Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song

By David A. Jasen | Go to book overview

J

Jazz in the Tin Pan Alley Era

Jazz, a hybrid of RAGTIME and the BLUES, first found its way to the general public when the Victor Talking Machine Company issued the work of the ORIGINAL DIXIELAND JAZZ BAND (ODJB) early in 1917. LEO FEIST was the publisher of the ODJB compositions, but while the recordings sold well-as in rock and roll forty years later-the sheet music didn't. The major jazz performer was pioneer trumpeter/vocalist LOUIS ARMSTRONG, who first appeared with KING OLIVER'S CREOLE JAZZ BAND in 1923 on disc and in 1926 on sheet music. It was Armstrong who made singing pop songs in a jazzy manner the thing to do, adding to the jazz repertory.

"Jazz" doesn't refer so much to what is played as to how it is played. The ODJB started with five instruments (cornet, trombone, clarinet, piano, and drums). THE ORIGINAL MEMPHIS FIVE also used those same instruments, as did the Original Indiana Five. Yet these three bands don't sound much alike. The major difference is the way in which those five instruments were played. Intonation, the way in which brass and reed instruments are blown (and touch for the piano, that is, how the keys are struck), make them sound different. Jazz piano stylist JELLY ROLL MORTON cannot be mistaken for any other pianist, for his touch and his harmonic choices are immediately recognizable; he makes the piano sound like an entire dixieland band. He is easily distinguishable from EUBIE BLAKE, JAMES P.JOHNSON, and Willie "The Lion" Smith, each of whom also had an original and distinctive style. As Blake once said, "It's not that I play better than anybody else, it's the tricks I know."

Discs are the best way to familiarize oneself with jazzmen and jazz bands of the 1920s. Jazz in sheet music form, especially the tunes created for bands, didn't sell well, and was a

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Tin Pan Alley: An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • A 1
  • B 21
  • C 59
  • D 101
  • E 125
  • F 131
  • G 145
  • H 169
  • I 217
  • J 219
  • K 231
  • L 251
  • M 269
  • N 295
  • O 297
  • P 305
  • R 325
  • S 357
  • T 387
  • V 393
  • W 405
  • Y 441
  • Z 449
  • Bibliography 453
  • General Index 459
  • Index of Songs 469
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