This is the first jazz record


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/28/this-is-the-first-jazz-record.html


#2

Kansas City helped Jazz’s progression in the later decades.

When I went to New Orleans I saw this band in Jackson Square. A very eclectic group.

http://www.doreensjazz.com/

I have Volume XII. Good stuff.

I can’t really stand the meandering modern stuff, though.


#3

Seriously though it is stuff you have to really be in the mood for.
Also there is plenty of not meandering modern stuff.


#4

And here’s some more…

http://www.jazz-on-line.com/


#5

I’ve seen Ken Vandermark live a few times. One of those times was a very small performance at an art gallery on the North Side of Chicago, just him* rocking out to a stop-motion movie of an abstract painting being painted. That’s about as meandering and modern as I can get.

Also, even though his sax playing is what my mom called “squeaky balloon music” when I was listening to it in her presence, it’s still not super duper avant garde. It’s jazz music, modern but still definitely jazz and still listenable.

I also like Vijay Iyer. Physicist turned jazz pianist. Modern, avant-garde-ish socially conscious jazz. Haven’t seen him in concert though, but maybe that will have to change.

*I don’t even think Kent Kessler was there, and Kessler’s almost always there


#6

The ODJB was racist even by 1910s standards, so I’d rather the honor goes to someone more deserving.

But just because they were first to record it doesn’t mean they invented this stuff. Far from it. There was a long deep musical tradition leading up to this, much of it was even better music overall. Credit where credit is due.


#7

I agree, which is why I wrote in my post:

“Of course, jazz music was actually “invented” primarily by black musicians in New Orleans as an evolution from ragtime in the 1910s.”


#8

I wasn’t disagreeing or anything, just pointing out that being the first to record a jazz record is a dubious honor, seeing as jazz had such a rich history before there were records, and there were many other artists doing the same thing at the time, only better.


#9

Also looking for an excuse to post this very early proto-jazz from 1860:

Gottschalk has always been one of my favorite composers.


#10

How could I have forgotten about this one?


#11

I’d suggest proto-ragtime, as well (I’m thinking of “Solace” for example).

(I didn’t know who he was, nor that he was a New Orleanian, until watching a scene in the first Treme episode)


#12

Did you know that he was mixed race? I can’t remember if Treme mentioned that, but they probably did.

I need to watch more Treme. I stopped sometime in the second season through no fault of my own. I loved the show, and David Simon, but I couldn’t find any of the newer episodes. I will buy the entire series box set if I need to.


#13

We don’t have HBO; I got the discs as they came out. I need to go through it again, myself…

And on a related note…


#14

#15

And of course:


#16

This week is the 100th anniversary of the recording of this record; the 100th anniversary of its actual release will occur on March 7th.


#17

A “dubious honor” is a pretty steep undersell. Rock Around The Clock wasn’t the first Rock N Roll song either, but it is no dubious honor that it was the first one to go to #1. It would be preferable if the honor had gone to Big Joe Turner, or Big Mama Thorton, or Fats Domino, or Chuck Berry. But that’s not how history played out.

Historical firsts are historical firsts, and this was a major one. This record was huuuuuuuuuuge, it sold over a million copies in an era in which sheet music was the major industry and records were still a developing niche product. Its success led to a major change to the music industry; just as Bill Haley’s success (and soon after that Elvis’ meteoric success) led to major change in the 1950s.

In both cases, the fact that these historical markers were made by white musicians is simply a historically accurate reflection of the social barriers in place at the time which blocked out the black artists who were responsible for pioneering these styles.

The impact of the records on broadening the audience for new American musical genres is in no way “dubious”, even if it is a historical tragedy that the originating artists did not profit more directly from this new success (that is too often a sad reality of the music industry no matter what the race is of the musicians!).


#18

Why is that? Was it because Bill Haley and the Comets played whitewashed versions of black music? I wouldn’t say that either rock’n’roll or jazz were exclusively black music, but they were both prone to deliberate whitewashing in order to remove all black influence from the music and make the music more marketable. If a white person or all-white group was the first, then it wouldn’t bother me, but if the music were whitewashed, then it definitely would.

Big Joe Turner and Chuck Berry I could see. Their music really was synthesis of existing musical styles into a new style, much like the early trad jazz music was. Big Joe Turner was far more established than Chuck Berry at the time, having been active since the early 30s. Chuck Berry didn’t even record “Maybelline” until “Rock Around The Clock” had been out for a year and a half. He would have been good, but was a little too late. Fats Domino would have been worthy too, but I don’t think he was as popular nationally as Chuck Berry. Big Mama Thornton was chitlin circuit blues, so not really even in the same style.

No argument here. You make a good point that the artists who are seen as more marketable, and thus get practically all of the credit for popularizing music, are white. This is one among many problems I have with the music industry. Yes, being the first artist or group to spread a music style among millions of people is a huge deal, and I was a little dismissive before. I was just trying to draw attention to the people who originated this musical style and continued to cultivate it and innovate within it.


#19

Yes, you get the basic direction I was going with my thoughts on Bill Haley. Rock Around The Clock wasn’t Haley’s first Rock N Roll style hit. He had already had a top ten single with an extremely white-washed version of Big Joe Turner’s excellent “Shake, Rattle And Roll” that took all the sexuality out of the tune. “Rock Around The Clock” simply builds on that same 12 bar blues style that Haley had previous success with.

Big Joe Turner getting the honor of being the first #1 for his version of “Shake, Rattle, And Roll” would have been a nice way for history to have played out. Or Big Mama Thorton for her original version of “Hound Dog”; which Elvis, for all of his remarkable performing gifts, really did nothing to improve on.

But it’s not how it played out. So we acknowledge the history that did play out, with the good (many of these black artists were way better off financially due to the exposure they were given by white artists covering their music - Big Joe Turner especially, because he did happen to own the songwriter’s credit for his famous songs) and the bad (“whitewashing” as you put it, and cultural appropriation in the case of some of these early white jazz performers who were in some cases even performing the music in black face).

“Rock Around The Clock” did come out well ahead of Berry’s “Maybellene” but it wasn’t a hit when it first came out. The song was re-released after the success of the movie Blackboard Jungle. That rerelease was in May of 1955, which is also when Berry was recording “Maybellene” which would be released in July of 1955. I just gave the shout out to Berry, because while there were certainly rock songs well before him, he ultimately solidified the genre into the guitar based genre that most people think of today. Before him, Rock N roll was better known for the boogie woogie piano and wailing saxophones. And yet, “Maybellene” could only chart as high as #5 due to the color barrier on way too many radio stations. So from my distant vantage point - musical history would have been well served to have honored him with the first #1 Rock N Roll single, but it didn’t play out that way.


#20

Oh yeah - and regarding Fats Domino. Check out 1949’s “The Fat Man”. I’d be just fine with history if we could eliminate racism and let that wonderful single have changed the world immediately on release instead of just through the slow gradual influence it had within the community of musicians that quickly learned and absorbed its revolutionary awesomeness!