The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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accent on New Orleans; his second, four years later (They All Played Ragtime, 1950) receded a little from this position ("Eastern ragtime has as long and honorable an ancestry as the others ... it focused at first in Virginia and the Carolinas and then spread up into Maryland and down the coast into Florida, Georgia and Alabama."). By 1953 Blesh, at a seminar attended by jazz experts and anthropologists, spoke of Mississippi and Eastern Texas origins, of an Eastern Seaboard style that "didn't just start with Ellington and Henderson but came from something else," and added that he was "trying to deal with the assumption that jazz began only in New Orleans. I used to think so; I once wrote along those lines. I don't think so any longer/'2
Leonard De Paur recalls: "My mother, who was born around 1887, was completely conversant with jazz as it was practiced by nomadic bands such as the Jenkins Orphanage Band from Charleston, South Carolina. I remember when I was a child there these kids used to come up as far north as Trenton and just play on the street corners in the most nondescript uniforms you ever saw—some sort of jacket with brass buttons and pants with stripes. They would just stand around in a circle and the leader was somebody who could dance like hell—he didn't have to have any talent more than the ability to say 1, 2, boom! and then go into a routine of his own which would highlight the performances. But they did move around all over the country and they played the most positive ragtime you have ever heard. My wife was from Charleston and she said she had known about this orphanage organization as a child there and my mother, when she first saw them, said, *Oh, my God, there's Jenkins' Orphanage Band! I haven't seen them since I was a little girl.*
"This was strictly low-brow stuff—right-thinking people who went to church with starched neckbands on Sunday didn't admit to the existence of this type of thing, but there was an element which really lived on this music; and they played funerals — on the way and back from the graveyard in South Carolina. Even if the graveyard was right around the corner, they would have the band travel all over town advertising this funeral with this band doing what we now call tailgate trombone.
"But the boys who chronicled the development around New