Dear Poet Friends, and all true lovers of Jazz! Being a lover of Classical and Smooth Jazz, I had composed first two parts in Verse on the History and Evolution of Jazz Music. Seeing the poor response of the Readers to my Part One here, I was hesitant to post my Second Part. I would request the Readers to kindly read Part One of this True Story also for complete information. Please do read the Foot Notes. With best wishes, - from Raj Nandy of New Delhi.
THE STORY OF JAZZ MUSIC : PART-II
BY RAJ NANDY
NEW ORLEANS : THE CRADLE OF JAZZ
Straddling the mighty bend of the River Mississippi,
Which nicknames it as the ‘Crescent City’;
(Founded in 1718 as a part of French Louisiana
Stands the city of New Orleans.
New Orleans* gets its name from Phillippe II,
Duc d’ Orleans , the Regent of France ;
A city well known for its music, and fondness
The city remained as a French Colony until 1763,
When it got transferred to Spain as a Spanish
But in the year 1800, the Spanish through a
secret pact, -
To France had once again ceded the Colony back!
Finally in 1803 the historic ‘Louisiana Purchase’
took place ,
When Napoleon the First sold New Orleans and
the entire Louisiana State, -
To President Thomas Jefferson of the United
States! * (See notes below)
THE CONGO SQUARE :
The French New Orleans was a rather liberal
Where slaves were permitted to congregate,
For worship and trading in a market place,
But only on Sabbath Days, - their day of rest!
They had chosen a grassy place at the edge of
the old city,
Where they danced and sang to tom-tom beats,
Located north of the French Quarters across the
Which came to be known as the Congo Square,
Where one could hear clapping of hands and
stomping of feet!
There through folk songs, music, and varying
The slaves maintained their native African musical
traditions all along!
African music which remained suppressed in the
Protestant Colonies of the British,
Had found a freedom of expression in the Congo
Square by the natives; -
Through their Bamboula , Calanda, and Congo dance!
The Wolof and Bambara people from Senegal River
area of West Africa,
With their melodious singing and stringed instruments,
Became the forerunners of ‘Blues’ and the Banjo.
And during the Spanish Era, slaves from the Central
African Forest Culture of Congo,
Who with their hand-drummed polyrhythmic beats ,
Made people from Havana to Harlem to rise and
dance on their feet! (see notes below)
CULTURAL MIX :
After the Louisiana Purchase , English-speaking
Anglo and African-Americans flooded that State.
Due to cultural friction with the Creoles, the new-
comers settled ‘uptown’,
Creating an American Sector, separate from older
Creole ‘down-town’ !
This black American influx in the uptown had
The elements of the Blues, Spirituals, and rural
dances into New Orleans’ musical scene.
Now these African cultural expressions gradually
Into Mardi Indian traditions, and the Second Line.^^
And eventually into New Orleans’ Jazz and Blues;
As New Orleans became a cauldron of a rich
THE CREOLES :
The Creoles were not immigrants but were home-
They were the bi-racial children of their French
Masters and their African women slaves!
Creole subculture was centred in New Orleans.
But after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, -
The Creoles rose to the highest rung of Society! @
They lived on the east of Canal Street in the
French Sector of the city.
Many Creole musicians were formally trained in
Had played in Opera Houses there, and later led
Brass Bands in New Orleans.
Jelly Roll Morton, Kid Oliver, and Sidney Bechet
were all famous Creoles;
About whom I now write as this true Jazz Story
In sharp contrast on the west of Canal Street lived
the ***** musicians,
Who lacked the economic advantages the Creoles
possessed and had!
The Negroes were schooled in the Blues, Work Songs ,
and Gospel Music;
And played by the ear with improvisation as their
unique characteristic !
But in 1894 when Jim Crow’s racial segregation
laws came into force, # (see notes below)
The Creoles were forced to move West of Canal
Street to live with the Negroes.
This mingling lighted a ‘musical spark’ creating
a lightening musical flash;
Igniting the flames of a ‘new music’ which was
later called ‘Jazz’ !
INFLUENCE OF THE EARLY BRASS BANDS:
Those Brass Bands of the Civil War which played the
‘marching tunes’ ,
Became the precursors of New Orleans’ Brass Bands,
which later played at funeral marches, dance halls,
and saloons !
After the end of the Civil War those string and wind
instruments and drums, -
Were available in the second-hand stores and pawn
shops within reach of the poor, for a small tidy sum!
Many small bands mushroomed, and each town had
its own band stand and gazebos;
Entertained the town folks putting up a grand show!
Early roots of Jazz can be traced to these Bands and
their leaders like Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, Bunk
Johnson, and Kid Orley;
Not forgetting Jack 'Pappa' Laine’s Brass Band
leading the way of our Jazz Story !
The Original Dixieland Band of the cornet player
'Nick' La Rocca,
Was the first ever Jazz Band to entertain US Service
Men in World War-I and also to play in European
theatre, came later. (In 1916)
I plan to mention the Harlem Renaissance in my
Till then dear Readers kindly bear with me!
CONTRIBUTION OF STORYVILLE :
In the waning years of the 19th Century,
When Las Vegas was just a farming community,
The actual ‘sin city’ lay 1700 miles East, in the
heart of New Orleans!
By Alderman Story’s Ordinance of 1897,
A 20-block area got legalized and confined,
To the French Quarters on the North Eastern side
called ‘Storyville’, a name acquired after him!
This 'red light' area resounded with a new
seductive music ‘jassing up’ one and all;
Which played in its Bordello, Saloons, and the
Dance Halls ! (refer my Part One)
Now the best of Bordellos hired a House Pianist,
who also greeted guests, and was a musical
Whom the girls addressed respectfully as -
Jelly Roll Morton, Tony Jackson author of
‘Pretty Baby’, and Frank ‘Dude’ Amacher, -
Were all well-known Storyville’s ‘Professors’.
Early jazz men who played in Storyville’s Orchestra
and Bands are now all musical legends;
Like ‘King’ Oliver, Buddy Bolden, Kid Orley, Bunk
Johnson, and Sydney Bechet. ++ (see notes below)
Louis Armstrong who was born in New Orleans,
As a boy had supplied coal to the ‘cribs’ of
Storyville ! ^ (see notes below)
Louis had also played in the bar for $1.25 a night;
Surely the contribution of Storyville to Jazz Music
can never be denied!
But when America joined the First World War in
A Naval Order was issued to close down Storyville;
Since waging war was more important than making
love the Order had said !
And from the port of New Orleans US Warships
had subsequently set sail.
Here I now pause my friends to take a break.
Part Three of this story is yet to be composed,
Will depend on my Reader’s response !
Please do read below the handy Foot Notes.
Thanks from Raj Nandy of New Delhi.
New Orleans one of the oldest of cosmopolitan city of Louisiana, also the 18th State of US, & a major port.
Louisiana was sold by France for $15 Million, & was later realized to be a great achievement of Thomas Jefferson!
Many African Strands of Folk Music & Dance forms had merged at the Congo Square.
^^ ’Second Line Music’= Bands playing during funerals & marches, evoked voluntary crowd participation, with songs and dances as appropriate forming a ''Second Line'' from behind.
@ Those liberal French Masters offered the Creoles the best of Education with access to their White Society!
# ’Jim Crow'= Between 1892 & 1895, 'Blacks' gained political prominence in Southern States. In 1896 land-rich whites disenfranchised the Blacks completely! A 25 year's long hatred
& racial segregation began. Tennessee led by passing the ‘Jim Crow’ Law ! In 1896, Supreme Court upheld this Law with - ‘’Separate But Equal’’ status for the Blacks. Thus segregation became a National Institution! This segregation divided the Black & White Musicians too!
+ Birth of Jazz was a slow and an evolving process, with Blues and Ragtime as its precursor! “Jazz Is Quintessence of Afro-American Music born on European Instruments.”
++ Jelly ‘Roll’ Morton (1885-1941) at 17 years played piano in the brothels, – applying swinging syncopation to a variety of music; a great 'transitional figure' between Ragtime & Jazz Piano-style.
++ BUDDY BOLDEN (1877-1931) = his cornet improvised by adding ‘Blues’ to Ragtime in Orleans during 1900-1907, which later became Jazz! BUNK JOHNSON (1879-1849 ) = was a pioneering jazz trumpeter who inspired Louis Armstrong. KID OLIVER (1885-1938) =Cornet player and & a Band-leader, mentor & teacher of Louis Armstrong; pioneered use of ‘mute’ in music! ‘Mute’ is a device fitted to instruments to alter the timber or tonal quality, reducing the sound, or both.
KID ORLEY (1886-1973) : a pioneering Trombonist, developed the '‘tailgate style’' playing rhythmic lines underneath the trumpet & cornet, propagating Early Jazz. SYDNEY BECHET (1897-1959) = pioneered the use of Saxophone; a composer & a soloist, inspired Armstrong. His pioneering style got his name in the ‘Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame’! LOUIS ARMSTRONG (1890-1971) = Trumpeter, singer, & great improviser. First international soloist, who took New Orleans Jazz Music to the World!
% = After America joined WW-I in 1917, a Naval Order was issued to shut-down Storyville, to check the spread of VD amongst sailors!
^^ ”Cribs”= cheap residential buildings where prostitutes rented rooms. Louis Armstrong as a boy supplied coal in those ‘Cribs’.
During the 1940 s Storyville was raised to the ground to make way for Iberville Federal Housing Project.
ALL COPYRIGHTS RESERVED BY THE AUTHOR : RAJ NANDY **
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
My love for Jazz Music made me to dig-up its past History and share it with few interested Readers of this Site! Thanks, -Raj