvised, and it carried a brand new tonality―the tonality of the blues. How early jazz musicians improvised jointly and the way the blues turned part of jazz has before been a secret. a part of the explanation New Orleans jazz constructed because it did is that each one the well-liked jazz pioneers, together with blood brother Bolden, Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, and child Ory, sang in barbershop (or barroom) quartets. This publication describes in either ancient and musical phrases how the practices of quartet making a song have been switched over to the tools of a jazz band, and the way this, in flip, produced jointly improvised, blues-inflected jazz, that designated sound of latest Orleans.

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Extra resources for Creating Jazz Counterpoint: New Orleans, Barbershop Harmony, and the Blues

Example text

I always carried a tin bucket to school filled with red beans, rice, cabbage & a glass of syrup. Every day at 11:45 we had 15 min at the chapel with Prof. Wallace Cutchey. He was Mexican who played the chapel organ & gave us our 38 Just Bunk? music lessons. I learned the rudiments of music 1st & then singing. I sang four yrs before I touched an instrument. We had two days a week devoted to studying an instrument. Mr. Cutchey taught me how to play cornet. I played in the school band which played all street marches, overtures and waltzes.

There were 7 men in the band (no piano). Guitar, violin, Jim Williams was on trumpet (he used to use a mute), Baptiste Delisle on trombone, Dee Dee Chandler on drums and the greatest bass player I ever heard in my life-Henry Kimball. They played for the elite and had the town sewed up. In about 1908 [This date is wrong; Bolden had been committed to Jackson Asylum in June 1907], Robichaux had a contest with Bolden in Lincoln Park and Robichaux for the contest added Manuel Perez. 85 Fortunately, John Robichaux’s musical library was donated to the Hogan Jazz Archive.

Louis Tickle” was published in 1904; “Oh! Didn’t He Ramble” appeared as sheet music in 1902, with words and music by Will Handy; “Sammy Samkins” was a march and two-step by C. E. Billings, published in 1902; “Lazy Moon” by Bob Cole appeared in 1903; and “Bowery Buck,” by the ragtime composer Tom Turpin, received copyright in 1899. All of these tunes could have been played by Buddy Bolden—but not in 1895 as Bunk originally claimed. Because much of the information about early New Orleans jazz contained in Jazzmen rested on the word of Bunk Johnson, his date of birth has become a topic of considerable interest to jazz researchers.

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