Jazz Music Vol.1 No.6 1943 0008
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14 JAZZ MUSIC BASIN STREET TO TI~ PAN ALLEY By GEORGE DUFFIELD & JOHNNY VYSE
JAZZ AS WE know it is not the inspiration of a lot of negroes on one hand, or the polished but haU baked publishers living ' in Tin Pan Alley or Charing Cross Road on the other. Its origin is varied and complex; many people and classes have had a hand in its development.
Looking at it in this light, we ?n see that some forms are progressive, while others are retrogressive and portray the pipe dreams-of a decadent and uncultured leisured class.
Jazz is the most complex development that has arisen from the rich store of American folk music. It is developing--addiDg to its vOCl!bulary, its stores of melodY., and technique all the time. It has always and is always borrowing from the more academic forms of music, though not always perhaps their best features.
Its most imponant so11rce 'is the blues--the secular song (prison songs, work songs, songs of love and protest) of the southern and mid-western negro.
But besides this, it owes much to the reels and jigs of the mid-western settlers--the "Breakdowns" of the timber raftsmen, the spirituals of an older age of negroes, and the more modern hot gospelling and Metho4ist product of some benevolent musical hymns.
It has selected the common ormarell, Wne--and with it swept into its tradition the marches of New Orleans as well as many of the older French folkdances. (Tiger Rilg is itseU developed from an old New Orleans quadrille,
It has often been said that syncopation in jazz is developed from the jungle music of Africa. This is a facile but false assumption. The simple syncopation of jazz has little relationship to the negro music of Africa, whose subtle and complex syncopation wouid not be understood by the average American negre. There seems little doubt that the syncopation 0( jazz is mainly developed from the Spanish-American music of Mexico, Texas, and the Carribean Isles. At the end of last century New Orleans was the gateway to these lands, and in its working population had a large minority of negrees of Spanish-American descent.
In New Orleans jazz developed under these various influences into its more or less modern form. Its essential instrumentation was that of the standard brass band&--trumpet, clarinet, trombone, bass drum and side ' drum. This was comm?oQ to street parades and dance bands. On the street parades the band was usually
' augmented by tenor and baritone horns, and probably a second. trumpet and clarinet player. On waggons in the streets for advertising and for dance dates, a guitar and double bass were usually added, but the same men played in the street band and in the dance halls.
In the streets they played the best of the traditional marches. We have many handed down to us to-day that are pan of the jazz idiom. High Society is the best known of these.
In New Orleans it was soon taken up by the white Labouring Classes, mainly Irish and Italian. Their economic level was similar to that of the negroes, the lowest in a low ~ty.
It is hardly surprising, as lain Lang (author of "The Origin of the Blues", No. 2 of the "Keynote" aeries of publications) points out that the TimesPicayune of . New. Orleans di~s all responsibility for the music which has grown up in its slums. Lang asks the very pertinent question "Would you expect the Times to be sympathetic to an an form created independent of bouraeoia values in
Shadwell, Shoreditch, Soho and Saffron Hill?" Jazz in its richest and best form has always been decried by the bourgeois press but its popular hold on the people not only in America, but Britain and elsewhere, has continued.
Hence the necessity for such reformists--who are sponsored by Tin Pan Alley-as Paul Whiteman, Jack Hylton, Duke Ellington and Glen Miller. They purvey paz:t, diluted to a greater or lesser extent, with the sickly sentimentality of Victorian ballad and the trite lack of melodic inventiveness of the Edwardian era. i
TOO MANY JAZZMEN By GEOFF WESTCOTT
The main impression I have received from reading a multitude of articles about jazz, is that they were written by muddle-headed critics trying to survey the work of too many musicians.
Critics have divided jazz into races and schools-White, Coloured, New Orleans, Chicago, etc. Too little attention is paid to an analysis of leading musicians' work, and too much to so-and-so's brass -or rhythm section. Classical music Critics have a voided this trap and refuse to consider second rate material. NobOdy compares Beethoven with the salon music of his day, but the comparison of Armstrong with Ziggy Ellman passes uncensored.
A musician is judged on one solo or his performance in one number, while Dodds is said by many to be corny. Consider only the worth of say the six greatest jazz musicians and 99 per cent. of the futile controversies w6uld vanish. By all means listen to all types of jazz for entertainment, but
Because of this, jazz was forced to fight for its existence and many jazz men lived on the verge of starvation in order to play the kind of music that they, and the people they played for, lil!:ed. You will find them now in the backstreets of Chicago, Kans~or New York, knocking out a meagre living. Others, understandably, have sold their technique and ability to Wall Street. They no longer play the music they like-but they know where their next meal is coming from.
(Reprinted by kind permission of
Challenge Youth Weekly and VoxPop).
don't compare it with the music of the
Finally, times are already too trou
bled for me to say who the six leading
jazz men are.
(continued from p. 8)
and the knowledge of the hard fight he
has had to give them the credit due to
them, shows that he has always kept .
the importance of the pioneers in
I was particularly pleased to no~e
his stressing of the fact that LoUts
Armstrong is greater to-day than ever
before, and his knocks at the cnttcs
who have built up the legend of the
"decline" of Armstrong are well
deserved by those ridiculous people.
Again, his realisation of the impon
ance of the great Lunceford band
shows remarkable discernment.
The translation is excellent, but
there are a number of unfortunate
printer's errors which should have been
corrected. The actual writing is very
fine, and Panassie's turn of phrase
when describing cenain musicians'
work is essentially witty. The publi
cation of this book in England would
be of great value to all jazz lovers.
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