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Big Towns and Brass Bands 25
into his music the same thing they put into the shout songs— not the spirituals.
Do you think this went on in churches all over America?
I wouldn't say all over America, but wherever slavery was practiced.
The Southwest, too, undoubtedly was a proving ground for the same syncopations and improvisations that had begun to prevail in other regions by the turn of the century. All around Texas, Oklahoma and neighboring states there were parade bands patterned along the traditional ragtime lines: a typical group was one in Oklahoma City that included Jim Bronson on clarinet, Andrew Rushing on trumpet (his son, born in 1903, is the ex-Basie blues singer, Jimmy Rushing), Millidge Winslett on trombone and George Sparks on peckhorn (E Flat horn).
The seldom-discussed role of the East in the creation of jazz is emphatically confirmed by one of Duke Ellington s early piano idols, Willie "The Lion' Smith. Bom in 1897 in Goshen, New York, Smith recalls hearing jazz from early childhood and contests the theory that all its developments had drifted up from New Orleans, whose musicians were, he says, unknown to him and his contemporaries during the period up to and including World War I. The following conversation with "The Lion" took place recently in New York:
When and where do you remember hearing the first jazz played?
Well, they always played jazz. We had a famous club in New York called the Clef Club. That was the greatest club in the world.
How far hack did that go?
Oh, manl That goes way back before the first World War; I was a member then and am still a member.
Were there any equivalents around here of the Bunk Johnsom and King Olivers of New Orleans?
Yes, we had guys around that could play the hell out of i horn. We had a trumpet player that was with me by the name of Major; later he was with the first Mamie Smith band. He was a pistol. We had another guy that gave everybody a fit in Ne^u