By Vic Hobson
The ebook 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 publication depended on 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 speaking approximately and enjoying 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 utilizing oral histories, the Jazzmen interview notes, and unpublished archive fabric, this e-book confirms that Bunk Johnson did play with Bolden. This affirmation, in flip, has profound implications for Johnson’s recorded legacy in describing the tune of the early years of recent Orleans jazz.
New Orleans jazz used to be varied from ragtime in a couple of methods. It was once a song 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 formerly been a secret. a part of the explanation New Orleans jazz built because it did is that every one the favourite 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 booklet describes in either historic 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 special sound of recent Orleans.
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Additional resources for Creating Jazz Counterpoint: New Orleans, Barbershop Harmony, and the Blues
Bunk remembered: “Tony Jackson started playing piano by ear in Adam Olivier’s tonk on the corner of Amelia and Tchoupitoulas. ”53 They also played together in Adam Olivier’s band. This is very likely to have been before 1904, when Tony Jackson began touring with the Whitman Sisters, returning from time to time to New Orleans. ”54 While we cannot be certain that this William Johnson was Bunk, we can be sure that this is the piano player Tony Jackson. His entry in the 1903 Soards’ City Directory records Tony Jackson, a “musician” at 3920 Magazine Street.
For the book, he interviewed Bunk Johnson. Bunk mistakenly believed that the Robert Charles Riot took place in 1895 rather than July 1900. 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.
We had two days a week devoted to studying an instrument. Mr. Cutchey taught me how to play cornet. I played in the school band which played all street marches, overtures and waltzes. 33 New Orleans University was Methodist. Bunk made clear that his school was Baptist, and it was “back of ” New Orleans University. The Robinson fire insurance map of 1883 shows a school on Constance Street between Leontine and Valmont. This is directly behind, although many blocks, from New Orleans University. 34 Given that it is likely Bunk attended school until around 1899 (or later), this is probably not Bunk’s school.