The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

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

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ensemble, but fundamentally the music, generally known now as New Orleans Jazz, is no different technically from what was being played by the white groups, whose performances have been pigeonholed as Dixieland Jazz.
In effect, the nature of combo jazz changed very little during the next few years. It was not until there were more substantial attempts at orchestration that the differences between the white and Negro brands of jazz became more apparent.
Two groups that helped improvisation along the road from its polyphonic origins to a status that gave freer rein to individual solos were the Original Memphis Five and the Wolverines. The former group, recording under a bewildering variety of names from 1922 until the late '20s, usually had as its principal pro-taganists Phil Napoleon, trumpeter; Miff Mole, the first important jazz solo trombonist; Jimmy Lytell on clarinet and Frank Sig-norelli on piano. More dynamic and less stilted, in general, was the work of the Wolverines, whose personnel at first included Bix Beiderbecke and later Jimmy McPartland. In Chicago, a combo led by a gentle-toned clarinetist named Jimmy Noone earned a loyal following at the Nest, but it was the leader rather than any inherent value in the group as such that was responsible for its success. In fact, there were very few small combos in the 1920s that had any lasting importance as groups in the sense that they changed the basic nature of small-band jazz performances. From the standpoint of the frequency and impact of their recordings the most significant were the Louis Armstrong Hot Five and Seven, Red Nichols' Five Pennies, and the various units led by two famous informal partnerships: Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang, Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke. Almost all of these groups were assembled specially for record sessions rather than organized units.
The Armstrong records vary greatly from session to session. Many were reissued in a series of LPs, The Louis Armstrong Story, on Columbia. On the earliest dates Armstrong stands head and shoulders above his companions, who in 1925-7 were usually Johnny Dodds, clarinet; Kid Ory, trombone; Lillian Hardin ArmĀ­strong, piano; John St Cyr, banjo. The real Armstrong combo classics, much more assimilable to the listener of a later genera-