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Music by Early Jazz Bands


Louisiana Five Laughing BluesWhite Way BluesArkansas BluesOrange Blossom RagFoot WarmerGolden Rod BluesThunderbolt BluesBe-Hap-E BluesYelping Hound Blues

New Orleans Rhythm Kings Tin Roof BluesFarewell Blues

Joe "King" Oliver's Jazz Band Chime BluesSnag It

Original Dixieland Jazz Band Mournin' BluesWar CloudSkeleton JangleLivery Stable Blues

Jelly Roll Morton Original Jelly Roll BluesNew Orleans BluesChicago BreakdownMidnight MamaDead Man BluesSidewalk Blues (Fish Tail Blues)Billy Goat StompBoogabooHyena StompWild Man BluesLondon Blues (Shoe Shine Blues)

Early Jazz Bands

There were many small jazz groups that became popular with the dancing public. Publishers immediately published ‘stock’ arrangements of their hit recordings. These arrangements were not exact duplications of the record but they used the standard instrumentation of the day (Ex: the stock of the ODJB added a bass, an instrument not used by the ODJB in their band - a 5 man ensemble). These stock arrangements gave the opportunity to local dance bands the ability to play arrangements suited for the dancers who were asking for more jazz sounding tunes.

Music publishers, in business to make money, put out these arrangements to suit the demands of the dancing public, but also, of course, to make money, which they did. WE have chosen 5 jazz bands that seemed to have been very popular.

Louisiana Five - existed from 1918 to 1920 - Personnel: Anton Lada, Yellow Nunez, Charles Panelli, Joe Cawley and Karl Berger.

New Orleans Rhythm Kings - Joe Mares, George Brunis, Henry Rappolo, Joe Pettis, Elmer Schoebel, Bud Layocano and Joe Black

‘King’ Oliver’s Jazz Band - Joe Oliver, Louis Armstrong, ‘Baby’ Dodds, Louis Dutrey, ‘Dink’ Johnson, Johnny Dodds and Lil Hardin

Original Dixieland Jazz Band - Nick LaRocca, Eddie Edwards, Tony Sarbaro, Larry Shields, and Henry Ragas

Jelly Roll Morton - Jelly Roll Morton, Omer Simeon, Andre Hillaire, John Lindsay, Johnny St. Cyr, ‘Kid’ Ory, and George Mitchell.

The Louisiana Five was basically formed to make recordings for Emerson Receding company. The band was formed in 1918 and included: Anton Lada-drums, Alcide "Yellow" Nunez-clarinet, Charles Panelli-trombone, Joseph Cawley-piano, and Karl Berger-banjo. They made more than 50 sides. During their tenure the band achieved little influence but with the passage of time their recordings and published arrangements in 1919 have created more interest and influence. They disbanded in 1920.

Louisiana Five

The Louisiana Five was basically formed to make recordings for Emerson Receding company. The band was formed in 1918 and included: Anton Lada-drums, Alcide "Yellow" Nunez-clarinet, Charles Panelli-trombone, Joseph Cawley-piano, and Karl Berger-banjo. They made more than 50 sides. During their tenure the band achieved little influence but with the passage of time their recordings and published arrangements in 1919 have created more interest and influence. They disbanded in 1920.

Laughing Blues - 1919 - Anton Lada

The Louisiana Five became a very popular jazz band in 1919 and there was a large group of ensemble arrangements published. The first we hear is "Laughing Blues." It begins with a 4 bar introduction, followed by a 12 bar first section (not in the traditional 12 bar blues progression). It is labeled a fox trot. It contains syncopation and the use of the blues scale. This is a typical jazz song that was done during the early 20's.

White Way Blues - 1919 - Lada/Nunez

Written in the traditional 12 bar blues form, 'White Way' is labeled a fox trot. Possessing a chromatic theme, it appears like an upside down statement of the theme of 'Tin Roof Blues.' There is use of syncopation and dotted rhythms. The trio is written for trombone solo until the last phrase of this section.

Arkansas Blues - 1919 - Lada/Spencer Williams

Written by La 5 member Anton Lada and songwriter Spencer Williams (composer of 'Basin St. Blues'). The first section is a 12 bar blues structure with the second section in two 8 bar phrases. The second of the 2 phrases is extended by 2 bars. This section does not have a blues feeling. The first section contains some jazz breaks for the saxes and trumpets. This arrangement gives us a sound that we have come to recognize as the 'jazz' sound that was emerging in the early 20's. This arrangement uses three saxes and a clarinet solo in the first section.

Orange Blossom Rag - 1919 - Nunez/Lada/Cawley

Written by La members Al Nunez, Anton Lada and Joe Cawley, it is labeled a 'One-Step, Two-Step or Trot'. By 1919 the style of popular music had progressed past the popularity of the classic ragtime. The blues and the jazz song (called many times a 'fox trot') became the dominant style/form of this era. In 'Orange Blossom' there can be found the use of the cakewalk rhythm in the first section and the trio. We find an interesting coda that contains a trombone smear/solo, a sound that became an element of jazz style. As the title suggests, this is a southern type subject, thus the use of the cakewalk rhythm.

Foot Warmer - 1919 - Lada/Nunez

Labeled a fox trot, this arrangement's first section is in 4 bar phrases, each statement of the theme is slightly different. An interesting second section also in 4 bar phrases that are sequence-like in four statements. This is repeated in the next 16 bars. Directly following there appears an 8 bar section that acts like a transition to the third section, using the rhythms of the introduction that interestingly leads to the third section, also using the rhythm of the introduction. This leads to a D. S.  

Golden Rod Blues - 1919 - Lada

All the arrangements and publications of the La. 5 reflex the emerging jazz style of the period just after World War I. The song is in 4 bar phrases and it is called a 'blues' and is labeled a fox trot. There is the use of syncopation. At the middle of the second section there is an interesting descending rhythmic/ melodic figure in a downward sequence pattern. The La 5 presents a tight arrangement and it creates a good jazz sound. They presented it to the public in the 'now' jazz sound that became the rage of the era., the 'Jazz Age.' The La 5 was only organized for a short period but these arrangements left a profound message - legit dance bands could play and create a 'jazz' sound. Their influence became an important step in the progress of jazz after World War I, as witnessed by the large number of published arrangements by the band in 1919.

Thunderbolt Blues - 1919 - Lada

Notated as a 'One-Step' there is a 4 bar introduction that leads to a 16 bar sections (A) and a 16 bar 2nd section (B), using some syncopation and mostly diatonic harmony. There is a modulation from section A to B (from F major to Bb major) in two 8 bar phrases using basically the I and V chords and presents a diatonic theme. Section C is the trio that begins with a 10 measure transition to the main theme that uses the first theme stated in cakewalk rhythm within a 16 bar section repeated once. This section sounds like the trio of a march and without the more 'jazzy' early sections you would say that you are hearing a march trio.

The instrumentation is interesting, having 2 cornets, a piccolo instead of a flute, and an alto and tenor sax along with a clarinet. Written in 1919 there was still not a 'set' way to write for saxophones. In this arrangement the sax at times double another part and other times plays a harmony supporting part. We can see the changing in the use of the clarinet as it doesn't always double the melody as is earlier arrangements.  

Be-Hap-E Blues - 1919 - Lada

This is not a 12 bar blues but has a bluesy feeling within the 16 bar phrases. There is an interesting use of the cakewalk rhythm, interesting in that the rhythm is still being used within a 'jazz' arrangement and by a jazz band in 1919. It is also interesting as the 2nd section sounds like the strains of a march. The arrangements of the La 5 seem to use elements of past musical styles in the setting of the then contemporary jazz band of the early 20's.

Yelping Hound Blues - 1919 - Lada/Nunez

This piece is a true 12 bar blues, with a few added, more modern chords than just the three primary chords of the blues. There is the use of syncopation in this first section and sparingly in the other two sections. The La. 5 arrangements seem to present all the current clichés of early jazz elements. The other two sections of this work did not use the blues 12 bar form.

New Orleans Rhythm King (NORK)

First known as the Friar's Society Orchestra in the early 1920's, by 1923 it became known as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Their first recordings in 1922 for Gennett were met with great success. While personnel changed or were added to the musicians most associated with the group include: Paul Mares, Leon Roppolo, Jack Pettis, Elmer Schoebel, Arnold Loyocano, Lou Black, Frank Snyder, Steve Brown, Chink Martin, Ben Pollack, Mel Stitzel, Charlie Cordilla, George Brunis, Ben Pollack and Santo Pecora. After a change in personnel that saw three key members return to New Orleans, the group disbanded around 1925. While it was active it was one of the most influential early jazz bands, A great front line of: Mares, Brunis and Roppolo inspired a school of young white Chicago jazz musicians which included 'Bix.'  

Tin Roof Blues - 1923 -  New Orleans Rhythm Kings            

Said to be an early blues riff by legendary New Orleans cornetist Buddy Petit, the theme was called 'Rusty Nail Blues' around New Orleans. The verse is a 12 bar blues statement leading to the famous riff that is also a 12 bar blues form. This is the melody that has been renamed a number of times: "Jazz Baby Blues" in 1926, "Make Love To Me" in 1950 as recorded by Kay Starr with only slight modifications. The third section is open for solos - most NORK arrangements are found with solo sections. This arrangement is from 1923, and progress can be heard from the La. 5 to the NORK. 

Farewell Blues - 1923 - Rappolo

This song is not in true blues form. It contains open sections for solos in the second section. It is one of the earliest examples of jazz solos in print. Written by clarinetist Leon Rappolo, the solo is given to the clarinet. The piece is in song form with four bar phrases.

Joe 'King' Oliver's Jazz Band  

One of the most influential bands in early jazz was the Oliver Creole Jazz Band. The band was lead by Joe 'King' Oliver, who had moved to Chicago in 1918 and formed a band in 1920. After a trip to the San Francisco area he returned to Chicago and formed his most famous band that brought up Louis Armstrong to Chicago in 1922. This was the most influential jazz band in early jazz, influencing such bands as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and many others. It is interesting to note that the New Orleans cornetists Buddy Petit and Kid Rena were first asked to come and join the band. When they refused Armstrong was sent for. The Band included: Oliver-trumpet, Armstrong-trumpet, Dodds-drums, Dutrey-trombone, J. Dodds-clarinet and Johnson-bass & banjo. After a successful engagement in Chicago the band was asked to play at the Cotton Club in New York. A dispute of money caused the management of the Cotton Club to hire 'Duke' Ellington. Armstrong left the band in 1924 to form his own group in New York. While the band continued without Armstrong until 1927, its influence had been superseded by Armstrong's emerging style. Oliver died in Savannah, Georgia in 1938, virtually in obscurity  

Chime Blues - 1923 - Joe Oliver

This in a true 12 bar blues pattern, with the 3rd section imitating a chime effect. The 4th section uses a quasi cakewalk rhythm but with the accents placed differently (o o o o o). Joe Oliver was not the first New Orleans musician to bring a jazz band to Chicago, but became the most influential, especially when Louis Armstrong joined the band in 1922.

Snag It - 1926 - Joe Oliver

Once jazz reached Chicago and moved onto the national scene, it became the most popular dance music around. No one group did more to shape the jazz style of this era then the 'King' Oliver Band with Louis Armstrong on trumpet. Though only on the scene for a brief time, Oliver's place in jazz history is secure, thanks to the influence of his ensemble.

'Snag It' is a true blues and was a big hit in its time. In it we hear minor blues and the traditional jazz riffs that leads to the blues choruses. The tempo is taken fast on the record, which was used so that the whole arrangement could get on one side of a record. It should be taken slower to that its contents can be heard and at a tempo that I am sure was used for dancing.

A very popular piece when it was published in 1926, 'snag It' contains jazz breaks and arranged solos.

Original Dixieland Jazz Band(ODJB)  

The ODJB, the first jazz band to record, brought their brand of New Orleans Jazz to the world via recordings. One of these recordings the 'Livery Stable Blues' has been analyzed as to its harmony, form and structure on the web site of <www.basinstreet.com> on which all the programs of the Lake Arrowhead Jazz Band appear

Like the La. 5, the ODJB had arrangements published for the 'legit' orchestras to play for dancing.

Mournin' Blues - 1918 - Tony Sbarbaro

Written by the ODJB's drummer, Tony Sbarbaro, it was published in 1918. Under the title we see that it is called a fox trot. The first section is in 16 bar song form. The second section is a 12 bar blues form. The third section is also in 12 bar blues form. Both black and white bands used the blues form as the bases for many of its songs. The blues also became an instrumental musical form, its beginning being in vocal style. The second section uses the 'blue' notes (the flatted third) and while the first 6 bars of the 2nd and 3rd section are different, the same melody is stated in both sections.  

War Cloud - 1918 - Nick LaRocca

War Cloud (recognized as the tune 'Fidgety Feet) begins with an introduction that uses the cakewalk rhythm and proceeds to a 16 bar song form with a theme reminiscent of the '12th Street Rag.' There is a quasi stop time that begins the second section. The name 'War Cloud' probably was given to help sell arrangements - it was a 'fad' to give songs an interesting name. While the melody for the first section is in 16th notes and is contrasted in the trio with a long note theme that sound like the trio of a march. (This march style has been seen in some of the songs of the La. 5.) It is labeled a One-Step and composer credit is given to Nick LaRocca and Larry Shields.  

Skeleton Jangle - 1918 - Nick LaRocca

Written by Nick LaRocca "'Skeleton' contains dotted rhythms reminiscent of the cakewalk rhythm. It is in song form, the three section in two 8 bar phrases. The third section has a bass figure under a tutti chord pattern that plays on 1 and 3. The piece ends with a riff-sounding figure that reminds one of the way a blues figure is repeated. The title is not referring to any spooky effect but as with 'War cloud' it was named to sell the piece of music. There is use of syncopation and contains the jazz element of a smearing trombone.

Livery Stable Blues (Barnyard Blues) - 1927 -          Lopez/Nunez  

The ODJB recorded their historic session on Feb. 26, 1917, using the 'Livery Stable Blues' on one side and 'Dixieland Jass Band One-Step' on the reverse side. The sheet music was published in 1927 by Roger Graham Music Publishers located at 143 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, Ill. The music gives credit to Ray Lopez and Alcide Nunez as the composers and Marvin Lee as lyricist. A second recording was made in London, in April of 1919.  

Livery Stable Blues - 1917 - N. LaRocca

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB) recorded their historic session on Feb. 26, 1917, using the 'Livery Stable Blues' on one side and the "Dixieland Jass Band One Step" on the other. The sheet music was published in 1917 by Robert Graham Music Publishers at 143 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, Ill. The music gives credit to Ray Lopez and Alcide Nunez as the composers and Marvin Lee as lyricist A second recording was made in London on April 16,1919. There was a legal battle in court as to the authorship of the song - thus the two names.

The analysis of the recording can be found on the web sit: <www.basinstreet.com>

Jelly Roll Morton  

Jelly Roll Morton, one of the legendary names in early jazz, is best known for his reputation as an early jazz pianist and for his narratives recorded at the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. As important as his interviews and recordings are, I feel his importance to the preservation of early jazz are his accomplishments as one of the earliest jazz arrangers.

Morton chose the men for his recording session personally. He worked on each number until he was satisfied. Baby Dodds recalls "You did what jelly Roll wanted you to do. He knew what he wanted and he would get the men he knew could produce it, but never interfered with the solos."

Morton was true to the New Orleans style and was a leader in the movement that these recording sessions and Melrose' publications help spread world-wide an authentic duplication of the New Orleans sound. It preserved the new Orleans style and guarded its integrity, for this style was beginning to be an unknown and misunderstood style, more spontaneous than the early jazz music that was primarily dance music. His music was more exact in musical clarity and proficiency that the more rough ensembles of the looser, less technical early jazz combos. Morton's music could be thought of as a written down, more disciplined King Oliver Band sound, more polished and musically correct than the ODJB. Morton's orchestral style is in essence the New Orleans polyphonic style (called collective improvisation, better described as heterphonic). Morton's style included unison and harmonized passages with solos, and a very melodic, harmonic and tonal sophistication which by comparison made King Oliver's early recordings no more than the work of an early blues band using all the devices Morton used but with less orchestral skill and clarity.

Morton's orchestral style came from his piano style. His presentation of orchestral jazz somewhat saved and preserved the original sound of an early jazz band from what could have become a degeneration of the style.

An important point to make is Morton realized his short-comings in writing down orchestrations and realized he needed technical help from staff arrangers, but, his ideas and style, his musical concepts and their careful refinement and evolution were his own. His progress was an important step that should be put in historic perception - that jazz style can be written down and played by other musicians than the early New Orleans jazz musicians. - this bringing jazz to multitudes of legit dance musician - a legacy that spread jazz throughout the dance halls of the world. Morton later took on the problem of a four-man front - a challenge that opened the way to larger jazz groups and furthered jazz orchestration that could be furthered by arrangers such as Redman, Grofe and Still. It reached its zenith in the Jazz Age as this period in jazz history was the 'arranger's era.' 

Original Jelly Roll Blues - 1925

Published in Chicago by Will Rossiter around 1915, it is said that J. P. Johnson heard Morton playing it in New York in 1911. Jelly Roll built his pianistic reputation playing this piece on his travels. As with all of Morton's piano pieces, it was written with orchestration in mind (or for the piano to sound like an orchestra). The piece is very versatile and diversified in using many creative ideas. From a bluesy introduction, there follows a characteristic trumpet fanfare. Morton uses the 12 bar blues progression very creatively. Starting at section A, with each beginning a 4 bar phrase of blues progression repetitive and it is like hearing a cliché. There are three choruses of blues followed by a transition at section D for 4 bars. Beginning at section E there is a modified blues 12 bar progression. At section F there is another 12 bar blues followed by another 12 bar blues statement. At section H another blues variation is found which is followed at section I with another blues section with each section different from the other. Section J is in the same modified blues progression. This piece is one of the best examples of the way jazz musicians of the early part of the 320th century used the blues progression and how truly creative they were.  

New Orleans Blues - 1925

This is a 12 bar blues Tango, using what is called the rhythm of the 'Spanish Tinge.' Two themes emerge. Beginning at section A and B - different but coming together in their 5th bar with the same melody., then branching off again in bar 8 until the end of the section. The second theme appears at section 3. This part stops the tango rhythm and as Morton remarked 'stomp.' The piece ends with a straight forward 4/4 feeling to the end.  

Chicago Breakdown - 1925

Written in 8 bar phrases at Section A, section B contains jazz breaks leading to a D. s. that repeats section A to a 3rd ending which goes to the trio and modulates from Bb to Eb. The trio is also in 8 bar phrases (four times) with the last 8 bars containing new material with jazz breaks and a source of textual contrast.

Midnight Mama - 1925

This piece begins with a 4 bar introduction that leads to Section A. This section has an interesting constructed theme using repetition and the use of motif development. There is some use of syncopation. At section B the theme begins with a motif from the introduction ( o o o o ) which uses 16 bar song form (AABA) and A and B using material from the introduction. Section C is a repeat of section A. Section D ends the piece with a length of 18 bars that includes some jazz breaks, is also in song form of which the last 4 are extended by 2 bars.

Dead Man Blues - 1926

Considered Morton's masterpiece, the piece begins with Chopin's 'Funeral March' in the first 8 bars. Within this piece we hear musical and rhythmic echoes, polyphony, fragmented and split melodic lines, and stop time - all fads that reoccur at key moments, giving order to the liveliness of the whole. The piece manages to juxtapose a sober seriousness and a glinting sprightliness with complete and deceptive success. The first theme (A) stated in a lightly dancing polyphonic chorus. (This chorus echoed at the end by the fact the 3rd appearance of 3rd theme is also played polyphonically). These 2 choruses bring early jazz style to its highest development. Sections C and D present the 2nd theme with a series of blues variations for clarinet and trumpet. Section E is reminiscent of the first theme. The piece ends with the same Chopin quote.

Sidewalk Blues (Fish Tail Blues) - 1926

'Sidewalk Blues' begins with an 8 bar introduction with jazz breaks that lead to section A. A 12 bar blues that is repeated. Section B is also a 12 bar blues but with a different melody and harmony ending with a cadence in the bass in bars 11 and 12, as the A section does.

A transition of 4 bars with modulation from Ab to Db leads to section D. Section d is a 32 bar song form in 8 bar phrases. It is presented in long tones (whole and half notes) with two bars (7 & 8) in syncopated rhythm. This is reminiscent of the feeling of 'The Great Gate of Kiev.' It ends with ensemble playing new, melodic material. There is as coda of 4 bars that ends the piece in a Charleston rhythm.

Billy Goat Stomp - 1927

A stomp is defined as: "A heavy, strongly marked beat associated with early ragtime and early blues form, characterized by stamping feet."

Jelly Roll Morton's emphasis on composition and well rehearsed, coordinated performance was, during his era, unique and anti-theatrical in relation to the primarily extemporized collective New Orleans style. In his best ensemble work, especially with his Red Hot Peppers. Morton showed that composition and meticulously rehearsed arrangements were not incompatible with the spontaneity of improvised jazz but could in fact retain and enhance it. Ultimately he freed ragtime from its narrow structures by developing within it an ensemble style embracing homophony, improvised polyphony, solo improvisations, breaks, and a constant variation of texture and timbre.

Billy Goat Stomp was published in 1927 by Melrose It was assisted  by Tiny Parham who helped Morton in the arranging and the writing down of the piece. The procedure of this collaboration between Morton and his arrangers will be studied in this group of Morton compositions being played and written about.

This piece is in 8 bar sections, each more like a series of 8 bar riffs. There is no return to any central phrase but each section is like a one bar jazz break with and answered by the tutti ensemble. The final section is labeled a stomp and is like a tutti riff. This is a very interesting piece.  

Boogaboo - 1927

We are indeed fortunate to have had Morton and Melrose write down his music and work closely with educated arrangers to write out Morton's ideas on the sound of early New Orleans jazz. In this song we can see the use of the blues scale in the main theme (ex: at A, a flatted 3rd). At B we find a 16 bar section of 8/8 followed by a new theme of 16 bars. At C another 16 bars of music uses new material. At D there is a theme presented using the A theme. The theme of B is presented at section E with a few substitute chords.  

Hyena Stomp - 1927

The piece begins (section A) with a developed set of instrumental variations on a theme or riff. Morton recorded the piece as a piano solo in 1938 and it is a comprehensive and brilliant piece. The piece has only one theme and the basic theme is stated in 2 measures and is harmonically modulated in 16 bars and serves as an introduction. The next 16 bar the melody is stated again. There follows melodic caricatures and embellishments, each based on musical ideas related to what preceded and what follows.

Section B is a rhythmic variation that simplifies melody and harmony drastically (like a barrelhouse variation). Section C is an elaborate lyric transformation of the theme and presents a clarinet in the upper register with a simplified melody - a quasi second part to section C.

Section E is a set of variations made in the bass part imitating the phonic line of the trombone. Section F is reminiscent of the trumpet figures. Finally, section G is an ensemble tutti variation.  

Wild Man Blues - 1927

This piece begins with an introduction that contains jazz breaks of 8 bars length. The melody begins at section A and is in G minor in 4 bar phrases. Interesting is bar 33 that moves between major and minor. It is a great example of the progressive style of New Orleans early polyphonic jazz and its evolution to Chicago style jazz, with solo breaks occurring throughout. More advanced harmony and structure are used. There is a modulation at section 3 to C minor that uses the theme stated at j1 but it contains jazz breaks instead of whole notes and the rhythms of the first 8 bars, but with some slight alterations in the next phrase. The phrases and material differ from 1, using thematic motifs more often. It will be interesting to compare section 1 and 3. Section 1 is 32 bars long. Section 3 is 30 bars long with a 4 bar transition to 4 Section 4 acts as an out chorus and is marked 'boot that thing.'  

London Blues (Shoe Shine Blues) - 1928

A very structured piece that has intrigued jazzmen in the later 30's and remains an implicit challenge to jazz performers and composers. It is a 12 bar blues in form but it is ingeniously harmonized. The 4th section has the following chord progression:

Bl/F7C#/Bb/Bb7/Eb Ebm/Bb Fm6/G7/C7/F7/BbEbBb

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