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3868Traditional Jazz was Bill Russell

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  • David Brown
    Feb 20, 2007

      A privilege to read your definitive researches. Many thanks and I look
      forward to further enlightenment.

      While it is possible to well understand a critic of Harrison's generation
      dismissing en masse 'traditional' jazz, and while his reading of its origins
      is accurate, it is simplistic to view the various diverse 'revivals' as
      one. The initial revival was definitely West Coast /Watters. I have this
      dated to 1938/9. The musicians were mainly ex-dance band professionals and
      so I suggest a degree of deliberate 'posing' was necessary. The revival in
      UK dates from about 1942 and its instigators were defiantly amateur. Chilton
      in his book 'Jazz' --quoted recently on the Forum and much recommended as
      primer -- sees the revival as simultaneous in California, England &
      Australia. I think all European Continental revivalism was necessarily a
      post-war phenomena, the earliest supposed Euro revival band, the Dutch Swing
      College, was indeed formed earlier but, as the name implies, was not then a
      revivalist band.

      The movement was indeed record driven, especially the 1939 issues from
      Morton, Bechet and Spanier. However, the model taken in all three countries
      were the 'classic' sides of Oliver C.B. including the unnecessary two
      trumpet frontline. Also, all three imposed upon the music the inauthentic
      brass bass, which never was a N.O. instrument. Why ? I am always wary of
      coincidental theories of art history and this spontaneous simultaneity seems
      unlikely. Watters got there first and although did not record till 1941 must
      be seen as prime mover for all 'Traditional' jazz. Ory, long in retirement
      on the W.Coast, did not reform a band till 1942.

      Paradoxically, the records of actual N.O. starting from 1942 undermined the
      'classic' revival. This was a different music to emulate. Thus we had the
      'second 'or 'N.O. revival' of Ken Colyer which used contemporary N.O. music
      as model. To me, this movement had far more value as its models were alive.
      It was this wing of revivalism from which grew the mass popular movement
      'Trad' which swept Europe at the end of the 50s into the 60s.

      ' Arid stylised conventions ' eventually indeed but 'trad' was the only
      revivalist movement to actually use contemporary Pop and other non-received
      material --classical, and folk themes. Maybe this can in some way account
      for its crazy popularity ?

      ' If we had a new popular number worked up real good, this made for more
      jobs. They would hire the band that had the new stuff '-- Johnny St
      yr --Jazz Journal Sept 1966 of pre-1920 N.O.

      Is this enough to account for the movement which although maybe started by
      'malcontent record collectors' was picked up by a whole generation of
      post-war European youth as a kind of displaced folk music ? It carried also
      political and social ideologies. It is still there --worldwide must be
      thousands of bands essaying all colours of traditional jazz.


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