The Mississippi Swamp Dogs Jazz Band

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New Orleans Jazz Band History

July 24, 2015

New Orleans Jazz Band History

<strong>New Orleans Jazz Band History. Mardi Gras New Orleans 2015. </strong>

New Orleans Jazz Band History. Mardi Gras New Orleans 2015.

The history of 20th Century New Orleans and the history of the jazz band is totally and utterly linked. In fact, the first hints of how jazz was to develop, were there towards the end of the 19th Century when bands were hired to play for public dances and entertain the guests of brothels and houses of ill repute. At this time there would be bands to play polkas, waltz’s and the like. there were Brass Bands playing around New Orleans for parades too. The New Orleans Jazz Funeral was much in evidence as well. Wedding jazz bands were very popular. So there was plenty of live music to cover all manner of social situations from weddings, dances, funerals, celebrations and partying.

New Orleans Jazz Band History

Ragtime was popular in the 1890’s and this too was thrown in to the musical mix. One should then consider the wonderful mix of racial influences on the Port of New Orleans. Spanish people, French, English and Scottish people mixed together. They were business men, traders and ship workers. As a big port, New Orleans was a magnet for people from all over the world, bringing their musical influences with them. Two factors that had a great impact on New Orleans Jazz and the band culture were the folk songs of Scotland and Ireland and the West African Slave trade. The tunes came from the folk music and the rhythms from the African drums. The rest, as they say, is history.

 New Orleans Jazz Band History

<strong>New Orleans Jazz Band History Buddy Bolden and Band</strong>

New Orleans Jazz Band History Buddy Bolden and Band

The legendary figure of trumpeter Buddy Bolden (Charles “Buddy” Bolden, 1877-1931) was spoken about from the early of the twentieth century. In fact Bunk Johnson, a trumpet player himself, actually remembered Bolden and supposedly played with him. It is interesting to see a picture from the time that shows a band that looks just like a New Orleans Jazz Band. Musically the band would have played “Raggy” versions of Folk Songs and current popular songs from the day. History repeats itself. All the way through the history of jazz band music, especially in New Orleans, bands have borrowed from popular tunes, hymns and folk songs.

New Orleans Jazz Band History

<strong>New Orleans Jazz Band History. Storyville</strong>

New Orleans Jazz Band History. Storyville

The African influence on New Orleans Music and the jazz band cannot be stressed too strongly. The quality of repetition, of call and answer, the three/two clave and the Charleston rhythm (as it was called later) all came from Africa and was and is, an enormous part of the rhythmic history of jazz in New Orleans. Imagine then, the French Quarter. Sometimes known as Storyville or just the “Quarter” where people went for sex, drinking and general carousing. What would be the perfect addition to such debauched behaviour? Raggy Jazz music! Every bordello had a jazz band playing for the clients. This wasn’t the only place the bands played though. Lots of more decent socialising happened on the Steamboats of the Mississippi and we have mentioned wedding jazz bands above. This was one of the ways the jazz band music of New Orleans began to travel to other States and how other parts of America started to enjoy and appreciate the music.


When Storyville was closed down in 1917, (see this fascinating article and photographs here) the musicians and jazz bands of New Orleans moved North to Chicago and New York to sell their wares. History shows that the other parts of America caught on quickly. Before long New Orleans Jazz adapted and changed many more influences came into play. Soon bands all over America were playing their version of jazz.



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