6 November 2015


If you want to know what the authentic New Orleans bands sounded like in the 1920s, it's easy to study some fine examples. We must be grateful to the original sound recordists and to all who have perpetuated their work by means of various technologies over the decades and - more recently - those who have put the music on to YouTube.

I'm thinking at the moment of three bands in particular. Their total recorded output is not huge; but there is plenty from which we can learn, with careful study.

Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight recorded only four tunes. The pieces themselves don't get much attention these days, but the recordings are a lesson to all traditional jazz musicians in how their instrument should contribute to an effective ensemble. These repay close scrutiny. For an example,
Next, think of Armand Piron (violinist) and his classy orchestra. They gave us lovely performances of such numbers as these (mostly composed by the band members):
Bouncing Around
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
Mamma's Gone, Goodbye
Kiss Me Sweet
Bright Star Blues
Louisiana Swing
Red Man Blues
Sud Bustin' Blues
For an example of a typical well-arranged piece (with great ensemble work) that many of us still try to emulate,

Then there's the eight-piece Sam Morgan's Band (with big Jim Robinson on trombone). It recorded just eight tunes in 1927. They included Bogalusa Strut, Mobile Stomp and Short Dress Girl (all composed by Morgan) as well as three spirituals, notably Over in the Gloryland, which is still very popular. These recordings powerfully influenced the repertoire and drive of many of today's bands. For a stomping performance that gives you the full flavour of this band,