3868Traditional Jazz was Bill Russell
- Feb 20, 2007Robert
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
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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