Skip to main content

Dig A-Jazz: Appreciating the Music Now in Viral Format: Sum Jazz Cats and Blues Songbirds

  • Author:
  • Updated date:
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Jazz's best innovator. It was like his trumpet was an extension of his voice

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Jazz's best innovator. It was like his trumpet was an extension of his voice

Sidney Betchet successfully composed in jazz, pot-tune, and extended concert work forms. He knew how to read music, but chose not to, he developed his own fingering and never played section parts in a big band or swing-style combo.

Sidney Betchet successfully composed in jazz, pot-tune, and extended concert work forms. He knew how to read music, but chose not to, he developed his own fingering and never played section parts in a big band or swing-style combo.

Duke Ellington sought out musicicins who could contribute distnctively to his band. His music is defined by muted brass instruments, and high wailing clarinet; distinctive harmonies; his unique piano playing and an unusual combinations of instruments

Duke Ellington sought out musicicins who could contribute distnctively to his band. His music is defined by muted brass instruments, and high wailing clarinet; distinctive harmonies; his unique piano playing and an unusual combinations of instruments

Jelly Roll Morton singlehandedly delivered solo piano performances with such textural variety, contrapuntal melody, and an incredible rhythmic drive and swing. He also combined classical, ragtime, blues and Caribbean influences, and was a composer an

Jelly Roll Morton singlehandedly delivered solo piano performances with such textural variety, contrapuntal melody, and an incredible rhythmic drive and swing. He also combined classical, ragtime, blues and Caribbean influences, and was a composer an

 Fats Waller was known for his classic compositions and freed his left hand of the Harlem Stride Style from its rigid rhythmic structure, which allowed it to serve a more sophisticated and integrated part of the musical display.

Fats Waller was known for his classic compositions and freed his left hand of the Harlem Stride Style from its rigid rhythmic structure, which allowed it to serve a more sophisticated and integrated part of the musical display.

Count Basie is remembered by many who worked with him as being considerate of musicians and their opinion, modest, relaxed, fun loving, drily-witty, and always enthusiastic about his music. He said that  he thinks that the band can really swing when

Count Basie is remembered by many who worked with him as being considerate of musicians and their opinion, modest, relaxed, fun loving, drily-witty, and always enthusiastic about his music. He said that he thinks that the band can really swing when

Was a leader in developing Bebop, a form of jazz characterized  by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation based on  harmonic structure DeleteCaption:  Image size:  DeleteCaption:  Image size:  DeleteCaption:  Image size:  DeleteCaption:

Was a leader in developing Bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation based on harmonic structure DeleteCaption: Image size: DeleteCaption: Image size: DeleteCaption: Image size: DeleteCaption:

Al Grey and the Statesmen Of Jazz

Al Grey and the Statesmen Of Jazz

Ida Cox, The Uncrowned Queen of the Blues

Ida Cox, The Uncrowned Queen of the Blues

Lucille Hegamin

Lucille Hegamin

Rosa Henderson

Rosa Henderson

Bertha "Chippie" Hill

Bertha "Chippie" Hill

Sara Martin, "The Colored Sophie Tucker"

Sara Martin, "The Colored Sophie Tucker"

Trixie Smith

Trixie Smith

Lizzie Miles

Lizzie Miles

Old Cats and Young Lions

SIDE A

Jazz appreciation is one of the most least talked about subject and it is a way of life that is still going on in the world. Jazz appreciation, or listening to jazz, and reading about it is one of the cornerstones of jazzing or jazz-netting, or jazz-hanging and listening, i.e., where we all meet as Jazz lovers and 'dig' and read the threads on the sleeves or jacket of the album or CD - nowadays on the video and the Internet. Today with so many genres of popular music, Jazz is no more at the pinnacle of all music.

Nonetheless, we will appreciate some artist and their feats, influence and compositions. We will dig Jazz by recognizing some giants and understand their humanity beneath soulful, rhythmic and spiritual jazz rendering. Jazz is the kind of music that lets you hold and lay back and let the music speak for itself and the artist show you where he/she is coming from, and how his/her life inspired this kind of music.

Jazz Music is without flaw and the artist made recordings that were signposts marking high points, and churning points and moments of sheer genius. In short, their music required a lot of listening and reading; their lives need to be known in some depth to be able to appreciate their artfully soulful/spiritual renditions

We had Explosive drummers who were funky; pianists with unusual signatures; some had mesmerizing and and beautiful melodies and riffs; others crossed different musical genres; one gets to listen to superb composers and arrangers who knew how to put together monster arrangements and improvisation; then there were those who managed to define their instruments in tandem with the jazz music composition and performance.

Scroll to Continue

We had and still have musicians who have a serene touch and wonderful innovative ideas; there are artists who worked from simple structures and they laid out wonderfully and lyrical and extended improvisations; then there was the spiritually moving and uplifting recordings imbued with the celebration of divine love, with equal measures of devotion and exploration rendered by the artists.

We should by now be aware that the folklore of black Southerners was a process of artistic communication, exemplified in recurring performances of music, folk tales, and material culture. These performances reflect both continuity with Africa and creativity in the New World. The oral traditions of black southerners included creole language such as Gullah and a variety of dialects generally known as "lack speech." Southern black people's speech has also included special linguistic forms such as jive talk, with African-derived slang words such as "guy," "jive," "hip," and "dig" and so forth.

More especially notable red such known forms such as rapping, toasting and ritualized linguistic interactions such as signifying and playing the dozens. Bakari Kitwana put it this way in explaining rap music in 1994: "The development of rap music and other forms of black music is a discussion that is often intense, and it never fails to generate a colorful range of emotions and opinions. This is a debate that can be heard in our homes and schools, in barbershops, beauty shop,and coffee shops,at work,alongside basketball courts, our playgrounds and in Congress. However, much of what has been said, written and continuously discussed opens a lager void than it fills."

Jazz Origins and Influences

Jazz is commonly thought to have begun around the turn of the century, but the roots of where jazz originates from are much older. Blues is the parent of all legitimate jazz, and it is impossible to say how old Blues is - certainly no older than the presence of Africans in the United States. It is a native American music, the product of the black man in this country: or to put it more exactly, blues could not exist if the African Captives had not become American Captives (LeRoi Jones) [At this point, it would be important to read about the Gnawa Master Musicians] in the Hub, "Music is the Soundtrack of Our Lives: Breaking and Breaching The Musical Sound Barrier."

The immediate predecessors of Blues were the African Americans/American Negro work song, which had their musical origins in West Africa/ (and North Africa- ala Gnawa Musicians of Morocco). The religious music of the Africans in America also originates from the same African music. Afro-American work songs came came about more quickly in slavery than any other type of song, because even if the individual who sang it was no longer working for himself, most of the physical impetuses that suggested that particular type of singing were still present.

So, the music which formed the link between pure African music and the music which developed after the African slaves in the United States had had a chance to become exposed to some degree of Euro-American culture was that which contained the greatest number of Africanisms and yet was foreign to Africa. And this was the music of the second-generation of slaves, their work songs. The African slave had sung African chants and litanies in those American fields.

His sons and daughters, and their children, began to use America as a reference. As late as the nineteenth century, pure African songs could be heard, and pure, African dances seen in the Southern United States. Congo Square, in New Orleans, would nightly rock the "master Drums" of new African arrivals. In places like Haiti, Guyana, these drums still do remind the West that the black man came from Africa, not Howard University.

Bakari Kitwane adds his analysis,which is part of the discussion that takes place between Jazz enthusiasts and rap musicians, who, in essence, are simply saying the same thing about these different types of music, and this is a dialogue, as I have appointed out above, which has been going on form the beginning of Jazz music in the south. Bakari adds: "Rap, and other forms of black music intend to promote more careful, critical thinking on the part of the artists, genre enthusiasts and the general public.

These types of music provided definitions for difficult, often unapproached, misunderstood, and misrepresented concepts such as hip-hop culture and hardcore, among others; and with jazz, as to its relevance to today's generation. Attempts are being made to place the discussion of rap, jazz, soul, R&B into the larger concerns of Black Culture women's struggle, the great disparity between America's minority economic elite and majority poor, and the extensive impact of white supremacy(racism) on Black world Development. Its about rap, jazz, soul, R&B, rock and toll; Its about Signifying; the dozens; Black Culture; music; definition; blacks; race; gender; Black art; sexuality; community; consciousness; creativity; youth; adults; elders; ancestors; words; politics; economics; Media History; spirituality; healing; liberation; life and Rap, Jazz, Soul, R&B, Gospel and so on."

Jazz, as a music form and genre, emanates and is expressed form all these shared experiences. Jazz has influenced and is influenced by a variety of factors. Jazz has, from the time of its inception in the 20th Century, and through incorporating music from the 19th century, spawned a variety of other genres form New Orleans, Ragtime and New Orleans music from 1890s to 1910s, Dixieland from the 1910s, big band style swing from from the 1930s and 1940s, Bebop from the mid 1940s, along with Latin Fusions, such as Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz, from the 1950s and 1960s, jazz-rock fusion from the 1970s and late 1980s we saw the development of acid jazz, which blends jazz influences into funk(Known in some quarters as Afro-jazz) and hip-hop. We also some variants of European and and Asiatic jazz; we also have cool jazz, Hard Pop,soul Jazz, Post bop, Jazz fusion, Modal Jazz, Free jazz and so on.

This experience come from trickster folk tales and their themes of the struggle for mastery between the trickster and a small animal like Brer Rabbit and a bigger and more powerful adversary. Folklorists like J. Mason and others who collected a cycle of stories featuring the never -ending contest of the slave trickster and old Master.

And in both cases, the trickster defeats the his rival through intellect and not physical attributes. In the same, but different way, Black Southern music originated in the plantations, affected and influenced by the hardships of plantation life; some from field hollers of plantation workers; at times from the street cries of of Black urban peddlers; other songs came from southern prison.

From haunting spirituals of slaves, black gospel developed music. The Blues evolved from rural performers, right up to the reels and buck dances of slave fiddlers and banjo pickers evolved through fife and drum bands of Mississippi, jug bands of Memphis and Charleston, and brass bands of New Orleans into early Jazz.(Charles Joyner)

Jazz Synergy

Jazz was also influenced by folk belief that is strongly influenced by African patterns of folk belief, as is the music of Jazz. The South was the principal arena in which various African cultural traditions were transformed into an Afro-American culture. Jazz then grew into a world-wide musical phenomenon that there are jazz bands, quartets, quintets, ensembles, big bands, duets, solos and so on. In this piece we would like to appreciate jazz from many fronts, epochs or eras.

There is speculation in the Jazz realm as to whether a certain narrative is suitable for its history. What Jazz does is to tell story of a complex and nuanced musical form that is several centuries old and has rapidly changed and developed. But there are tales, often told of heroic and tragic figures who led bands or played most solos is no more so frequently narrated in the music and cultural lore and world.

In this case, one cannot recount the history of Jazz musicians through the prism of one type of genre, instruments or lyrical sounds of artist. It would be instructive and better to talk about Jazz musicians from different eras, without any sequential dates or times. It would be like appreciating music form a vinyl, tape, CD player. iPods or even videos, just going with the flow, and not concerned with the order they have to come in.

The artist we will follow will maybe shed the light as to the progression of Jazz form earlier in history, right up to contemporary times. Jazz is nothing if not interactive and improvisatory and a leader or soloist can't go it alone, not all the time, anyway. The following artist contributed immensely to Jazz and we appreciate them as we appreciate the music they have made, by writing about them.

Some Jazz Greats

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong

Louis Daniel Armstrong (August 4, 1901 - July 6, 1971), nicknamed 'Satchmo' or 'Pops', was an innovative trumpet and singer. He came to be known i in Jazz in the 1920s with an innovative approach towards playing a cornet or trumpet. He was born into a a poor family but at age 5 managed to attend Fisk School for boys, where he was exposed to Creole music. After a short stint as a paper boy, he began to hang out in dance Halls and got to see licentious dancing to the quadrille. He also go to listen to bands like Joe "King" Oliver band.

At the age of 11, Bunk Johnson said he taught Louis how to play the cornet. He also showed gratitude to the Jewish family that took him into their household, fed him and natured him. He eventually ended being sent multiple times to a home for juvenile delinquency. Under the strict discipline of Captain Joseph Jones. He got his first dance hall gig at Henry Ponce's and Black Benny became his protector. He resigned from the Kid Ory's band and joined and married Daisy Oarker from Louisiana. In 1922 he joined Joe "King" Oliver's Creole band.

He worked with many other artists and made his first recordings on the Gennett. He married the second, a lady pianist Lil Hardin. In 1924 he parted company with Oliver in a cordial manner and went to New York to play with the Fetcher Henderson band. In Fletcher's Band he influenced Tenor Saxophonist Coleman Hawkings. Lewis made many recordings at this time arranged by his friend Clarence Williams. He got criticized for accepting the title of King of the Zulus given to him by the people of New Orleans.

People tried to emulate him and got their lips cracked for the effort. He recorded with his Hot Five combo;; Dukes Band admired him and followed his shows. He had a great fondness for Marijuana. He played with Earl Father Hines; Erskine Tate's little Symphony; played Fats Waller's music; played with Lionell Hampton. He divorced in 1937 and married his long-time girlfriend, Alpha. Joe Glasser, Armstrong's manager dissolved the Armstrong band and established a six piece band.

This group featured Armstrong with Jack Teagarden, then next it was Father Earl HInes and the top swing dixieland musicians, and most of them were ex-big band leaders. This group, The All Stars, at various times included Earl 'Fatha' HInes, Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall. Jack Teagarden, Trummy Young, Avrell Shaw, Billy Kyle, Marty Napoleon, Big Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole, Tyree Glenn, Barett Deems and the Philipino percussionist, Danny Barcelona. He was the first musician to appear on Time Magazine. He toured Africa, Europe and Asia.

The nickname Satch is short for Satchelmouth(describing his embouchure). In the Airport in London, Melody Maker Magazine greeted Armstrong with "Hello. Satchmo. this name has stuck since then. He sang with brakeman Jimmie Rodgers, Bing Cosby, duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith and with Ella Fritzgerald. He recorded Three albums with Ells: Ella and Louis. Ella and Louis Again and Porgy and Bess for Verve Records.

His hits record include "Stardust", "What a Wonderful World", "When the Saints go Marching In", "Dream a little dream of Me", "Ain't Misbehaving", 'Stomping on the Savoy", "We have all the Time in the World", "Hello Dolly",(which Nearly toppled the Beattles from the Bill Boards Top 100 charts). He also had Grammies with these tunes:"St. Louis Blues"(1929), "Weather Birds", "Blue Yodel #9(Standing on the Corner) [1930), "All of Me"(1932), "Porgy and Bess"(1958), "Hello Dolly"(1964), Heebie Jeebies"(1926), "What a Wonderful World"(1968), "Mack the Knife"(1955) and "West End Blues"(1928)

Sidney Betchet

He was born on May 14th, 1897 and passed on on May 14, 1959. He was born in a wealthy Creole family. He was a jazz musician who played a saxophone, Clarinet and was also a composer. He had a forceful delivery, well constructed improvisations, and a unique, and wide vibrato which was his signature. Despite is prowess as a Clarinet player, he was well-known and dubbed the first grandmaster of the saxophone. He left New Orleans at twenty and travelled between New York and Chicago.

He was arrested in Paris for being in the scene of a shooting of a woman, and served time. He was deported afterwards. Ken Burns, in his documentary, says 'the shootout started when Sidney was arguing with ano