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The hidden history of swing

GUEST,josepp 02 Aug 11 - 12:28 PM
josepp 02 Aug 11 - 12:35 PM
josepp 02 Aug 11 - 12:35 PM
Bonzo3legs 02 Aug 11 - 03:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Aug 11 - 04:07 PM
josepp 02 Aug 11 - 07:50 PM
TinDor 03 Aug 11 - 11:38 AM
josepp 03 Aug 11 - 12:22 PM
Stringsinger 03 Aug 11 - 01:03 PM
josepp 03 Aug 11 - 06:53 PM
Bonzo3legs 04 Aug 11 - 06:27 AM
TinDor 05 Aug 11 - 12:11 AM
GUEST,josepp 08 Sep 11 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Josepp 08 Sep 11 - 04:37 PM
Richie 09 Sep 11 - 01:30 AM
Richie 09 Sep 11 - 01:44 AM
Darowyn 09 Sep 11 - 03:05 AM
Chris in Portland 09 Sep 11 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Josepp 09 Sep 11 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,Josepp 09 Sep 11 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Josepp 09 Sep 11 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,josepp 09 Sep 11 - 07:34 PM
Darowyn 10 Sep 11 - 03:43 AM
Helen 10 Sep 11 - 05:16 AM
GUEST 10 Sep 11 - 08:43 AM
Chris in Portland 10 Sep 11 - 08:55 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 10 Sep 11 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,josepp 10 Sep 11 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Josepp 10 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,josepp 10 Sep 11 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,josepp 10 Sep 11 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,josepp 10 Sep 11 - 01:38 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 10 Sep 11 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,josepp 10 Sep 11 - 03:02 PM
Helen 10 Sep 11 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,josepp 27 Dec 11 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,FloraG 28 Dec 11 - 04:26 AM
JohnInKansas 28 Dec 11 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,josepp 28 Dec 11 - 05:56 PM
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Subject: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 12:28 PM

Like America's anthropological history, we seem to ignore a lot of things about our musical history. We have it categorized into nice little digestible chunks and yet it is woefully incomplete to the point of being dysfunctional because we discard or ignore that which doesn't fit but must be accounted for nonetheless. When I tell people that we know more about European music from 300 years ago than we do about America's at the turn of the century or that bluegrass did not descend from Irish, English or Celtic music, people cite internet sources to dispute this. Of course, many internet sources simply copy one another (often word-for-word) so these can hardly be called authoritative. One idiot writes something that may or may not have any truth to it and everyone else copies and pastes it as though it is indisputable.

A lot of factors are at play—racism, new technologies giving rise to an uncertain future, copyright laws or lack of, etc. No one can deny the black influence in America's music—would, in fact, be very foolish to do so—but this has come at the expense of some of the early white singers, songwriters and musicians of the era around 1890 to about 1920. How much do we owe to them? We really can't say.

We know that the first jazz band to record was the Original Dixieland Jass Band out of New Orleans in 1917. They were white. Sometimes the charge of racism is leveled to explain this. Why not a black band—surely there were plenty? Jazz historian, Ed Love, who hosts a very long-running PBS jazz radio program on WDET in Detroit, stated that a Creole of color named Freddie Keppard was contacted in 1916 to record jazz before ODJB but since jazz recording was uncharted waters, Keppard felt that other musicians would hear his playing and steal his style and take credit for it and so turned down the offer which then went to ODJB. But is this the whole story? Was ODJB, for example, anywhere on par with Keppard's band? We have the recordings but, of course, recording quality being what it was (there wasn't even electrical recording technology in 1917), we can't be certain how good they truly were.

The band's cornetist, Nick LaRocca, even went so far as to claim that New Orleans jazz was invented by white musicians and that blacks "had nothing to do with it." Many historians of jazz have puzzled over this statement which is an incredible one to be sure. Was he tired of hearing about how jazz was a black invention as though whites had nothing to do with it and sought to turn the tables by making one incredible statement to counter another or was he dead serious and honestly believed what he stated?

Indeed, when we look back through the photographic evidence, we see white jazz bands in New Orleans quite early—Stalebread Lacoume's Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band from 1906, Happy Schilling's band from 1915, The Jazzola Six from 1918, etc. Names integral to early jazz keep turning up—Johnny Bayersdorffer, Bud, Joe, Deacon and Freddie Loyacano, Alfred and Manuel Mello, Monk Hazel, Tony Parenti, Alfred, Julian and Papa Jack Laine, Sharky Bonano, Abbie, Richie and George Brunies, Leon Roppolo, Johnny De Droit—all very influential men who undoubtedly played jazz at a time when whites are often marginalized in the histories regarding the development of that genre. And this is only in New Orleans.

What characterizes jazz in contrast to regular society dance band of that era? In a word "swing." Jazz swung in a way that set it apart from other popular music of the period. I'm going to assume the reader knows what is meant by swing so I'm not going to launch into an analysis of the term as that would be a thread in itself. By the 20s, jazz was generally classified in three ways: sweet, corn and swing. Sweet jazz was ordinary dance band fare slightly jazzed up, i.e. it had a bit of swing to it. Paul Whiteman's band from that period was an example of sweet jazz. Corn jazz was popular among the college set. It was really a subset of sweet jazz but had a bit more swing to it. I love corn jazz personally. Paul Tremaine's 1929 recording "Four-Four Rhythm" is corn as is Lou Weimers' Gold and Black Aces "Merry Widow's Got a Sweetie Now." This is the kind of stuff one sees in old footage being sung by guys in the big fur coats or letter sweaters holding megaphones. Hillbilly skits were popular with corn and Kay Kyser's band was a continuation of corn into the big band era. Swing jazz is a bit more nebulous as some say it didn't exist in terms of songs but only in terms of interpretation. I don't know if I agree with that. Kid Ory's "Savoy Blues" seems to me to be purely swing jazz. There really isn't any other way to play it. The Hot Five being a good example of the swing sub-genre as well as Jelly Roll Morton's 1926 Victor recordings. But regardless, swing jazz simply pulled out the stops and went full-tilt on the swing.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: josepp
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 12:35 PM

But when exactly did swing come into play on the American music scene? Therein lies the rub. We're not sure. What we can surmise is that one of the sources of jazz is ragtime. This is not to say that ragtime was an early form of jazz. Certainly Scott Joplin's pieces were not early jazz being much more closely related classical music. There would need to be an intermediate musical form to assist in the transformation of ragtime to jazz and there was—the cakewalk.

The cakewalk, which actually precedes ragtime, is both a dance and a musical form. The cakewalk dance was originally done by slave couples decked out in their best Sunday regalia performing the most ridiculous, most exaggerated, most ostentatious walk between two lines of dancers with the winners getting a huge cake as a prize (they were mocking white people's style of dance). The cakewalk evolved into a 2-step dance made famous by Charles E. Johnson and his wife Dora. Cakewalk as a musical genre started in the 1871 with Rollin Howard's "Good Enough" which is the first known published cakewalk and then in 1876 with a piece by Harrigan & Hart called "Walking For Dat Cake."

Cakewalking music was further popularized in the 1890s with black composers as Ernest Hogan who wrote "coon songs" in cakewalk format.

https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/bitstream/handle/1774.2/16579/140.011.000.webimage.JPEG?sequence=9

http://cravenlovelace.com/images/Hogan/hogan.jpg

But whites, long accustomed to performing in blackface and singing in pseudo-Negro dialects due to minstrelsy (of which cakewalk is a part), were very taken with the coon songs—many of which were terribly racist such as Lew Dockstader's "Coon Coon Coon."

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/1900s_SM_Coon_Coon_Coon.jpg

Eventually, blacks abandoned cakewalk music almost entirely with Hogan even apologizing for starting it. As a result, cakewalk pieces are more white than black since the true cakewalk pieces we have today from that era were written almost exclusively by whites and three composers specialized in them: Abe Holzmann, J. Bodewalt Lampe, and Kerry Mills—all white. John Philip Souza and Arthur Pryor (formerly with Souza) also played cakewalks with their marching bands. But the line between cakewalk and ragtime is blurred. Scott Joplin and Arthur Marshall wrote "Swipesy Cakewalk" in 1901 and many ragtime scholars pronounce the piece to be a rag and not a cakewalk; yet, it certainly sounds more like a cakewalk than a rag to me but then John Stark, Joplin's publisher, actually named the piece. We can only wonder if he truly thought the piece was a cakewalk (possibly because the authors told him it was) or whether his use of the term was whimsical. Cakewalk as a dance remained popular among both whites and blacks as evidenced by the popularity of vaudeville team of Bert Williams and George Walker in the early part of the 20th century who were the premier cakewalkers of that time and even Teddy Roosevelt stated they were cakewalking in the White House during their leisure moments.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lm6wpuKHS91qzun0bo1_r1_500.jpg

The cakewalk dance glided easily into the early jazz age where it continued to be popular. So while ragtime was a source of jazz, it was the cakewalk that propelled ragtime into jazz because the dance gave the idea of "swing." In fact, the cakewalk evolved or mutated into a true jazz dance known very famously as the lindy-hop. In the clip below, white cakewalking couples on the beach engage in certain moves that are extremely reminiscent of the lindy-hop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sDnVIeSn_k


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: josepp
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 12:35 PM

So the idea of swing had to have preceded jazz and had, in fact, made the existence of jazz inevitable. The strange thing is, the earliest examples I can find came from white performers. One of the most important and yet unknown has to be Elida Morris's "Trolley Car Swing" from 1912. Classified as ragtime, I hear very little of anything resembling ragtime in it. What I hear is a very early form of female jazz singing. Something that foreshadowed Mamie Smith, Ethel Waters, Ella Mae Morse, Anita O'Day and Billie Holiday. The song is important because it is beyond a doubt an early rap song as well as containing the term "swing" that could only be understood in the same way that Duke used it years later when he said, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing." The question is, how did Elida Morris come to record this and who was she listening to as an aspiring singer?

Are we to suppose this obscure white female singer from the early part of the 20th century invented the notion of swing? Clearly, this is a stretch but it also demands an answer. What we have to concede is that the term "swing" in its musical usage has been around a lot longer than we care to admit.

We find a similar situation with blues. By the 1920s, blues appeared to have an entirely black listening audience. The vast majority of the blues artists were black with exceptions as Jimmie Rodgers who mixed rural white country song with blues. Howard Armstrong stated in the documentary "Louie Bluie" that he and his band mates in those days could not play blues for white audiences who simply did not want to hear it. We are told that Blind Lemon Jefferson was the first true 12-bar blues artists to record which was in 1926—that earlier blues artists were really singing Tin Pan Alley fare with "Blues" in the title but which had little resemblance to real blues. Yet the earliest known published blues is "Dallas Blues" written by a white Oklahoma City bandleader named Hart Ancker Wand in 1912 and there is some anecdotal evidence that the song was actually written by 1909. Must not be a true blues number, right? Wrong. It is a standard 12-bar blues published prior to W. C. Handy's "Memphis Blues" (a.k.a. "Mr. Crump") which was not a true blues to begin with. The earliest known recording of "Dallas Blues" was in 1918 by a black bandleader and composer named Wilbur Sweatman (who composed one of my favorite early jazz pieces "Down Home Rag"). The song was quite popular along the Mississippi River.

Again, we have to concede that it is not possible that Wand invented blues. That illiterate black sharecroppers from Texas to Mississippi—many of whom had never heard of Wand or his song—could have built huge blues repertoires and several subgenres (e.g. Mississippi, Texas, Memphis, North Mississippi and Piedmont) from this single source is untenable at best but nevertheless we must ask where Wand learned about blues since he clearly knew what constituted a blues number. On the other hand, "Dallas Blues" is a bit stiff—quite lovely but stiff. Whether Wand heard blues being played somewhere as Handy allegedly did while traveling through Mississippi or thought up the song on his own, Wand had a concept of what a real blues was at a time when whites were not supposed to know this. But our knowledge is woefully incomplete in another way: we can't be certain that Wand published the first blues. Earlier pieces certainly could have been published. But even if this turns out to be the case, we should not be surprised if the composers still turn out to be white.

By 1916, a white bandleader named Gus Haenschen recorded a piece called "Sunset Melody" in which the opening strain was a standard blues thereby belying the claim that Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded the first blues a decade later. Again, we must concede that blues were well known to the American public in the early half of the 20th century as was the concept of swing. As with rap decades later, whites picked up on it and some undoubtedly excelled at it. Wilbur Sweatman's band was undoubtedly one of first to truly swing in the 1910s but they recorded songs written whites and blacks alike. No doubt a lot of white writers and musicians enjoyed hearing their pieces swing as they themselves never envisioned and this had a great influence on how they thought about and approached new music. Then how did the blues of the 1920s and 30s become so entirely black? Again, that's one of those missing pieces—we simply don't know.

Remember that duringWW2, the Japanese cut off shellac shipments to the West. Shellac was essential for making records and so the government hoarded it for the war effort. This was compounded by a musicians' union strike that lasted from 1942 until '44. Newly formed labels as Capitol, resorted to buying up old records and record stocks, crushing them up, melting them down and pressing new recordings. By war's end, Capitol alone sold over 40 million records! That means a lot of old recordings were destroyed and no doubt a huge number were lost forever. So the missing pieces in our musical history are not so hard to understand.

Political correctness also plays a role in trying to understand the gaps in our musical history. White ragtime and early jazz singers as Arthur Collins have been ignored because he was a "coon-shouter" i.e. a white man who sang in a stereotypical black dialect. He makes us uncomfortable in this modern age so let's just pretend he didn't exist and, when forced to confront his existence, let's pretend he was of no consequence and had no influence. The truth is, Arthur Collins, for better or worse, was important to the formation of jazz—coon-shouter though he was. He popularized many of the songs and styles we take for granted today.

Brother Noah Gave Out Checks for Rain (1907):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f1xSX9B4iE

Hello Ma Baby (1899):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOo-zKk0x4Q&feature=related

To accept the importance of an Arthur Collins is to admit something about the roots of jazz that many jazz-lovers today simply don't want to think about. The lindy-hop evolving out of the cakewalk, jazz singing evolving out of coon-shouting—this flies in the face of the legacy bequeathed to us by the black performers of this bygone era who had a far-reaching vision of black-American musical expression becoming one of art—a distinctly American art. These black performers and composers include Williams & Walker, Scott Joplin, James Reese Europe, Will Marion Cook, Aida Overton (George Walker's wife), Wilbur Sweatman, James Scott, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles Warfield, etc. They had fought so hard against the prevailing racial stereotypes to advance the cause of black music and elevate it to the art form that jazz is now recognized to be (although we can't say that they specifically foresaw this particular evolution) only to admit that jazz at its root was helped along greatly by white artists and white racism.

But we must understand the racism in context. The racism of post-war minstrelsy and ragtime served to defuse racial tensions between whites and the newly freed blacks. Blacks were depicted as buffoons sho nuff but therefore also as harmless, contented, dumb-but-happy, comical and even endearing in a condescending way. As bad as it looks to us today through our politically correct filters, the Lew Dockstaders and the Arthur Collinses of that period were, to some extent, helping blacks to assimilate—as long as they knew their station in society. We don't know if Dockstader or Collins personally felt that way or were consciously trying to help blacks assimilate but it was the end result that enabled the American public to eventually accept black music as an art form and blacks themselves as artists.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 03:41 PM

And now scientology has a foothold - The Jive Aces!!


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 04:07 PM

Worthwhile posts with a lot of material to consider. I hope they draw out other thoughtful contributions.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: josepp
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 07:50 PM

Ah, here it is:

Four Four Rhythm

Sweet piece of corn jazz. Oddly, it seems to be in 2/4 rhythm.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: TinDor
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 11:38 AM

Jazz and Blues existed years before they were put to record or published going back atleast to the 1890's.

The main influence that transformed Ragtime to Jazz was the Blues influence. The Blues influence is where it's phrasing/vocal imitations/blues tonality comes from. "Swing" as a description of rhythm is also older than what "Swing" came to be mean in the big band swing era.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: josepp
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 12:22 PM

It's undoubtedly true that swing preexisted jazz. That's not what my point is. My point is that swing and blues were actually well known not only among blacks and not only among white musicians but throughout the general public LONG before the term is believed to have come into general usage. It doesn't make sense that white musicians and singers were making records with "Swing" in the titles in the early 1900s if the white public didn't know what swing was.

Why would Hart Wand or Gus Haenschen publish or record blues for a white public that suppposedly would not have known much about it? Because the public DID know about it. But standard histories of the growth and development of blues don't say this. Sometime between 1916 and 1926, whites lost contact with the blues. We don't know why. But we must consider that the popularity and spread of blues was to some degree helped along in the early days by white writers and musicians who peddled it to a white public. That whites today love blues and have learned to play it quite was really a rediscovery not a first-time discovery. But that's not how we're taught about it.

And as far as swing goes, whites would appear to have had as much to do with its evolution as blacks from the earliest times and that blacks were borrowing as much from whites as the other way around. It's not really that difficult to understand but our histories don't seem to want to admit this for the reasons I've mentioned.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 01:03 PM

What we know of swing came from the popular dance form, the fox trot. From a musical level, swing encompasses a 4/4 time signature which changes its rhythmic emphasis from the 2/4 influence of the marching band found in earlier jazz forms.
The change in phrasing is from a dotted eighth and sixteenth note toward a smoother frame in a triplet whereby the first eighth note receives the equivalent of two eighths and the last, the third eighth. This is particularly a contribution of the tradition of African-American musicians. Some think this was innovated in Chicago. What we know of swing stems from the musical organization known as the dance band from 1939, having two historical components, the hotel band represented by Count Basie and the dance hall's Benny Goodman, and the Southwest Texas swing by Bob Wills, the Texas Playboys and Milton Brown of the Brownies. The innovation of the first electric guitar comes from
a steel guitarist hooking up his instrument, Dunn, to a radio speaker. Prior to the advent of the electric guitar, the dance band guitarist typified by Allen Ruess, (Benny Goodman) Freddie Green (Count Basie) and most notably Eddy Lang, the father of the jazz guitar behind Beiderbecke and others which changed the nature of the rhythm section found in the swing band.

Swing became a commercial entity with the dance band on the popular music front. Skilled arrangers such as Don Redman, Jimmy Lunceford, the early Washingtonians, etc. all derived their ideas from a seminal influence in the role of jazz soloing, Louis Armstrong. They were penning Louis's licks.

One important historical event in jazz which is often overlooked was the role of musicians from Italian ancestry which possibly could have influenced the swing style, many of these musicians from New Orleans, and seen today as vocalists in the swing style of singing, Bennett, Francis, Sinatra, and others. The ODJB included some. Also, Jewish jazz from the heyday of New York broadcasting produced Bunny Berigan, Ziggy Elman, Benny Goodman, all exponents of the swing style of dance music.

I think one thing is inescapable. Without African-Americans bringing to the table a new way of thinking about music, there would be no jazz. White musicians have drawn inspiration from this tradition and many have excelled but to say that it would have occurred without the history of slavery in Black America is denial.
At the point of sounding potentially racist, I advocate that there is a manner in the culture and physiology of the Black musician that comes to jazz naturally as it crossed the ocean from Africa. Much of this is cultural, Black music is ensemble-based and not individually soloist. Whites can't take credit for this, and should celebrate it as being the fountain from which jazz flows. Jazz has become a universal language throughout the world where many nations can participate in it, realizing of course, no Black culture, no jazz.

The field holler, the 12 bar blues, the chain gang chant, the Sukey Jumps, the skill at fiddle and banjo of the plantation musicians, the ensemble approach to music typified by the African-American church spirituals and gospels, and the innovative foray into popular music all attest to the role of Black Americans in creating jazz an ultimately swing. This is not to say that white folks can't swing but the inspiration for this expression is decidedly African-American and any defense to the contrary must come from those who have a vested interest in limiting the role of African-American musicians. You can't sell that, sorry.

Meanwhile, jazz flourishes all over the world with different stylistic components, a great ambassador for intercultural understanding.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: josepp
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 06:53 PM

Stringsinger has performed a great service here: he gives us the usual white liberal tripe with all its political correctness in the fore so he won't be called a racist. As per this type of individual, he simply ignores what he can't explain. He wishes to reiterate that jazz is BLACK DAMN IT!!!! And that whites hung around and managed to get in on it but otherwise contributed nothing useful and invokes the almighty name of Louis Armstrong while ignoring that Louis thought the best orchestra he ever heard was Guy Lombardo and the best trumpter was Bix--this from a man who learned from King Oliver and Bunk Johnson.

Fortunately, we have a modern parallel called rocknroll. Black in its origin certainly. But who popularized it (and we're not going to even bring up the Alan Freeds and the Sam Phillipses)? Elvis--far and away it was Elvis. Elvis never made any bones that rocknroll was black and that Fats Domino was the true king of rocknroll. Hell, Elvis wasn't even the first rocknroll star--it was black performer named Johnny Ace who was already dead by the time Elvis started his career. But who is remembered today? It may not be fair that Johnny is forgotten while Elvis lives forever but it a fact and it has to be taken into account.

As great as Fats was, who sold more copies of "Ain't That a Shame"--Fats or Pat Boone. Pat Boone by a huge margin. And Fats wrote the damn song! Now we could accuse Boone of just capitalizing on Fats but his cover actually exposed Fats to a white audience who previously ignored him and it opened up his career. A kind of microcosm--Fats as the originator but Boone as the popularizer. Both needed the other and both knew it.

Even though Big Joe Turner did "Shake, Rattle and Roll" before Bill Haley, Haley had the bigger selling version. Not only was Joe not miffed about it, he and Haley became very close and even toured together and Joe always deferred "Shake" to Bill. In turn, when Joe needed a band, Bill lent him his Comets (all white guys no less) without getting involved in it himself. They were good fishing buddies.

And what kind of stuff did Fats and Ray Charles and Chuck Berry grow up listening to? Why that would be white country. Another of those facts that isn't much put out today is that Grand Ol' Opry had a huge black audience. Fats, in fact, loved Hank Williams. Chuck loved Bob Wills (and who could blame him?). And if you could ask Jimi Hendrix who it was that inspired him to want to be a performer, he would tell you Elvis whom he actually saw live in 1957 and it changed his life.

I read an interview with Diana Ross who said that everybody at Motown watched the Beatles very closely--and they all had their favorite Beatle songs (hers was "Strawberry Fields"). I once heard B.B. King with my own two little ears state that one of his favorite guitarists was Robert Fripp because he took electric guitar where it had never gone before. And he loved Les Paul.

Why then should we assume that this trade-off of influences never went on before 1956? It's silly. Blacks influenced whites, whites influenced blacks. It's a two-way street and always has been. If a black person listened to a record of a popular song in 1908, the chances were very good that he was hearing a white artist and that he was going to be influenced by that. And this is proven with the case of Mississippi John Hurt who stated the only recording artist he heard growing up was Jimmie Rodgers.

It has nothing to do with who invented what--which is not even an interesting argument to me. I'm far more interested in how it grew and matured and spread and became a living entity of itself. It happened on a FAR wider scale at the turn of the century than people today can accept because they buy into myopic pseudo-histories that, in trying to right a wrong, commits an even an bigger one.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 06:27 AM

So how did that tuneless abomination called Modern Jazz appear??

Give me the banjo pumping UK trad jazz of the 50s & 60s anyday!!


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: TinDor
Date: 05 Aug 11 - 12:11 AM

"Why would Hart Wand or Gus Haenschen publish or record blues for a white public that suppposedly would not have known much about it? Because the public DID know about it. But standard histories of the growth and development of blues don't say this. Sometime between 1916 and 1926, whites lost contact with the blues. We don't know why. But we must consider that the popularity and spread of blues was to some degree helped along in the early days by white writers and musicians who peddled it to a white public. That whites today love blues and have learned to play it quite was really a rediscovery not a first-time discovery. But that's not how we're taught about it."



white southerners in America knew about southern black american music but white americans outside of the south didn't that's why Blues music was new to them.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 08 Sep 11 - 04:07 PM

////So how did that tuneless abomination called Modern Jazz appear??

Give me the banjo pumping UK trad jazz of the 50s & 60s anyday!!////

Chris Barber, you mean? I've played with and recorded guys who do dixieland jazz (which is all "banjo pumping UK trad jazz" is) and there's a reason most of these guys are old: because nobody any younger wants to play that stuff all the time day in and day out. I have no problem playing or listening to Dixieland but not all the time. Putting down anything that came later is like saying Jelly Roll Morton is great but Oscar Peterson sucks and that's simply not a credible position to take.

////white southerners in America knew about southern black american music but white americans outside of the south didn't that's why Blues music was new to them.////

But that doesn't explain the dearth of white blues listeners that occurred from the middle of the 1910s and lasted until WW2 when Ella Mae Morse burst on the scene. There was no white blues record-buying market during those years. If there was then someone should have told Gayle Dean Wardlow that he was wasting his time canvassing black neighborhoods in search of old blues records, he should have been cavassing white neighborhoods but we know that's silly.    If whites were buying them, we'd have way more old blues records available to us today. But we don't have this problem with jazz, because whites were avid jazz fans from early on. Mighty Mouse and the 3 Stooges proved that.

Now, I'm sure the rise of Hawaiian music from 1915 on had a lot to do with the drop in popularity of blues in the white public which seems to have started at that point but it doesn't explain it fully. Jazz didn't suffer as nearly as badly. Hawaiian music was extremely popular in the Jazz Age but we still call it the Jazz Age. There was something else and it must have been linked to a racial/class perception that suddenly took root.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,Josepp
Date: 08 Sep 11 - 04:37 PM

As much as I admire Wynton Marsalis, he says stuff that is sheer nonsense sometimes. He said that Louis Armstrong was the musical equal of Bach. Louis was certainly very talented, influential and a great sight-reader but he could not possibly have been a musical equal to Bach.

Bach had a tremendous musical education in the tradition of the finest Europe had to offer at that time. Louis was a black kid growing up in a segregated Southern city that disdained its own jazz culture at that time (remember the city officials allowed the Navy roughnecks to shut down Storyville in 1917 no differently than the brownshirts shut down the jazz clubs in Berlin a couple of decades later).

I'm not knocking Louis. If he had been given Bach's schooling, he might have been greater than Bach--I don't know. But Louis was known as a great musician not as a composer. Even "Struttin' With Some Barbeque" was really written by Lil Hardin and not Louis. Bach wrote some of the most enduring music the world has ever known.

Louis may have equalled Mozart as a musician--I can't say for certain, of course. But certainly Mozart was far superior at composing. The man could write entire operas in his head before he even set them down on paper. What opera did Louis write?

Louis should be given his due because without him there might not be any jazz today. But he was not the musical equal of Bach. Scott Joplin or James Scott were closer to matching Bach than Louis. Hell, for that matter, so was Jimi Hendrix or Willie Dixon.

The truth seems to me to be that black American musicians have rarely concentrated their talents in the area of classical composition because it hasn't been a relevant music in their lives with rare exceptions as Paul Chambers. To compare a Louis with a Bach is largely useless. I don't think it is necessary to demonstrate Louis's greatness by comparing him to Bach and I think it does a disservice to black American music by implying that somehow it isn't on par with white European music.

As the so-called "Ambassador of Jazz," Wynton would do well to avoid that kind of thing.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Richie
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 01:30 AM

Dixieland jazz was based on the Marching Band tradition of Sousa and others which dates circa 1880.

Swing implies syncopation which came from the cakewalk circa 1880 then ragtime composers.

Blues have been documented from that general time period. You could say that most white musicians from the Carter Family to The Carolina Tar Heels knew the blues and played it it in the 1920s. Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, played predominately blues.

Predating this was the minstrel show, which you could say was whites imitating blacks.

The music is American with many influences, maybe race shouldn't be an issue.

Richie


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Richie
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 01:44 AM

Where did this bluegrass song come from?

Chorus: Hallelujah, don't you hear Jerusalem mourn?
Don't you hear Jerusalem mourn?
Hallelujah, don't you hear Jerusalem mourn?
O don't you hear Jerusalem mourn? (Repeat.)

Where did this blues song come from?

My mother has broke the ice and gone,
O Lord, how long;
And now she sings the morning song,
O Lord, how long.

They were both published in an African-American hymnal in 1882. Who knows how much older they are- maybe back to the Civil War.

To say that bluegrass doesn't come from English sources is wrong. To say that it only comes from English sources is wrong.

Richie


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Darowyn
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 03:05 AM

Josepp's list of Scott Joplin and James Scott does omit another great black musician who, in another (less racist) culture could have made a greater mark on 'classical' music, and that is Thomas (Fats) Waller.
He wrote both serious organ music and an opera (OK, a musical).
He still had to make his living playing rent parties and clowning, at which he was supreme.
I have remarked before that an African former student of mine, on finding me listening to Robert Johnson, and learning that it was an American artist, was surprised and said he would have said that he would have though it was someone from Mali. Of course, there is no way we can be sure that Malian musicians do not have a large collection of early blues records and have been influenced that way, but the fact remains that early blues has a familiar sound and feel to a non-hyphenated African musician.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 09:03 AM

My theory of what happened in the US North after WWI would be that the young people were able to buy records for themselves and early swing appealed to them as dance music, which was a socially acceptable and effective way to court! At least in Chicago, in the early '20's,the Austin High Gang was learning to play jazz as soon as they get instruments and were playing for dances at the Columbus Park pavilion as soon as they learned the songs!
The older folks stuck more with vaudeville, but the young folks were hip as soon as they could wind up the old Victrola.
Chris


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,Josepp
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 07:01 PM

///Dixieland jazz was based on the Marching Band tradition of Sousa and others which dates circa 1880.////

It was due more a combination of the horn and string band. Jazz could not have happened without it.

///Blues have been documented from that general time period. You could say that most white musicians from the Carter Family to The Carolina Tar Heels knew the blues and played it it in the 1920s. Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, played predominately blues.////

I'm not talking so much about white musicians as I am the general white public. They knew more about blues then than we can account for now with our spotty, jury-rigged, half-assed histories full of erroneous preconceptions and lethally tainted with political correctness.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,Josepp
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 07:05 PM

////To say that bluegrass doesn't come from English sources is wrong. To say that it only comes from English sources is wrong.///

Bluegrass is not descended from Celtic music. It bears no resemblance. It is descended from minstrel music. Many of Bill Munroe's sidemen were former minstrel men and so were the proto-bluegrassers like Uncle Dave Macon. Bluegrass is based on the African-American banjo tradition with some old-time mountain thrown in as well as ragtime, blues and jazz. But at its root is African-American banjo music filtered through blackface minstrelsy.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,Josepp
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 07:11 PM

////Josepp's list of Scott Joplin and James Scott does omit another great black musician who, in another (less racist) culture could have made a greater mark on 'classical' music, and that is Thomas (Fats) Waller.
He wrote both serious organ music and an opera (OK, a musical).////

Joplin wrote opera. Sissle & Blake wrote musicals. The first black musical I am aware of is called "Liza" from 1922 and written by Nat Vincent and Maceo Pinkard. And I would place any of these men closer to Bach or Mozart than I would place Louis. I don't know why Marsalis made the comparison when it really is a terrible mismatch. Louis's role in jazz was not the role Bach had in classical. It simply didn't follow.

////I have remarked before that an African former student of mine, on finding me listening to Robert Johnson, and learning that it was an American artist, was surprised and said he would have said that he would have though it was someone from Mali. Of course, there is no way we can be sure that Malian musicians do not have a large collection of early blues records and have been influenced that way, but the fact remains that early blues has a familiar sound and feel to a non-hyphenated African musician.////

If Mali musicians sing in English then his remark was more innocent than it might sound at first.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 07:34 PM

////My theory of what happened in the US North after WWI would be that the young people were able to buy records for themselves and early swing appealed to them as dance music, which was a socially acceptable and effective way to court! At least in Chicago, in the early '20's,the Austin High Gang was learning to play jazz as soon as they get instruments and were playing for dances at the Columbus Park pavilion as soon as they learned the songs!
The older folks stuck more with vaudeville, but the young folks were hip as soon as they could wind up the old Victrola.////

I'm not talking about when jazz showed up, although it showed up way before the Austin High Gang. I'm talking about how early the concept of swing was known to the general public. And it appears it was known far earlier than our histories are willing to admit. Not just the concept of swing but the very word itself. Not only that but the earliest artists to use it were white. That's not to say whites invented it but it shows how well known it was from a very early period by the public.

Another example is scat-singing. Who invented it? I've had people with degrees in music tell me authoritatively that it was Louis. It was not Louis. The earliest recorded example we have of scat-singing comes from a 1922 recording by a white singer named Cliff Edwards who was also known as Ukulele Ike. He was extremely popular in the 1920s. When his career waned in the late 30s, he did cartoon character voices. In 1940, he was cast by Disney to do the voice of Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio." Despite his extreme popularity in the 20s, most people today have never heard of Ukulele Ike or know that he recorded the original version of "Singin' In the Rain" (1929) but everybody knows his version of "When You Wish Upon a Star." But Cliff was scat-singing at a time when Louis's career was just getting started--and he wasn't singing at that point in his career.

To go back even earlier--1915 or 16--a white singer name Gene Greene did a ragtime song called "King of the Bungaloos" which consisted of him "cooking" his voice to sound very gruff as he mouths long strings of nonsense syllables. The resemblance to Louis's scat-singing is a bit startling. If Greene's song isn't scat, it is forerunner. But when are Greene or Edwards ever mentioned when it comes to the invention of scat-singing?

You see how PC thinking is skewing our knowledge of history?


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Darowyn
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 03:43 AM

Malian musicians, I am told, mostly sing in a local version of a Mandika language called Bambara, which would be comprehensible to my Senegalese student, since Mandinka is a common third language in Senegal, after Wolof and French.
It was the musical phrasing and vocal techniques of blues that sounded Malian, not the lyric.
I don't think it it PC thinking that is skewing history. Rather it's the fact that you are basing history on the existence of recorded music.
If recordings were made by a true random selection of the population, and if sound recording had a history two hundred years longer, it would be reasonable to base an analysis of musical history and trace influences that way.
But the USA has been a racially segregated society for a lot of it's history and access to recording has not been equal. It would have been far easier for a white performer to record an imitation of a black singer than for the original artist to get his performance on disk (or tape or Wire, or even in a notebook, since non-standard scales and swung timings were a closed book to most manuscript-based classically trained musicologists).
You may have heard the quote from Ahmet Ertegun that when he asked other record companies what royalties he should pay, he was told "We don't pay no royalties to n******!" (Check the story of Danny and the Juniors or Soloman Linda too)
University-trained music historians are famous for the short range of their hindsight. They told me that all music started in around 1300 AD!
All the evidence is circumstantial, either way, and the topic is a weapon in the political armoury of both left and right.
The point I would make, as a card-carrying Liberal, is that the cross fertilisation of African, Native American, and European musical influences has generated the music that I love, and will be playing tonight.
There'll be some good Rocking tonight! (and Reggae, Blues, Country and Cajun, maybe even some folk!)
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Helen
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 05:16 AM

I am saving this thread to read it properly. I love 40's music, and I usually refer to it as swing music, but having read your first posting above, Josepp, I now know that it isn't all swing.

I have a 3 CD set called The Best of Big Band Swing , and it has opened my ears to the less well-known types of music. I am particularly impressed with the examples of Jump music on the CD's, e.g. Artistry Jumps - Stan Kenton, Second Balcony Jump - Savoy Sultans, and I love the track called Loose Wig by Lionel Hampton.

My introduction to 40's music happened when I was young in the 60's (I am now 56, so born later than the heyday of 40's music) when my parents bought a second hand record player and a lot of 78 rpm records came with the player. I was suddenly thrown into a whole new world of music.

I listen to the 40's music at work, and also in the car. I never tire of hearing how complex it is.

Helen


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 08:43 AM

Louis never said said he invented scat singing. he just brought it to new heights. According to Jelly Roll Morton, a black entertainer from Mississippi by the name of Joe Sims was doing scatting in the the early 1900's and the musicians from New Orleans started cpoying it.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Chris in Portland
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 08:55 AM

I guess my definition of swing is jazz that you can dance to, and that it's growth in popularity, although not it's invention,was tied to the dances that were done by young whites and blacks from 1900 or so on. I would think that before WWI young whites would have primarily known about vaudeville music, but after WWI swing became the R&R of its time, as young whites had more ability to get out to hear music and buy records. Up until the '50's it was common for young people to drop in and out of high school to earn money for the family, but I'm sure some of that went for their entertainment too. Various dance crazes came and went during this period, as with line dancing in our era, but swing kept going too, until R&R lowered the bar.
Chris
ps - there are podcasts of Ian Whitcomb's internet shows that play a lot of pre-WWII music.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 10:45 AM

josepp

Despite your claims that swing in a jazz sense was widely known to the general public before jazz recordings became popular, I can't see any evidence that you've put forward for that claim.

There certainly were songs with swing in the title, but I've looked at all the sheets in Levy between 1850 and 1920 with it and none (and I include The Trolley Car Swing) seem to indicate swing in the jazz sense. They refer to (i) garden type swings, (ii) the swing-into-line or swing-me-round type from dancing and (iii) swing low sweet chariot and similar.

Regarding The Trolley Car Swing (the product of professional songwriters Joe Young and Bert Grant), it seems to be to the sort of song that could easily appear in a variety show (the cover shows the conductor and a female passenger dancing in the trolley) - it's up-tempo, dotted rhythm and to me the word swing is used purely in a dance meaning. It certainly bears no resemblance to the songs the female jazz or blues singers you mention would have sung.

I believe the word (in the jazz sense) would have become widely known quite quickly once jazz recording and radio broadcasts became popular, but as for the turn of the century I see no evidence yet. (I'm prepared to be persuaded, but you need to produce some decent contemporary accounts to demonstrate it).


Mick


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 12:15 PM

////But the USA has been a racially segregated society for a lot of it's history and access to recording has not been equal. It would have been far easier for a white performer to record an imitation of a black singer than for the original artist to get his performance on disk (or tape or Wire, or even in a notebook, since non-standard scales and swung timings were a closed book to most manuscript-based classically trained musicologists).
You may have heard the quote from Ahmet Ertegun that when he asked other record companies what royalties he should pay, he was told "We don't pay no royalties to n******!" (Check the story of Danny and the Juniors or Soloman Linda too)////

Undoubtedly whites had more access to recording facilities and undoubtedly some of these whites heard some black sng somewhere, recorded it and took credit for writing it. But, again, my point is, for that to have happened, the white public had to be far more open to it and knowledgeable of it than we are led to believe today by the "scholars" (read as "idiots with degrees").

As far as royalties go, the recording industry might have been the only place where a white artist could be screwed over as easily as a black artist. As far as I know, the first time a royalty was ever paid to an artist was when John Stark of Missouri offered one to Scott Joplin for "Maple Leaf Rag" in 1899. So it wasn't like all white publishers were all screwing black artists over. Likewise, Clarence Williams worked as an A&R man for OKeh Records and he was known to trick artists into signing up for shady deals. Fats Waller used to sell the same song to ten different publishers. One publisher said he usually bought whatever song Fats pedaled to him even though he knew Fats had just sold it to some other office down the hall.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,Josepp
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM

////I am saving this thread to read it properly. I love 40's music, and I usually refer to it as swing music, but having read your first posting above, Josepp, I now know that it isn't all swing.////

Yes, the term has been misapplied for decades.

///I have a 3 CD set called The Best of Big Band Swing , and it has opened my ears to the less well-known types of music. I am particularly impressed with the examples of Jump music on the CD's, e.g. Artistry Jumps - Stan Kenton, Second Balcony Jump - Savoy Sultans, and I love the track called Loose Wig by Lionel Hampton.

My introduction to 40's music happened when I was young in the 60's (I am now 56, so born later than the heyday of 40's music) when my parents bought a second hand record player and a lot of 78 rpm records came with the player. I was suddenly thrown into a whole new world of music.

I listen to the 40's music at work, and also in the car. I never tire of hearing how complex it is.////

Jump blues is a black-white amalgam if we accept that Louis Jordan's "Choo-Choo-Ch-Boogie" was the start of jump since it was written by white writers--Vaughan Horton and Milt Gabler, as I recall. But there's Roy Milton, Amos Milburn and Lionel, of course. Illinois Jacquet could get pretty jumpy. Big Joe and Pete Johnson were great and I love early B.B. I would include Peppermint Harris's "I Got Loaded" (released in '51 or '52 as I recall) in that bunch (I do that one at open mics and people always ask whose song that is). Johnny Ace did some great jump when he wasn't doing love ballads--"Don't You know" and "No Money" were as good as it gets. I wish he did more of that stuff but he had tapped into the white market and white kids loved those ballads.

You have to love "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and who was it that did "Last Call for Alcohol"? And Dave Bartholomew by himself without Fats did some excellent jump in the late 40s. I mean, I agree, that's fantastic stuff. One of the greatest periods of music. I listen a lot to 40s on 4 on XM although they don't play enough jump in my opinion but they play stuff no one else does. That was my mother's musical period and she she loves 40s on 4. I just wish like hell they'd stop pre-empting it every holiday season for holiday music--I HATE THAT!!!!


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 12:47 PM

////Louis never said said he invented scat singing./////

I never said Louis claimed any such thing.

///he just brought it to new heights. According to Jelly Roll Morton, a black entertainer from Mississippi by the name of Joe Sims was doing scatting in the the early 1900's and the musicians from New Orleans started cpoying it.///

That may be but Cliff Edwards MUST be included as a scat pioneer because he appears to have done the first recording of it and he was a great singer. It's inexcusable to leave him out and Gene Greene should at least get an honorable mention. I don't think anyone invented scatting, it was just an idea whose time had come and probably a great number of singers started doing it independently. Anytime you use your voice to imitate an instrument, you naturally resort to scat. When I had to give up playing harmonica (gives my lower lip a nasty blister), I started going musical interludes by voice and it was so close to scatting that I just out-and-out scat now.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 01:06 PM

////I guess my definition of swing is jazz that you can dance to, and that it's growth in popularity, although not it's invention,was tied to the dances that were done by young whites and blacks from 1900 or so on. I would think that before WWI young whites would have primarily known about vaudeville music, but after WWI swing became the R&R of its time, as young whites had more ability to get out to hear music and buy records. Up until the '50's it was common for young people to drop in and out of high school to earn money for the family, but I'm sure some of that went for their entertainment too. Various dance crazes came and went during this period, as with line dancing in our era, but swing kept going too, until R&R lowered the bar.
Chris
ps - there are podcasts of Ian Whitcomb's internet shows that play a lot of pre-WWII music.////

Thanks. I listen to Whitcomb a fair amount and I do enjoy his stuff. In fact, I base my version of "I Aint' Got Nobody" on his and Emmett Miller's for a nice different take. Whitcomb is more restrained vocally than Miller so it's an interesting balancing act. In fact, I got big applause for it last night performing on a uke.

Swing was definitely around before WW1 and before jazz. One guy who is horribly neglected in the histories of the evolution of swing is Al Jolson. Jolson is the ONLY singer in the 1910s whom I have actually heard swinging. He could swing so forcefully that he made the bands behind him start swinging to keep up even when it was apparent that the musicians had no real prior knowledge of experience of doing it. Jolson may be the single most important influence of the emergence of vocal jazz.

As far as bands go, Wilbur Sweatman was an early swing bandleader. I have stuff of his on digital as well as vinyl (on Columbia Graphophone, if I remember correctly) from the 10s and it was swinging in a fashion no other was until the Original Dixieland Jass Band started recording in 1917. Unfortunately, I don't think Jolson ever sang with Sweatman's band probaby due to segregation. that would have been amazing stuff, no doubt.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 01:38 PM

////Regarding The Trolley Car Swing (the product of professional songwriters Joe Young and Bert Grant), it seems to be to the sort of song that could easily appear in a variety show (the cover shows the conductor and a female passenger dancing in the trolley) - it's up-tempo, dotted rhythm and to me the word swing is used purely in a dance meaning. It certainly bears no resemblance to the songs the female jazz or blues singers you mention would have sung.////


You seem to be trying to have it both ways. "It's not swing as in jazz, it's swing as in dance." Oh, well, glad you cleared that up otherwise I'd thought there was a clear connection between the two concepts.

Trolley Car Swing represents a transition of ragtime to jazz that foreshadowed the emergence of female jazz singing--which is a form of jazz distinct from all others. The song is not ragtime although it has some raggy elements--that's only natural. But the way Elida Morris sings it (I can't say what the writers had in mind although I think it's something similar), it is one that's reaching out for that next phase but, of course, doesn't really know what that phase is. People of that era knew you have to swing it but there were certainly many versions and ideas of what that meant instead of the codified, rigid definition we have today--which is the antithesis of what swing meant--musical liberation which was also a sexual liberation because it was inherently beat related and when you let the beat take over and move your body, it's sexual in nature. And this was more important for women than men and hence the emergence of female vocal jazz. That's what led up to the 20s and why social mores changed so completely from long, Victorian hair and flowing dresses to bobs and flapper skirts, from swaying gently to classics to cutting loose with the Charleston, from staying at home and raising the kids to working and voting.

////There certainly were songs with swing in the title, but I've looked at all the sheets in Levy between 1850 and 1920 with it and none (and I include The Trolley Car Swing) seem to indicate swing in the jazz sense. They refer to (i) garden type swings, (ii) the swing-into-line or swing-me-round type from dancing and (iii) swing low sweet chariot and similar.////

Sheet music? You can look at sheet music and tell if it swings?? Can you tell me how you do that? I play jazz pieces all the time on double bass from sheet music and you just have to know how to swing it. That's part of the mystique of swing. Notes on paper is only an approximation.

Aside from that, every music has its own form of swing. You can be the greatest jazz drummer in the world and suck at playing polka. Then you get a polka drummer in there who can't play a 100th of what the jazz drummer can and yet he'll slaughter that guy in polka. Why? Because polka has its own swing and if you don't know it, you can't play it. I think the biggest mistake of the many made in classical music these days is the over-reliance on playing exactly what is on the sheet music with little room to interpret. I don't think the composers thought in that fashion at all. When he writes those funny Italian words at the beginning of a piece, it's an instruction on how to swing the piece but it's only an approximation, a suggestion. It's up to the player to decide.

////I believe the word (in the jazz sense) would have become widely known quite quickly once jazz recording and radio broadcasts became popular, but as for the turn of the century I see no evidence yet. (I'm prepared to be persuaded, but you need to produce some decent contemporary accounts to demonstrate it).////

It's not my job to convince you of anything. That's your job. It's my job to bring up the subject so that it is discussed. I'm long past the point where everybody has to accept what I say. I don't want nor expect them to. That would make the world a pretty dull one for me. But if I give them a new set of ears and they like what they hear, that's great. If they don't, they're free to keep their old ears.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 02:50 PM

josepp

I rarely try to have things both ways! You (possible deliberately) misunderstand my distinction between swing as in dance and swing as in jazz. I refer to swing in dance as the actual movement of swinging your partner around - the songs have phrases like swing your partner into line are used. You can do that to an old fashioned waltz or a four-square march without the music having to have a jazz swing.

You were the one claiming that swing in the titles of songs was an indication that the meaning (in the sense of swinging jazz) was widely understood. I merely point out that in the sheets at Levy - I looked at those from 1850 to 1920 - it is never used in the songs in that sense. I don't need to tell from the sheet music whether the music swings or not - that wasn't your claim. I can't see that you've produced any evidence for this assertion that swing was widely understood in the general population before jazz spread out from New Orleans or Chicago. (Your later statement that every music has its own form of swing just muddies the water; you can't start off talking about one definition of swing and change to another later. What you say is true - almost every musical style has its own conventions for playing it; the notes on paper are never the whole story, and that's true for classical music as much as any other).


Given the other songs Joe Young wrote I'm fairly sure that The Trolley Car Swing was written as just a simple novelty song (and the allegro marking does nothing to disagree with that). It does have a mildly sexually liberated lyric - Grab for a strap, fall in some woman's lap - (the cover shows the conductor and a lady dancing with what may be some abandon) and a decent (blues influenced I would say) melody. I haven't heard the recording (couldn't find one online when I looked earlier), so I don't know how Elida Morris performed it, and it's certainly true that a good singer can work wonders even with something that doesn't look promising on paper.


You may have a valid point to make, but it takes more than just saying it for it to be true. I could claim that Percy Grainger's 1906 recordings of the Lincolshire singer Joseph Taylor clearly show that Joseph Taylor swung and that therefore swing was created in the English East midlands; I might be hard-pressed to get anyone to believe it!


But, as you say, discussion is good and your thread seems to be making people do some thinking (and listening maybe). Keep it up!

Mick


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 03:02 PM

Scoot Joplin often left instructions in English on his sheet music not to play his piece too fast because, he said, ragtime should never be played fast. As much as I love Joplin's music, I've always disagreed with this. I think you should play ragtime as fast as you want to. I believe it was Arthur Marshall who said that when Joplin showed up at a club somewhere, the house pianist would often break into "Maple Leaf Rag" and playing it very fast and do all kinds of incredible things to the timing. He said Joplin took this kind of thing harder than he should have. He didn't like pieces being toyed with that way.

Joplin's pieces were greatly influenced by classical music and he wanted them to be stately, genteel and dignified. What I think Joplin wanted to avoid was swing. He didn't want his pieces to be swung too much. It has to swing a little or it sounds flat but I think it bothered to hear his stuff swung too widely (from what I understand, he disliked jazz). The thing is, it you play ragtime fast, you can't help but swing it. It naturally lends itself to swinging, the faster the tempo or it becomes a hoorible jumble of notes with no life. This would indicate Joplin was well aware of what swing was and wanted it kept to a minimum so it wouldn't sound like jazz.

If we go back to minstrelsy in the 1830s, we can find sheet music to "The Zip Coon Song" transcribed for piano. It sounds very stately and neo-classical. Clearly not the way it was perfromed in the venues. That's kind of the danger of relying too heavily on sheet music. You gotta swing it a bit.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: Helen
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 05:04 PM

josepp,

Regarding Joplin, I have a CD called Scott Joplin: Ragtime Piano Roll. It is a digitisation of the original piano rolls, which were played by Joplin and transcribed to the piano rolls. The sleeve notes state that Joplin was never recorded, so for me, this is like hearing Joplin himself play, and his own personal style of playing comes through. The pieces are not fast.

It is played on a piano, They are not (tinny, computerised-sounding) midi files, but the piano plays the digitised score created from scanning the piano rolls and converting them to midi files (or something like that). This CD combines two of my loves: ragtime and player pianos.

Thanks for the further information on jump music. I can see this addiction is going to get worse, now that I have more artists and songs to find! :-)

Helen


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 27 Dec 11 - 04:46 PM

I'm reviving this old thread because in my discussions with other musicians of what constitutes swing, there is no consensus. I also have to revise some of my own statements. I had said that what characterizes jazz is swing but this isn't always true. I've been listening to a lot of Ornette, Mingus, Coltrane and stuff like that and much of this stuff does not swing at all and yet it is still undoubtedly jazz. If we refuse to call it jazz then what do we call it?

The more interviews I read with Wynton Marsalis, the more I find myself in disagreement with his whole approach to jazz. He has an emphasis on tradition that seems to me to be dooming any new innovation in jazz because he is the jazz ambassador. On the one hand, I understand and agree that kids today should learn about the great past jazz masters. They should be familiar with early Louis, Duke, Basie, Jelly Roll and people like that. I agree with that. But it seems to me that Marsalis takes them back to that period and drops them off there--as though nothing that has happened in jazz since the 30s means anything.

He also puts great emphasis on black musicians (and while I wouldn't call Jelly Roll black, I wouldn't call him white either). He seems to be doing this at the expense of great white jazz masters. He schools young pianists in Duke, for example, but not Bill Evans. Why not? I would say Evans is more relevant because he picked up at a later point when Duke's style, as great as it was, had become dated, had become "classic" jazz. Evans's style was inevitable because we can't keep producing new Dukes year after year--except it seems to me to be exactly what Marsalis is doing. Wasn't the original Duke enough? Would Duke want to see himself carbon-copy cloned a millions times over a century or two after his death? I'm going to go out on a limb and say no.

And it all seems to go back this notion that Marsalis has of what constitutes "swing." He does not appear to have considered bop to have swing and his faith in jazz seems to end at that point. In the Marsalis jazz universe, jazz stopped at the advent of bop.

So I realize that I also have revise my idea of what swing is because I was contradicting myself. I can't maintain that the prime characteristic of jazz is swing and yet consider something like Ornette's "European Echoes" to be jazz when entire sections of it lack any swing element as I was defining swing.

I was listening to something on the XM jazz station (channel 67) on my way to work one morning last week. May have been McCoy Tyner, maybe Dexter Gordon--forgot who it was--but it had a sax, piano, maybe a vibe and drums kind of weaving in and out of each other's lines. What caught my attention was that the bass wasn't walking as one might expect in such music. It played the same simple riff over and over, keeping rigid time. The thing was, it was 3/4 time. That's unusual enough but the 3/4 time was not waltz time--ONE two three ONE two three--it was absolutely unnaccented 3/4 time. I realized it because the bass line was so odd in its repetition that I began counting trying to figure out what it was and it was 3/4 time but I knew that only because nothing else fit--but it didn't sound like 3/4 time. I realized without the bass, I would have had no idea what time this piece was in. Yet swing is time-oriented and that time is virtually always 4/4. This piece had no swing at all but it was definitely jazz because it could not have been anything else.

So I find myself unable to really define swing or even jazz for that matter.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 28 Dec 11 - 04:26 AM

Hi
How nice to have a thread thats full of content instead of silly remarks that some people decend to.
I'm hoping you dont mind me going off the point a bit. I'd like to learn a few swing tunes on the fiddle, to play as solos or at sessions - so easy and well known is good. I'm looking for a few suggestions. Any ideas please.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 28 Dec 11 - 04:35 AM

Without any particular basis for it, perhaps some consideration should be given to the way in which different venues contributed to the evolution of the several different styles(?), and perhaps the venues shaped the music.

The general notion is that the earliest blues probably started with solo performers, (most often guitar with solo vocal?). As the style developed, additional members were added to create small combos, but groups were mostly small as appropriate for little halls.

The similar "lore" is that ragtime originated mainly from the more or less solo piano player. The somewhat more complex structure of the music perhaps required a more rapid jump to somewhat larger combos to move the music to larger halls(?), but it never was commonly played in large auditoriums so far as I've heard. (Although "marching band" spinoffs did appear?)

The primary "swing band" style possibly was deliberately developed for large venues with lots of dancers. The music aside, in the absence of amplification you wanted a fairly large band just to produce enough volume to be heard in a large ballroom. Most of the well known swing bands played from written notation (with breaks for extemporaneous solos(?) written in), and most of the big band tunes were "composed music," more routinely than in the other styles mentioned. Using large "orchestras" almost mandated written scores to keep "most of the players" on the same tune (most of the time).

Jazz, in it's beginnings, probably originated around the same time(s) as Swing, but more likely in smaller (but not solo) groups. It was more common for the "jazz purists" to ignore written scores (because they were hard to get?), if any existed, and play extensively "in free form."

"Purists" through at least the early 50s could become violent over suggestions that "swing" and "jazz" were the same thing, or even that they overlapped even a little bit. Some, at the time, might have said that "progressive jazz" with its odd meters (5/4 or 7/9 time) and polytones (out of tune notes?) was deliberate, in order to maintian the separation.

Just suggestions for consideration - with no documented historical backing that I know of.

In all of this, it should be remembered that written music for the most popular songs could be very hard to get through most of the times when these styles were developing, since the DRM of the eras consisted of prohibiting publication of the profitable tunes. Although now more available, I tried for over 20 years to get any Hoagy Carmichael tunes in written form with zero success prior to around 1965 or so. The only way his widder would turn loose of one apparently was by direct payment to her, for a license for a specific number of performances (especially for Stardust. although he did write some other nice ones).

John


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Subject: RE: The hidden history of swing
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 28 Dec 11 - 05:56 PM

////Without any particular basis for it, perhaps some consideration should be given to the way in which different venues contributed to the evolution of the several different styles(?), and perhaps the venues shaped the music.////

Good point. In the days before electrical amplification, I would think this was especially true. Country blues was shaped by the juke joints. You had to stomp your foot and bellow loud enough to be heard but not sound like you were just shouting. And the steel box guitars were used for more amplification and it ended up being the definitive sound of country blues.

So imagine this is true of all styles of music.

/////The similar "lore" is that ragtime originated mainly from the more or less solo piano player. The somewhat more complex structure of the music perhaps required a more rapid jump to somewhat larger combos to move the music to larger halls(?), but it never was commonly played in large auditoriums so far as I've heard. (Although "marching band" spinoffs did appear?)/////

Ragtime originated on the banjo. It melded with the jig piano style of the 1880s. Marching bands started playing it but how early is not known. They may have preceded piano because the piano appropriated the march band timing on the left hand--a straight ONE two ONE two beat--while the right hand played the syncopated melody. But it didn't necessarily have to be that way, I suppose.

////The primary "swing band" style possibly was deliberately developed for large venues with lots of dancers. The music aside, in the absence of amplification you wanted a fairly large band just to produce enough volume to be heard in a large ballroom. Most of the well known swing bands played from written notation (with breaks for extemporaneous solos(?) written in), and most of the big band tunes were "composed music," more routinely than in the other styles mentioned. Using large "orchestras" almost mandated written scores to keep "most of the players" on the same tune (most of the time).////

I would agree with this. You also have to have an arrangement book laying out who was to play what and when. The songs were the same from band to band so they trademarked their sound via the arrangement and worked very hard on them. A band was lost without its arrangement book and jealously guarded them from rival bands. One member usually did the arrangements and wrote them down. This person's job was to guard the arrangement book. When Mary Lou Williams played in Andy Kirk's band, she wrote the arrangements and had to guard the book.

/////Jazz, in it's beginnings, probably originated around the same time(s) as Swing, but more likely in smaller (but not solo) groups. It was more common for the "jazz purists" to ignore written scores (because they were hard to get?), if any existed, and play extensively "in free form." "Purists" through at least the early 50s could become violent over suggestions that "swing" and "jazz" were the same thing, or even that they overlapped even a little bit. Some, at the time, might have said that "progressive jazz" with its odd meters (5/4 or 7/9 time) and polytones (out of tune notes?) was deliberate, in order to maintian the separation.////

I've read that jazz came in three forms by the 20s: sweet, corn and swing. Sweet jazz was society dance band fare with a bit of syncopation but not too much. Paul Whiteman's band was a sweet jazz band. Corn was popular among the collegiate set and it swung a bit looser than sweet but was a subset of sweet. Then came swing although the definition is even more nebulous. I guess the Hot Five was an example of swing. Maybe Jelly Roll's 1926 recordings on Victor.

But, see, that's what I'm saying--you can't get any consensus on what constitutes swing. The only thing I can for sure about swing is that it is an intuitive feeling. It doesn't show up in musical notation.


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