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
The term "combo," in common use for the past twenty years among jazz musicians, is usually employed to distinguish be­tween the small group, ranging generally from trio to octet size, and the full orchestra. In the early decades of jazz no such dis­tinction was required, for as we have seen, the typical brass bands, and the ragtime bands that stemmed directly from them, rarely comprised more than seven musicians. The earliest combo jazz of which we have any first-hand evidence, in the form of phonograph records, is the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, a grandchild of the bands Jack "Papa" Laine had led in New Orleans. A group known originally as Brown's Dixieland Band, led by a trombonist named Tom Brown and featuring mainly men who had worked with Laine in New Orleans, came to Chicago and, legend has it, was smeared by local musicians who tried to brand it as a "jass" band. Since the word at that time had sexual connotations as a verb, local musicians' union officials attempted to remove this word from the billing; but it was not long before "jazz," no matter which way it was spelled, had an important and commercially valuable meaning as an adjective and noun.
Nick LaRocca, a cornetist, followed Brown to Chicago in 1916. With him were Henry Ragas, a pianist; trombonist Eddie "Daddy" Edwards, and Alcide ''Yellow" Nunez, who played clarinet. Later LaRocca moved to New York, trading Nunez for Larry Shields, the clarinetist in Brown's band. Early in 1917 LaRocca, Shields, Edwards, Ragas and a nineteen-year-old