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Chapter
4
New Orleans
Overview

While the usual claim for New Orleans as the unique “birthplace” of jazz may be somewhat exaggerated, the city’s distinctive cultural climate provided a microcosm for the social forces that created jazz—in particular, tensions within the nominally “black” community between “Creoles of color” and lower-class black populations, and the interactions between these musicians and “white” musicians of many ethnic backgrounds. The nascent New Orleans jazz style is exemplified by the music of cornetist Buddy Bolden, whose work was never recorded. This was a music that adapted oral musical techniques of lower-class origin to the new demands of professional dance music, thus setting the direction for jazz for decades to come. We outline the basic elements of New Orleans style, discuss the Great Migration and its importance to the development of jazz, and look in detail at the music of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Jelly Roll Morton, Joe “King” Oliver, and Sidney Bechet.

  • Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Dixie Jass Band One-Step
  • Jelly Roll Morton, Dead Man Blues
  • Jelly Roll Morton, Doctor Jazz
  • King Oliver, Snake Rag
  • Red Onion Jazz Babies (Sidney Bechet), Cake Walking Babies (from Home)

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