Monday, February 27, 2017
Original Dixieland Jass Band--Indiana, Darktown Strutters' Ball
The ODJB was still a "jass" band at this point (May, 1917) but soon to become "jazz." This was before "man" followed "jazz"--that's the only reason I didn't say "jazz, man." (And what about jazz women?)
Anyway, over at Buster's blog, we learn that the ODJB is nearing its 100th anniversary, first-recording-wise. For the occasion, Buster remastered an RCA EP featuring four ODJB Victor sides--their first, second, fourth, and fifth--and he got it sounding quite good.
The Original Dixieland Jass/zz Band being one of my all time favorite outfits, I just had to join in the celebration, so here are the ODJB's two Columbia label sides from May, 1917--and there's a fun urban legend behind them. As I heard it at the Gramophone Emporium (now closed) in Edinburgh, Scotland back around 1980, the ODJB auditioned at Columbia (true), and cut two sides (true). The Columbia engineers had never heard music so strange and hilarious, so they spent the session rolling on the floor in laughter (as far as I know, false). Hence, the bad sound on the recording (not true--it's very well recorded for 1917).
For decades, collectors thought the two ODJB sides you're going to hear--Indiana and Darktown Strutters' Ball--were the rejected Columbia test sides, but no. They came after the group's first batch of Victor sides, not before. Nothing punctures a good urban legend like reality, but a cool story, anyway!
To add to the fun, I give you three more Columbia jazz sides--Way Down Yonder in New Orleans by the masterful Georgians, a subset of the Phil Specht Orchestra; and two sides from Columbia's best jazz bandleader, Wilbur Sweatman--1919's That's Got 'Em and A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Early in his career, Duke Ellington played with Sweatman. But not on these sides. They're awesome, regardless, especially the first title, a riff-laden jam tune and, in my judgment, an ancestor of the gospel-style, solo-dominated jams of the big band era. Which, in turn, became the stay-on-the-tonic-and-honk-the-saxophone early rock'n'roll numbers of Hal Singer, et al. beginning in the mid-1940s. Give the Sweatman sides some longer solos (as opposed to the one-measure figures that show up throughout), and you'd have had big band.
To my ODJB tribute: Indiana
Indiana--Original Dixieland Jass Band, Columbia A2297 (1917)
Darktown Strutters' Ball--Same
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans--The Georgians, Columbia A3804 (1922)
That's Got 'Em (Sweatman)--Wilbur Sweatman's Orig. Jazz Band, Columbia A2721 (1919)
A Good Man Is Hard to Find--Same