Booking a jazz band for a wedding reception

So if you're thinking about whether to hire a jazz band for your wedding reception, or perhaps book a small jazz duo for your wedding anniversary party or birthday party, you have to think about what sort of jazz you want. Trad jazz is very popular, and arise from the early jazz of New Orleans, but very appropriate for wedding receptions is the more laid-back and somewhat more modern lounge jazz, swing jazz from the Second World War area, and to some even more modern jazz styles.

New Orleans jazz are relatively easy to listen to and makes obvious sense, because it's based on a three-part vocal polyphony. The complexity of the music comes from the intertwining of the instruments, which normally improvised all at the same time. This clever stuff, because improvisation buys very nature means that the musician is breaking away from what may have been agreed and tried and tested, as with harmonies of the scored piece of string quartet music. String quartet musicians almost never improvise. By playing from music which has been carefully crafted, the harmonies following strict rules, or without breaking those rules doing so in a very purposeful manner. If one player of a string quartet goes their own way by improvising, in general the whole piece music collapses. In jazz this isn't the case, in part because there are strict rules to the way improvisation is can go, and in part by the acceptance of the listener of a certain element of chaos, which if thought of as a classical piece of music would be unacceptable, but when in the bride or bridegroom's mind they are expecting jazz, it all fits into place.

This effective expectation is very marked with Eastern European ceilidh music. One of the things that marks Eastern European ceilidh music is that it changes key very rapidly. Classical music on the whole changes key in very big blocks called movements, and with romantic composers in smaller blocks of extended phrases. The changes of key are very formalised, certain key changes are acceptable, certain other ones are acceptable. No such restriction in Eastern European ceilidh or barn dance music. Any key changes acceptable, or so it would seem to the classically orientated here. I've listened to a lot of Eastern European folk music and played some of it, and to my ear those key changes are part of what makes it so exciting and they don't charter my ear. I won't suggest that when I play this I'm doing it as well and born and bred Eastern European can do, so I can understand why some people don't like it when I play to them, but if I play a recording of a really good Eastern European, gypsy, or klezmer band to friends who play in string quartets, they normally find it quite objectionable can't understand why anybody could like it. Play at church at jazz musician however, or a barn dance musician who is used to American folk music and to some extent Irish folk music, and they will enjoy it, they has been trained differently. Player to someone who specialises in English barn dance or Scottish ceilidh music, and their likely to find it objectionable because these forms of folk music are very closely associated with classical music. In the case of Scottish ceilidh music, because of the Victorian input where the musicians were very often classically trained and treated the folk tunes rather like Kreuzer studies. In the English folk music world, in part because English folk music is so incredibly simple, though often delightful, and in part because classical composers such as Vaughan Williams wove English folk tunes into their classical pieces and in doing so formalised expectations of the listener.

The chief vocal characteristic of New Orleans jazz band was a three-part vocal polyphony. The melodic and rhythmic complexity of the music emerged from the interplay of all the instruments, which normally improvised collectively, with not much scope for long individual instrumental breaks or solos. Later this tended to develop into a three-part musical form: an opening section, hi which the instruments, led by the cornet, played together, a middle section, in which the individual players could show their paces in solos or duets, and a final section in which everybody once again went to town: one of the most exhilarating sounds hi jazz. The former style is illustrated by the (rather late) first recordings of African American New Orleans jazz in the early 1920s from King Oliver's band, the latter by many of the ravishing records of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five.

The coloured New Orleans style was adopted by white bands from the city, but though these played it less movingly, they added little to it (Dixieland style). This evolution may be profitably traced in the records of Louis Armstrong who, according to the purists of the style, had ceased to play it by 1928.  Experts on New Orleans music will observe that this rough sketch greatly over-simplifies a long musical evolution, even within primitive New Orleans jazz, but this is not the place for greater detail.

The Chicago style differs from New Orleans in several important ways. It introduces, though only tentatively, the saxophones into New Orleans polyphony, drops the tromboafc and - another absorption of 'pop music' influences - it adopted the pop song as the basis of the jazz repertoire: most of tte classic Chicago records are 'hot' versions of current song-hifta Liza, Sugar, I've Found a New Baby, etc. Chicago jazz is also much mow individualised: Chicago is the individual players, Bix, Tough, Spanier, Floyd O'Brien, much more than anything else. There are only the individuals, playing together in casually changing combinations. The metaphoafs which spring to mind for records like the Chicago Rhythm Kings  ' I've Found a New Baby or There'll Be Some Changes Made are the literary ones of the Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingl way era; what Wilder Hobson calls the 'hardboiled eloquenotf of a Chicago blues, like Home Cookin', is the Hemingway prose-style translated into jazz. Chicago music ranges all the way from performances which are virtually white New Orleans or white blues, to performances which, like those of Bix and Teschemacher, arc quite original white developments.                                     

The white Eastern style is a sort of chamber music jazz, a line which seems rather suited to white musicians, and of which the Nichols groups. There is elegance and polish, but almost no blues feeling. The instrumentation, though originally traditional (as in the original Memphis Five: trumpet, trombone, clarinet, piano, drums), is also eclectically derived from orthodox and light pop music. Like the Napoleon, Nichols, Mole, Venuti-Lang combinations which produced a deal of tasteful and pleasant music in their time, the modern groups of this kind enjoy a grossly inflated reputation today. The Easterners tend to be underrated in jazz circles. Their most interesting achievements were in instrumental technique, and it is significant that the smooth, light, well-bred tones of their instruments have been influential among modern 'cool' players, whose ancestor, the saxophonist Lester Young, claims to have imitated the white player Trumbauer.At all events the claim of white jazz to have made really original contributions to the music must still rest mainlf on the Eastern and Chicago traditions. Though 'middle period' jazz belongs to the 1930s, certain developments of the 'twenties must be considered with it, foE it is essentially the adaptation of jazz to the large band. It will be obvious that the systematic use of the saxes and the enlargement of the band entailed fundamental musical changes, if only because it is impossible to have old-style collective polyphony, improvised or not, with ten melody instruments. Fletchei Henderson (1898-1952), the pioneer of the big band, began with a African American pop group which he turned increasingly towards jazz by importing suitable musicians and drawing on the New Orleans repertoire. The hot quality of his players imposed jazz even on his arrangements which had, to begin with, been modelled on the ordinary 'sweet' bands such as Paul White- man's.


The quality of the soloists and the 'swing' and vigour of the ensemble passages give what permanent interest they have to bands like McKinney's, Luis Russell's, Claude Hopkins's, or the Blue Rhythm Band. Smaller combinations drawn from the same bands were more successful; for instance the admirable Chocolate Dandies. Ellington (born 1899), who is the most important talent produced in jazz so far, triumphantly, and with the first attempt, solved the triple problem of big band jazz: the composition of a jazz repertoire, the problem of jazz orchestration, and (by a judicious selection of players) the problem of the instrumental styles. Highly sophisticated though all his achievements are, they are almost invariably direct 'deductions' from the fundamental principles of the original, popular, spontaneous and improvised jazz.

The blues was made the basis both of fast and of slow numbers,  there is nothing in the blues form which imposes sadness - and of ensemble work. Thereat was normally simplified down to the 'riff', the repeated melodai (blues) phrase played between and behind the solos, which is so characteristic of Kansas City's most successful product, the band of Count Basie.                                                           First, it provided a flexible framework fear big-band jazz which could be more widely adopted than tha highly individual technique of Ellington, or perhaps even than the Redman formula; and it has been adopted. Second, and more important, it allowed the big band to absorb directly tiw most flourishing and vigorous elements of African American folk-music, the sung blues and the blues piano. Kansas City style is the oni^ one which has used unspoiled blues-singers as band vocalists and integral parts of the orchestra, e.g. James Rushing. The style may be heard at ill best in the early records of Count Basic's band: an unmistate able combination of brazen ensembles, solid rhythmic move ment, and the solo blues.                                                    

The other brands of middle-period jazz, bred mainly for Harlem and other large Northern ghettoes, are less'easy to reduce to type, unless it be the 'Harlem jump', 'the mosf constant rhythm developed in jazz', an urbanised, speeded up beat, fusing the shouting rhythm of the city gospel congregations with the dance rhythm of the city ballroom. The New York tradition of solo (piano) music has followed a rather different line.

The common denominators of all these types of 'middle period' jazz are tremendous technical virtuosity and 'swing' which is an aspect of the same thing. Ancient jazz (ragtime and New Orleans) had used a beat which still echoed European music, accenting the first and third beats of the bar. its derivations - Dixieland and Chicago music, etc. - though sfill 'two-beat' jazz, tended to accent the off-beats. But with saving we enter the period of 'four-beat' jazz, the evenly accented bar, though there is still an instinctive tendency to stress Ifte off-beats.

In jazz every instrument has rhythmic as well as melodic functions, which is why 'swing' as a general phenomenon was hardly possible until a high average level of expertise had been reached. Though nobody predicted it at the time, we can now see that 'modern' jazz developed logically out of the middle period, partly as a prolongation of it, partly as a reaction against it. Here we need be concerned only with the stylistic and musical aspects of this revolution in jazz, which is comparable to the revolutions of the twentieth century, in modern painting and classical music. The jazz public has always been divided, but before the modernist revolution normally only into 'purists' and 'impurists'; that is into those who wished to preserve jazz from innovation because they believed it to lead to the ultimate horror of 'commercialisation', and those who grudgingly recognised that not all innovation turned jazz into pop music. But 'modernism' produced rival purity schools, though in its early stages the defenders of old-style 'pure' jazz purported to regard it as merely another commercial novelty gimmick. But 'modern' jazz was far from aiming at mass appeal. On the contrary, it was the first jazz style which deliberately turned its face away from the ordinary public and created music for initiates and experts only. The best way to explain its musical genesis is to say that musicians became bored and frustrated with the increasingly standardised and repetitive music of the big bands of the 1930s. The original 'bop' revolutionaries almost all came from such big bands: Gillespie the trumpeter from Teddy Hill and Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker the alto player from Jay McShann, Kenny Clarke the drummer from a variety of bands et cetera.

Modern jazz is essentially small band music. Also it was essentially a reaction against entertaining a large or even a small lay public: it was musicians' music. As such it naturally developed the virtuoso tendencies of middle-period jazz to hitherto undreamed heights: Parker 'swung' at 360 quarter-notes per minute, a thing hitherto believed impossible. Clarke and his imitators tried to get their drums to play not only rhythm but 'tunes'. Similarly, the revolutionaries assumed a degree of musical sophistication which automatically made jazz into an elite activity. Musicians were supposed to assume the beat, over which rhythmic complexities of almost African subtlety were played. So far as they were concerned the really competent player ought to hear not merely the final theme and its often remote improvisation, but behind it the unplayed original theme: a duet between the actual music played and the ghost-music from which it was originally derived. If a musician could do this, well and good. It is small wonder that modern musicians have often shown a marked hankering for the intellectually more demanding constructions of classical music.

The original 'boppers' were essentially improvisers in what we can now recognise as the old jazz tradition, however revolutionised. The musicians approached 'composition' mainly in so far as fully worked-out solos were much prized and often repeated note for note. In some respects 'bop' retreated from the complex orchestral writing which Jelly-Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Don Redman, Sy Oliver and other composer-arrangers had brought to jazz, though this retreat was only temporary. Modern jazz has indeed concentrated mainly on the pop 'ballad', which it has for the first tune turned into something like a musically usable form. For the blues lies at the heart of modern jazz as of all jazz.

The early 'bop' music, as played in 1941-9 by its pioneers, and since then by some of the intransigent survivors, was a m ani-festo of revolt, though we can now see that the revolt moved within the frontiers of traditional craftsmen's jazz. The public, in turn, becomes accustomed to a new sound. The Gillespie-Parker-Monk records of 1946-8 which struck non-expert listeners at the time as wholly incomprehensible, are now accepted quite easily, if not always with enthusiasm. Little by little it has reintroduced a less revolutionary type of melody: the Modern Jazz Quartet, or Miles Davis, the leading soloist of the latest phase of jazz, play altogether gentler and more recognisable tunes, often no more demanding than those of Ellington. The 'beat', that essential of jazz, is perhaps easier to recognise today than it was in the adventurous 'forties. Some of this is due to regression, but some to a further evolution in jazz which has been called the 'cool' style. The 'cool' style is the most extreme point as yet reached in jazz evolution - the point which almost lies on the borders between jazz and ordinary art-music.

With all its insistence on musical bravura, what the boppers played was expressionist and not abstract music. Cool jazz aimed at a hitherto irrelevant ideal of musical purity, that is to say in many respects at the complete reversal of most jazz values. Cool players tried to make instruments sound like orthodox classical instruments, e.g. with a minimum of vibrato. Classical instruments, whose main recommendation for jazz was that they sounded smooth and had snob appeal, were for the first time used as more than oddities: flutes, oboes, flugelhorns. The main melodic pillar of jazz, the 'horn' or wind instrument, came under suspicion: small combinations consisting exclusively of such things as piano, bass, drums (perhaps supplemented with a vibraharp, an oboe-sounding sax, a well-bred clarinet, or even a bowed cello) became common sights. What Hodeir has called a "wispy' sound became the ideal of many cool men. More than any of their predeccessors, the cool players and arrangers also dreamed of an educated composed jazz capable of competing with the classics. Intellectualised and formalised jazz such as this, drained of much of its old-fashioned red blood, naturally appealed particularly strongly to young white players, who are much better able to compete with coloured ones on territory which is, after all, close to the one in which all white musicians have been brought up. Cool jazz therefore attracted an abnormally large number of young white recruits, especially in California, where Los Angeles became the headquarters of a 'West Coast school'.

One of the most formative musicians of the 'thirties, Lester Young, tenor sax in Count Basie's band, had demonstrated that it was possible to produce remarkable jazz while avoiding virtually all the characteristics of the 'hot' sound; mainly by means of a quite extraordinary suppleness, the product of muscular relaxation. In doing so they brought jazz to the very verge of its possibilities as jazz. It would be logical to argue that the future evolution of modern jazz must take it over that border into art-music; or rather over the border into that territory where it disintegrates as jazz, while art-musicians absorb its various fragments into their <iwn music as nineteenth-century nationalist composers absorbed the elements of their peoples' music into the general body of classical music. For though modern jazz has tried, more and more systematically, to escape from the musical limitations of the older jazz - or to react against them - its social situation has so far continued to link it to its old and unreconstructed musical kindred. Some jazz may well go permanently over the border, just as one sort of African American spiritual has gone permanently into the concert hall. But just as gospel music in the Mount Tabor African, Strict Baptist Tabernacle continues a vigorous life quite independent of Miss Marian Anderson's kind of spirituals (though not unaffected by musical developments), so jazz, including much modern jazz, is likely to continue even if some versions of it pass beyond its frontiers.

Possibly modern jazz will continue as a sort of interplay between the 'hot' and the 'cool' tendencies. So long as jazz is jazz it will always be anchored to some sort of stylistic pattern by the need to be a music for dancing. Viewing the wise remarks of Mr Gus Johnson, a Kansas City drummertrained in the best of all jazz schools, Jay McShann's band. For the past dozen years or so a great deal of jazz has not been played for dancing, but for listening, often in concert halls and recital rooms. But so long as jazz is not exclusively a recital music; that is, so long as it is not played for an exclusively expert or snob audience, so long as it is played in dance halls, theatres and clubs as well as in halls, some listeners will also want to dance to it, if only in the aisles. And so long as the demand for jazz to dance to continues, some jazz of all styles-old, middle-period or modern - will adapt itself to this demand. It will not be hard either; for jazz is a music made to get people's limbs moving, whatever other and higher achievements it also has to its credit.

Except for the piano, the evolution of the jazz instruments is part of that of the jazz orchestral styles. It may be broadly summed up as follows: The clarinet reached its peak of development in New Orleans jazz, and has since then dropped progressively into the background. The percussive instruments follow a steadily ascending curve until the cool period, when they become, hi some instances, the major carriers of melody as well as of rhythm (e.g. Modern Jazz Quartet: piano, vibes, drums, bass). There are signs, as hi the use of a cello by the Chico Hamilton Quintet, that players are today making efforts to conquer even these highly recalcitrant instruments for jazz. Jazz is what individual players make it, and each player has his individual voice. All these musicians come from New Orleans. Among white players the Chicagoans Teschemacher (1906-32) and Tee-Wee' Russell (born 1906) developed the 'dirty' style, while Benny Goodman (born 1909) is technically perhaps the most brilliant player of the instrument, white or coloured. It is doubtful whether, if all records later than 1930 were destroyed - except for those of Bechet, who was poorly recorded in those days-our picture of the technical and emotional possibilities of this instrument as hitherto used in jazz would be incomplete. Dodds' marvellous playing with Louis Armstrong and with his own New Orleans Wanderers, Simeon's contributions on the Jelly-Roll Morton records and Bigard's with Morton and Ellington demonstrate the range of the instrument.

The cornet, and from the later 1920s its successor the trumpet, is hereditary king of jazz, though in semi-exile under the moderns. There are therefore more brilliant trumpeters than stars of any other instrument in jazz history. However, all discussion of the jazz trumpet must begin and end with Louis Armstrong (born 1900) the greatest jazzman of them all, in whose art New Orleans music culminates and is surpassed. For Armstrong is not made to find his way through the eclectic jungle of middle-period jazz or the intellectual mazes of the moderns: he is a simple man; in terms of verbal intelligence even an inarticulate one. But he was born just at the time when he could pass logically from the folk-jazz of New Orleans to complete individualism in art, without losing either his bearings or the wonderful, simple, singing quality, the common touch, of a music made for ordinary people. Armstrong's evolution out of New Orleans jazz can be followed in his records with King Oliver, in the marvellous Hot Fives and Hot Sevens of 1925-7, and in the astonishing freedom of the Hot Sevens of 1928-30, when he played a music untrammelled by any formal traditions in the company of players who could hold a candle to him: on the West End Blues or Potato Head Blues, one of which would probably win in a poll for the best single jazz record ever made, in Tight Like This, Muggles, Mahogany Hall Stomp, and the rest. There is plenty of argument about him, but if one thing is certain in the world of jazz, it is that every critic worth his name would, were he asked to name a single person who personifies jazz, vote for him.

Among white players only one can be named in this company, Leon Bismarck ('Bix') Beiderbecke (1903-31), who is pretty generally admitted to be the finest white jazz musician up to the present. The other white players are good journeymen, except perhaps for Bunny Berigan (1909-24), a lesser Bix, Bobby Hackett (born 1915), a lesser swing player, and Max Kaminsky of Chicago (born 1908). Not that in jazz 'journeyman' is a dishonourable title. Men like Muggsy Spanier (born 1906), who has played honest and moving Dixieland cornet, have no cause to regret their careers. The trombone had barely glimpsed its full instrumental possibilities in New Orleans jazz, though it could, with Charlie 'Big' Green (1900-36) play the Blues, and was always essential to the polyphony. Dickie Wells (born 1909), perhaps with Harrison the best trombonist in jazz history, the lesser J. C. Higginbotham (born 1906), and Vic Dickenson (born 1906) adapted the instrument to the swing era and brought it to its highest pitch of achievement. Among the whites, who are a little less outclassed in this field, Miff Mole (born 1898) and Tommy Dorsey (1904-56) developed the technical possibilities of the instrument without exploiting them for jazz purposes, while the Dane, Kai Winding (born 1922) among the moderns, should be mentioned. There are few Red Indians in jazz, but those few seem to have a taste for the trombone: Jack Teagarden (born 1905) leads them, the best non-African American player of the blues on his instrument, though a little lacking in bite.

The saxophone entered jazz late. The years when journalists identified jazz by its 'wailing saxophones' were precisely those when the few jazz saxophonists had barely emancipated themselves from the New Orleans clarinet tradition. However, from the middle 'twenties a number of brilliant and sensitive instrumentalists developed-a technique for it and made its remarkable flexibility fully available to jazz. In the swing, and especially the early modern period, the saxes really did become the central instrument of jazz, almost displacing the clarinet and pushing even the brass into the background. This is no doubt because they lend themselves to musically justified technical virtuosity: they are the string-section of jazz. The natural classicists among jazz lovers will always hanker for the simple lines of brass. But if any instrument was jazz between, say 1930 and 1950 it was the sax.

Virtually, all sax players of the earlier generation are his pupils: Chu Berry (1910-41), Herschel Evans (1909-39), Don Byas (born 1912), Ben Webster (born 1909), Lucky Thompson (born 1924) and Illinois Jacquet (born 1921). Meanwhile in Kansas City the other great innovator, Lester Young (born 1909), laid the foundations of the 'cool' style with a smoother, deliberately much less 'beautiful' tone and a tendency to play long melodic lines consisting of relatively few notes. (The white musicians Bud Freeman [born 1906] and Frank Trumbauer [1900-57] had actually pioneered this development.) Young's disciples are numerous: Wardell Gray (1921-55) among coloured Americans, Stan Getz (born 1927), Zoot Sims (born 1925), Al Cohn (born 1925), Gerry Mulligan (born 1927) on baritone among whites. The baritone was for long the monopoly of Harry Carney (born 1910) of Ellington's band, but became more popular in the 'cool' period among white players like Serge Chaloff (1923-57) and Gerry Mulligan (born 1927), who plays it as though it were a tenor.

The alto was established in jazz by a trinity of notable musicians: Benny Carter (bora 1907), Willie Smith (born 1908) and Johnny Hodges (born 1906) of Ellington's band, who would, but for the existence of Charlie Parker, be the unquestioned king of this instrument today as in 1929: a marvel of skill, sensitiveness, and flexible, but not weak, melodic beauty.  The whites, Lee Konitz (born 1927) and Art Pepper (born 1925), have developed the modern tradition, though it is characteristic that among the coloured Americans the most typical Parker disciples, like Sonny Stitt (bora 1924) and Sonny Rollins (born 1929), reverted to the tenor.

The evolution of the rhythm instruments - again with the exception of the piano, which counts as such in jazz - is first towards subtler rhythmic possibilities, and then towards a sort of fusion between rhythm and melody, such as is wholly new in European music, though there are plenty of African precedents for it. Since rhythm is the heart-beat of jazz, and the essential 'organising medium' of this music, the importance of these instruments, notably the drums, is obvious. The weakness of all European jazz hitherto has been at bottom the weakness of its rhythm sections.  Among the non-American jazz players of stature we may mention the Frenchmen Combelle and Lafitte (sax), the Dane Kai Winding (trombone), the Swedes Hasselgard and Wickrnan (clarinet) and Bengt Hallberg, a gypsy - the guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910-53), and equally characteristically, he is the only European jazzman who has so far found a certain place in the jazz pantheon.

There is a tendency, notably among white players, to separate these things. Thus the Sicilian Eddie Lang (Salvatore Massaro 1904-33), who developed the solo melodic and harmonic possibilities of the jazz guitar very far indeed, did so at the expense of 'swing'. White drummers have often played with solo rhythm at the expense of the rhythm of the whole band, which is the rhythm-maker's primary responsibility, except perhaps in an instrumental 'break': the drummer Gene Krupa of Chicago (born 1909) has this tendency. The bass is played pizzicato in jazz. It provided the harmonic basis for instrumental improvisation, but also - and increasingly - the main, unchanging beat of the music.

Two major pianistic styles stand at the beginning of jazz, one extremely sophisticated, one extremely primitive: 'ragtime' and 'blues piano' or 'boogie-woogie'. Ragtime has already been briefly described in the section on the orchestral styles of jazz. Ragtime style and technique were evolved, on the whole, by musically educated and ambitious players, perhaps the only case of its kind, if we except the evolution of the 'creole' clarinet style. The first was the New Orleans brothel-piano style, whose finest recorded master is Jelly-Roll Morton (1885-1941). The second, much more influential, is the 'Eastern' or 'Harlem' style, which has produced the most vigorous pianistic tradition in jazz. Stylistically the most brilliant virtuoso of the jazz piano, the late Art Tatum (1910-56), belongs to the New York tradition, standing somewhere between Fats Waller and Bud Powell.  This North-Eastern monopoly of good African American jazz pianists is startling.

On the one hand, with Earl Mines - one of the most remarkable of a remarkable group of musicians - players attempted the feat of adapting the piano to the vocalising style of the other instruments (the so-called 'trumpet style'); Hines's partnership with Louis Armstrong in 1928-30 produced some of the most satisfactory and impressive jazz on record. At all times the capacity of the piano to combine rhythm, harmony and melody has been the foundation of jazz piano playing. Blues piano ('barrel-house', 'honky-tonk', 'boogie-woogie') is as primitive as ragtime was sophisticated, though it shows ragtime influences, probably because many barrel-house pianists taught themselves to play the instrument by copying the movement of the keys on automatic player-pianos performing ragtime piano rolls. Of all instrumental jazz styles this is the most 'folky' and anonymous, even the research of the jazz lovers has failed to turn many of its casually recorded pioneers into more than names, vaguely attached to a location, a blues or two, or a particular pianistic trick ('the chimes', 'the rocks', 'the fives', 'the chains'). Many well-known 'boogie-woogie' pianists - Meade Lux Lewis (bora 1905), Pete Johnson (born 1904) are limited, while Jimmy Yancey (1898-1951), a most moving player of the blues, is technically downright bad.

As one might expect, blues piano is also by far the most 'African' of jazz piano styles: one might almost say that its tendency is to play the piano as a pure percussion instrument and to concentrate entirely on its rhythmic interest, reducing the melody to endlessly repeated, sometimes very little varied, phrases. Though the blues piano has had considerable influence on the jazz orchestra, notably through the Kansas City tradition, it has not developed much. Like the blues itself, it has remained a substratum of jazz. Until the middle 'thirties it led a self-contained life in those bar rooms and honky-tonks where it had originated, or in the parlours of Northern immigrant flats, virtually ignored by the main jazz tradition outside Kansas City.

In European art-music drumming is a device to produce incidental effects; in jazz it is the foundation and organising medium of the entire music, the engine which draws the jazz train along its rails. However, the drum-kit is also a group of instruments in its own right, for, as we have already seen, if every instrument in jazz also ha a rhythmic function, every instrument also has a melodic one. Drums are perhaps the hardest of all jazz instruments for the European-trained listener to appreciate and to analyse. The evolution of the jazz drum begins with with a paradox. The history of jazz drumming is the story of its increasing emancipation from the marching military band, with which it started in New Orleans. The old New Orleans drummers, among whom Warren 'Baby' Dodds (born 1898), Zutty Singleton (born 1898) and perhaps Kaiser Marshall (1902-48) are the most eminent. For though no instrument shows the inferiority of white players more than the drums - perhaps only Dave Tough (1908-48), the Chicago pioneer, is on a level with the best African American drummers - the evolution of African American and white drumming seem to have run roughly parallel.


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