Creating Jazz Counterpoint: New Orleans, Barbershop Harmony, by Vic Hobson

Creating Jazz Counterpoint: New Orleans, Barbershop Harmony, by Vic Hobson

By Vic Hobson

The publication Jazzmen (1939) claimed New Orleans because the birthplace of jazz and brought the legend of blood brother Bolden because the “First guy of Jazz.” a lot of the data that the ebook trusted got here from a hugely arguable resource: Bunk Johnson. He claimed to have performed with Bolden and that jointly they'd pioneered jazz.

Johnson made many recordings conversing approximately and taking part in the song of the Bolden period. those recordings were handled with skepticism as a result of doubts approximately Johnson’s credibility. utilizing oral histories, the Jazzmen interview notes, and unpublished archive fabric, this booklet confirms that Bunk Johnson did play with Bolden. This affirmation, in flip, has profound implications for Johnson’s recorded legacy in describing the track of the early years of latest Orleans jazz.

New Orleans jazz used to be assorted from ragtime in a few methods. It used to be a tune that used to be jointly improvised, and it carried a brand new tonality―the tonality of the blues. How early jazz musicians improvised jointly and the way the blues turned part of jazz has earlier been a secret. a part of the explanation New Orleans jazz constructed because it did is that every one the in demand jazz pioneers, together with blood brother Bolden, Bunk Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, and child Ory, sang in barbershop (or barroom) quartets. This e-book describes in either old and musical phrases how the practices of quartet making a song have been switched over to the tools of a jazz band, and the way this, in flip, produced jointly improvised, blues-inflected jazz, that detailed sound of latest Orleans.

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Additional info for Creating Jazz Counterpoint: New Orleans, Barbershop Harmony, and the Blues

Sample text

Beulah Baptist Church was established by Ezekiel Warmington. 37 The 1896 City Directory records the pastor as the Rev. E. K. 38 City directories and census returns reveal nothing about Bunk’s music teacher Cutchey Wallace. ”39 This would suggest that he was not only the chapel organist, but also the caretaker of Beulah Baptist Church. Bunk said: “My Prof. was a Mexican; his name was Mr. Wallace Cutchey. He told me that I had a long way to go and a short time to make it in. Boy I got busy and really made the grade.

80 46 Just Bunk? The testimony of Willy Cornish puts the question beyond reasonable doubt: Bunk Johnson played with Buddy Bolden. Bunk, by all accounts—including his own—had to put on long pants to play with Bolden. Bunk can only have played with Bolden sometime after the opening of Johnson and Lincoln Park in 1902. Again this argues persuasively for Bunk being born in 1884. In the end, Bunk’s date of birth is only significant because there has been considerable doubt about whether Bunk played with Bolden.

He said that Bolden was playing with Billy Peyton and “Big Eye” Louis Nelson at the time of the Riot, and that he had left university a year earlier in 1894; he believed that the beginnings of syncopated music also dated from the same year as the riots. 42 This explains the anomaly in Bunk’s dating of events. Because Bunk believed the Riot took place in 1895, he simply adjusted his dates and age to suit. Bunk told the Jazzmen authors that he was born December 1879. If we assume that his actual birth date was five years later than this—December 1884—we now have a consistent narrative that is completely compatible with the available evidence.

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