Wed, 5 January 2011
This week’s Podcast takes a look back to the dawn of jazz, courtesy of a conversation with author David Fulmer. Fulmer is the author of a series of novels set in Storyville, the sin capital of New Orleans in the early decades of the 20th century. Fictional characters mingle with historical figures from the world of jazz, including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, and a barely out of short pants Louis Armstrong.
His first published novel, Chasing the Devil's Tail, won a Shamus Award in 2002 and an AudioFile Golden Earphones Award in 2008. It was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Falcon Award and a Barry Award, and was selected for Borders "Best of 2003 List" among other plaudits.
Jass, the second Storyville mystery, was published in January of 2005. It was selected for the Best of 2005 lists by Library Journal and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and won the Georgia Author of the Year Award for Fiction.
Fulmer and I discussed how he re-creates a by-gone era, and in wonderful detail describes what the sweaty clubs of Storyville must have felt and sounded like when “jass” was being born.
Appropriate music from this time period punctuates the interview, including:
Jelly Roll Morton - “Buddy Bolden’s Blues (I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say)” from Last Sessions: The Complete General Recordings. He claimed that he originated jazz in 1902, but that might just be boasting. Regardless, pianist Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe a.k.a. Jelly Roll Morton (1885-1941) turned folk music and ragtime into what we might today think of as jazz.
Original Dixieland Jass Band – “Tiger Rag” from The Complete Original Dixieland Jazz Band. The first commercial jazz recording was made on August 17, 1917 in New York City for Aeolian-Vocalian Records, but since it was made in a soon to be obsolete format, it was re-recorded on March 25, 1918 on Victor records. While the song had been played for at least a decade before this recording was made, but it was copyrighted then, with credit going to band members Nick La Rocca, Eddie Edwards, Henry Ragas, Tony Sbarbaro, and Larry Shields, along with Harry Da Costa. Please note that none of them were African-American.
Cookie’s Gingersnaps – “Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man” from The Complete Freddie Keppard Heritage. Cornet player Freddie Keppard supposedly sounded the most like Buddy Bolden of anyone who recorded pre-1930. The Gingersnaps are one of many names used by Doc Cooke (an actual Doctor of Music) and his Orchestra, which featured Keppard, Jimmy Noone, Johnny St. Cyr, Zutty Singleton and Luis Russell, many of whom worked extensively with Louis Armstrong.
King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band – “Dipper Mouth Blues” from Louis Armstrong – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Perhaps the finest collection of musicians to come out of New Orleans (the recording was made in Chicago) was the members of the band led by Joe “King” Oliver. He began playing around 1908, and by 1923, he had put together an all-star band of he and Louis Armstrong on cornet, Honore Dutrey on trombone, Stump Evans on sax, Johnny St. Cyr on banjo, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Baby Dodds on drums, Lil Hardin (later Armstrong) on piano, and Bill Johnson on bass.
New Orleans Rhythm Kings – “Wolverine Blues (2nd Take)” from 1922-1923- Birth Of Jazz. The New Orleans Rhythm Kings Gennett recordings were a big influence on many of the white bands and musicians of the 1920s. Unlike La Rocca, Paul Mares did not try to deny the African-American roots of Jazz. The New Orleans Rhythm Kings were heavily influenced by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and became the first group to put out a "racially mixed" Jazz record in 1923 with "Sobbin' Blues", featuring Jelly Roll Morton. Morton went on to record five more tunes with the band.
Louis Armstrong – “Two Deuces” from Louis Armstrong – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. June 29, 1928, in Chicago, this Lil Hardin Armstrong composition featured Louis on trumpet and vocals, along with Fred Robinson (Trombone) , Jimmy Strong (Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone), Earl “Fatha” Hines (Piano), Mancy Carr (Banjo) and Zutty Singleton (Drums).\
Dr. John - “Buddy Bolden’s Blues (I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say)” from Back to New Orleans. Because Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John the Night Tripper, the heir to all great New Orleans piano music and the newest inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (it should be noted that Jellyroll is a member as well), should have the final word.
Direct download: Podcast_209_-_A_Conversation_with_David_Fulmer.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:41pm EDT