In early 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made the first jazz recording. Over the next 100 years we have heard transcendent leaps of creativity and staggering virtuosity; we have experienced the music of crushing pain, breathless romance, anger, exhilaration and humor. “Jazz at 100” is that story – one hundred years of jazz recordings – in 100 one-hour programs that will present representative music from a century of recorded jazz history. The series will explore the broad sweep of that narrative; its representative and its idiosyncratic players; its durable movements and dead ends; its popular recordings and rarities.
Hour 1: Jazz Comes to Records – First Jazz Recordings and Precedents
On February 26, 1917, five musicians from New Orleans recorded for Victor Records in New York as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, bringing a new syncopated music to the broader world – jazz. The new music form had developed and evolved in New Orleans and Chicago, primarily, from a rich mix of sources. In this hour, we’ll be exploring these first recordings and their antecedents – African rhythms, sanctified singing, vaudeville, minstrelsy, blues and ragtime.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 1: Jazz Comes to Records – First Jazz Recordings and Precedents
Hour 2: New Orleans Diaspora – Kid Ory & 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. Many would play a significant role in the development of jazz. In this hour we will explore the music of two of these pioneers – trombonist Kid Ory and cornetist King Oliver.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 2: New Orleans Diaspora – Kid Ory & King Oliver
Hour 3: New Orleans Diaspora – Jelly Roll Morton & Sidney Bechet
In this hour, we’ll explore the music of two more giants of the New Orleans diaspora, pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton, who left Louisiana in 1908 and clarinetist and soprano saxophone player Sidney Bechet, who hit the road in 1916. In the complex racial landscape of New Orleans, both Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, and Sidney Bechet, like Kid Ory, were creoles. Creoles were lighter skinned mixed-race people, who brought conservatory musical training to the mélange that became jazz.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 3: New Orleans Diaspora – Jelly Roll Morton & Sidney Bechet
Hour 4: Chicago Jazz Roots
In addition to King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, The Chicago scene bristled with black and white bands, initially dominated by more New Orleans musicians, but in time a home grown group of Chicago players emerged. In this hour, we’ll return to the Chicago of King Oliver. As the 1920s progressed the Chicago music scene attracted such early jazz luminaries as Louisiana born clarinetists Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds and Leon Roppolo, Earl Hines from Pittsburgh, pianist Lovie Austin from Chattanooga, and Georgia-born trumpeter Jabbo Smith. We will also explore the scant recorded legacy of Freddie Keppard, who reigned in New Orleans as Cornet King after Buddy Bolden, until unseated by Joe “King” Oliver.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 4: Chicago Jazz Roots
Hour 5: Up in Harlem – The Bands
Now we move from Chicago to the other emerging center of the music in the 1920s, New York. While New York hosted small combos similar to Chicago, it also grew a number of significant larger groups and orchestras. We’ll hear from orchestras led by Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, Don Redman and Red Allen. Within these bands, we’ll find some of the greatest soloists of the period – Bix Beiderbecke, Coleman Hawkins, Miff Mole, and Louis Armstrong, who spent a little more than a year in Harlem in 1924 and 1925.
Annotated Playlist and Resources available at: Hour 5: Up in Harlem – The Bands