Jazz at 100 Hour 2: New Orleans Diaspora – Kid Ory and King Oliver

As New Orleans lost its commercial position as a major port and blacks fled the oppression of the American south, the cream of NOLA musicians hit the road. All would play a significant role in the development of jazz:
Jelly Roll Morton – 1908
Freddie Keppard – 1914
Sidney Bechet – 1916
Jimmie Noone – 1917
King Oliver – 1918
Kid Ory and Johnny Dodds – 1919
Baby Dodds – 1921
Louis Armstrong – 1922

This diaspora was particularly important because there were no recording studios in New Orleans at the time. By moving to places like Chicago, these musicians got access to Gennett Records in Richmond Indiana, Brunswick in Chicago, or Paramount in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Other musicians settled in New York where they could record for Okeh or Vocalion.

In the next hour we will explore the music of two of these pioneers – trombonist Kid Ory and cornetist King Oliver.

Kid Ory.
Although the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, five white men from New Orleans, recorded in February 1917, it wasn’t until July of 1922 that a black band from New Orleans first recorded when Ory’s Sunshine Orchestra, recorded in Los Angeles. Kid Ory, with whom both King Oliver and Louis Armstrong played in New Orleans, soon followed the cornet players to Chicago. Using mutes and slurs, Ory invented the “tailgate” style of trombone playing that dominated the music in the early years.

Society Blues. Ory’s Sunshine Orchestra
(Mutt Carey-cor, Kid Ory-tb, Dink Johnson-cl, Fred Washington-p, Ed Garland-b, Ben Borders-d). 6/1922.
Ory’s Creole Trombone. Ory’s Sunshine Orchestra
(Mutt Carey-cor, Kid Ory-tb, Dink Johnson-cl, Fred Washington-p, Ed Garland-b, Ben Borders-d). 6/1922.

Kid Ory and Louis Armstrong
Many of the recordings that form the basis for Kid Ory’s reputation were made with in Chicago with Louis Armstrong in the mid- to late-1920s. More Hot Five in weeks to come.

Ory’s Creole Trombone. Louis Armstrong Hot Five
(Louis Armstrong-tp, Kid Ory-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Johnny St. Cyr-bj). 9/2/1927.
Muscrat Ramble. Louis Armstrong Hot Five
(Louis Armstrong-tp, Kid Ory-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Johnny St. Cyr-bj). 2/26/1926.
Not well known as a composer, Kid Ory added the oft-recorded Muscrat Ramble to the jazz canon.

King Oliver.
Joe Oliver brought the young Louis Armstrong to Chicago in 1922, completing the classic two-cornet lineup of the Creole Jazz Band. With the exception of pianist Lil Hardin (later Armstrong) from Memphis, the wholly New Orleans combo defined jazz in Chicago for a generation of young players, white and black. By recording early and often King Oliver became the best known of the early NOLA cornet players, eclipsing others who, like Freddie Keppard were reluctant to record or where not in the right spot at the right time.

“The mists of jazz history don’t really part until the early twenties. So we must accept on faith the information – consistently reiterated by eyewitnesses – that hearing the Joe “King” Oliver band, in the early 1920s, even before it was joined by young Louis Armstrong, was an epiphanies experience, the sort of thing for which a new descriptive vocabulary had to be invented.” – Ben Ratliff

Chimes Blues. King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Bud Scott-bj, Baby Dodds-d). 4/5/1923
In our appreciation of Louis Armstrong, the first great soloist in jazz, it all starts here with his first recorded solo, a confident and fluid line.
Just Gone. King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Bud Scott-bj, Baby Dodds-d). 4/5/1923.

Dipper Mouth Blues. King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Bud Scott-bj, Baby Dodds-d). 4/6/1923.
Although the Creole Jazz Band is legendary for its tight ensemble work and dense polyphony, Dipper Mouth Blues offers star turns for soloist Johnny Dodds on clarinet as well as the open horn of Armstrong and the muted horn of Oliver. “Oliver’s melodic vocabulary was primitive, almost simple-minded, by modern standards. His famous solo on ‘Dipper Mouth Blues’ builds off of a few notes, a concise melodic fragment played over and over with minor variations. Here, as elsewhere, the virtue of Oliver’s playing lies not in his linear improvising but in his seamless blending with the band and, especially, in the haunting vocal quality of his cornet work.” – Ted Gioia
Froggie Moore. King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Bud Scott-bj, Baby Dodds-d). 4/6/1923.
The first of many Jelly Roll Morton compositions recorded by King Oliver.

Snake Rag. King Oliver’s Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Bud Scott-bj/shout, Baby Dodds-d). 6/22/1923. (The Norton Jazz Recordings)
Snake Rag is more typical of the band’s carefully orchestrated ensemble playing, especially the harmonized cornet breaks.
High Society Rag. King Oliver’s Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Bud Scott-bj/shout, Baby Dodds-d). 6/22/1923.
Every New Orleans musician would have had this perennial parade favorite in his/her repertoire, including their own version of the famous piccolo break, in this case rendered on the clarinet by Johnny Dodds.
Dippermouth Blues. King Oliver’s Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Lil Armstrong-p, Bud Scott-bj/shout, Baby Dodds-d). 6/23/1923 (Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz)
“This instrumental blues features ensemble passages and the anguished-joyous solos of Johnny Dodds and a skillfully wa-wa muted King Oliver.” – Martin Williams from the notes to Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz

London Café Blues. King Oliver’s Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Eddie Atkins?-tb, Jimmie Noone-cl, Lil’ Armstrong-p, Johnny St. Cyr-bj, Baby Dodds-d). 10/15/1923.
New Orleans Stomp. King Oliver’s Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Eddie Atkins?-tb, Buster Bailey-cl, Lil’ Armstrong-p, Johnny St. Cyr-bj, Baby Dodds-d). 10/16/1923.
Check out the Latin rhythms in the out chorus!
Tears. King Oliver’s Jazz Band
(Joe ‘King’ Oliver-cor, Louis Armstrong-cor, Honoré Dutrey-tb, Johnny Dodds-cl, Charlie Jackson-bsx, Lil’ Armstrong-p, Johnny St. Cyr-bj, Baby Dodds-d). 10/25/1923.
An Armstrong – Hardin composition, this is a vehicle for a series of cornet breaks, such as must have characterized their live performances.

King Oliver & Jelly Roll Morton.
There will be many famous duets in the subsequent history of jazz, but none so close to the fountainhead – two New Orleans ex-pats, who can both claim to have seen the beginnings of the music, coming together several decades later.

King Porter. King Oliver with piano accompaniment Jelly Roll Morton
(Joe “King” Oliver–cor, Jelly Roll Morton-p). 12/1924.
This Jelly Roll Morton composition was a huge hit for Benny Goodman ten years later. The uncharacteristically spare instrumentation of these duets allows the two soloists to shine.
Tom Cat. King Oliver with piano accompaniment Jelly Roll Morton
(Joe “King” Oliver–cor, Jelly Roll Morton-p). 12/1924.

In the next hour, we’ll continue to follow the diaspora of New Orleans musicians as they flee the repression and economic malaise of Louisiana, leaving the new jazz music in their wake. Join us for the music of the first great jazz composer, Jelly Roll Morton, and the only soloist in early jazz who could hold his own with Louis Armstrong – clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet.

Recordings.
The Norton Jazz Recordings – 4 Compact Discs for use with JAZZ by Scott DeVeaux and Gary Giddens. W.W. Norton 933796
The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. Columbia P6 11891
Ory’s Creole Trombone (Greatest Recordings 1922-1944). ASV CD AJA 5148
King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set. Retreival RTR 79007 2CD
Louis Armstrong – The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings. Columbia CK 86999

Resources.
Brothers, Thomas. 2014. Louis Armstrong – Master of Modernism. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company.
Giddens, Gary & DeVeaux, Scott. 2009. JAZZ. New York, NY. WW Norton & Company.
Chapter 4. New Orleans
Gioia, Ted. 2011. The History of Jazz. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 2. New Orleans Jazz
Kirchner, Bill (editor). 2000. The Oxford Companion To Jazz. New York, NY. The Oxford University Press.
“King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Sidney Bechet: Ménage a Trois, New Orleans Style” by Bruce Boyd Raeburn.
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Ory’s Creole Trombone (Greatest Recordings 1922-1944).
King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set
Louis Armstrong – The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings
Ratliff, Ben. 2002. The New York Times Essential Library of Jazz. New York. Times Books.
Chapter 2. King Oliver, The Quintessence (1923-1928)

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