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8010Introduction and question

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  • Ken Gates
    Mar 26, 2010
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      My first post. My first encounter with jazz was as a listener. Big band swing was
      the fashion---lots of it on the radio in the 40's when I was young---I lived in LA then
      and would travel on streetcars and buses to the Orpheum theater to hear the big
      name bands as they alternated with a B movie. I discovered Bunk Johnson and George
      Lewis by 1946 and became a dedicated mouldy figge for several years. Later I became
      less restricted and now am a fan of just about any version of pre-bop jazz. I've tried to
      "dig" the "modern" forms but so far it hasn't rung my chimes. At age 70 I took up the
      clarinet and I play just well enough to sit in on jam sessions at a level where I can make
      a contribution without causing embarrassment.

      So much for that for now. I'm trying to track down when and where "Sweet Fields" was
      introduced into the trad jazz songlist. I assume it is a hymn. It shows up on an Eagle Brass
      Band recording I have of about 197x (I think). I've heard current bands such as Grand
      Dominion and New Black Eagle JB do it at festivals. A search of hymns on the internet
      shows one composed by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) that possibly is it. The lyrics seem
      to fit melody I've heard---but that seems like a long shot. My questions are--

      ...Is it a song from the church?
      ...Was it played by the very early brass bands of New Orleans?
      ...Who made the first jazz recording of it--and when?

      Thanks in advance for any information---

      Ken Gates Ventura, California

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