The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
New Orleans—Mainspring or Myth?
years between, on the one hand, the non-musician advocates of some of these New Orleans jazz personalities, and on the other hand, professional musicians who have listened to jazz played by early New Orleans musicians, frequently under the subjective and therefore prejudice-free conditions imposed by a "blindfold test" for which they were given no information about the per­formances. These musicians represent every period from the 1920s to the present and (except for the New Orleans style itself) every school and phase of jazz, from Dixieland through swing to the new era. The name of Andr6 Hodeir is included in the musicians' column because, as Wilder Hobson has pointed out, Hodeir is "at once a trained musical analyst, a composer, and an experienced performer of jazz" and is therefore primarily a musician and secondarily a critic.
The musicians discussed below are the pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton; the trombonist Kid Ory; trumpeters Bunlc Johnson and Kid Rena; clarinetists Johnny Dodds and George Lewis. All were prominent in New Orleans at some point before 1925; all but Dodds, who died in 1940, were part of the "revivalist" campaign launched by enthusiastic critics, whose efforts brought the musicians recording sessions and, in several cases, unprecedented prominence during the late 1930s and early '40s.
CRItics* view:                                musicians' view:
Jelly Roll Morton's playing is That's a tuba in there, isn't it? the definitive jazz piano and rep- Oh, and a slap tongue tenor solol resents the highest development Ouch! I don't recognize this, but of and from ragtime ... he it sounds like something from the broadened the expressive power '20s, Even the Dixie they're play-of ragtime, infusing it with the ing now doesn't sound like that hot elements of jazz and the ... No beat at all—can't even Blues, making ragtime piano hot- imagine how they danced to it. ter and bluer . . .                          What does it lack? It lacks musicl
-Rudi Blesh* No stars.
—Mary Lou Williams (re Jelly Roll Morton record, Red Hot Pepper).
In Armstrong and clarinetist Louis Armstrong cannot be Dodds the greatest one-two compared with his sidemen in