The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

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

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The search for new horizons in jazz has led to a slow and inevitable broadening of its tonal scope. Though the main in­struments now in use are no different from those employed a quarter-century ago, there has been a perceptible upsurge in the use of those instruments normally classified among jazzmen as "miscellaneous".
That the violin still belongs in this category can be ascribed, as with the clarinet, to the technical difficulties in mastering the instrument; another cause may have been the shortage of job opportunities, especially for Negro jazz musicians. Despite these problems, the violin played a more important role in jazz during the ragtime decades than it has in the forty years since the official arrival of the jazz band. In many areas the violinist was considered the logical choice for the role of leader. Long before the days of Venuti and Lang, fiddlers and guitarists with little technical knowledge but much to say in the language of synco­pation teamed to produce music that may have marked a no-man's land between American folk music in general and early ragtime in particular. There is more than a trace of jazz in the fiddle music played today by performers of "country and western" or hillbilly music; conversely the western sound was occasionally discernible in the jazz improvisations of Eddie South.
South is probably the greatest violinist ever to have devoted himself to jazz. A complete musician, he brought to the instru­ment a technically masterful approach never mitigated by con-