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Big Towns and Brass Bands
barber shop) organized what was possibly one of the first real jazz bands around the turn of the century. According to the tangled evidence available, B olden played traditional themes that combined ragtime with brass band music in the first primitive statements of jazz; beyond any doubt, too, he played the blues. Boldens fate, as it turned out, was neither fame nor fortune, but dementia praecox. He ran amuck during a parade, was comĀ­mitted to a state hospital and spent twenty-four years there, dying in 1931. Some of Boldens contemporaries in brass were Freddie Keppard's Olympia Band, the Original Creole Band, and the Eagle Band, with Mutt Carey and Bunk Johnson.
There were many other areas far from New Orleans where this primeval jazz was being performed by brass band musicians. Asked whether he could recall some of them, Wilbur De Paris replied, 'I've always felt that though New Orleans was a focal point of the South, most of the large cities in various parts of the country also made their contributions and helped to set styles. For instance, the type of trumpet playing that came to be idenĀ­tified later with Bix Beiderbecke was quite common in the Midwest among Negro musicians. I came from Indiana, and I can name half-a-dozen trumpet players who were playing that style. Charlie Hart, one of the trumpet men in a road show called Old Kentuck', was one; another was Frank Clay of Indianapolis, who led a military band as well as a theater pit orchestra. Then there were the Wolfscale Brothers, and Roy Pope, the Hoosier cornetist; and there were clarinetists like King Phillips, who wrote the King Phillips Rag and the Florida Blues. These were a blend of brass band and orchestra men, and they played dances; and they played jazz.
"There was a whole other school that should complement the New Orleans school, and that was the school I came up in. Basically, these men were better, musically and technically, than most of the New Orleans musicians, They got their foundation from amongst the teachers, Italian and German, across the country, throughout the Middle West. They were equivalent to jazz, and this wasn't necessarily the same thing that we know as ragtime. Jazz was growing up in different parts of the country without one part necessarily knowing what the other part was