Blake and "Jelly Roll" Morton had several things
in common. Each
got their start playing the piano
in sporting houses, Eubie in Baltimore and "Jelly Roll"
Morton at Storyville in New Orleans, but both were around
for the beginning of jazz. We all tend to believe jazz started
New Orleans, but that is not totally true. In America it did
start there, but it began long before in far away places.
Just as it was for people, New Orleans was a melting pot for
jazz. Eubie began his career in the pre-jazz era of ragtime
music and Eubie could really play Joplin's music. He also
composed some of his own.
fundamental earthy rhythms of early jazz had come from Africa
with the slaves. When they danced
to their own music in Congo Square, the sound was contagious,
and in some strange fashion, it always had a certain association
with voodoo. Some of the dance rituals of voodoo were incorporated
into jazz also. A little of that influence still lingers today.
Probably at least half jazz musicians still keep a few talismans
or voodoo charms around.
Roll" Morton recreated the rhythms of ragtime and was
an innovator, in the he blended ragtime and rhythms and added
new instruments which also blended into jazz. Morton and his band, the Red Hot Peppers, made early jazz
recordings in Chicago. Before returning to New Orleans, Morton
performed in Washington D.C., New York, and Harlem. The introduction
of brass instruments added a new dimension to Jazz and became
the source of several local stories.
how, you might ask, did jazz get its name? Apparently F. Scott
Fitzgerald used "Jazz" in reference to the 1920's. In his mind, "Jazz" described the fast moving life
en vogue during that historic era, therefore, he called it
The Jazz Age. Fitzgerald did not know jazz was a word used
in Congo Square that had a sexual connotation.
Well, all in
all it was pretty sexy music. Ragtime became extremely fashionable.
Nevertheless, the name Jazz stuck but some bands spelled it
jass. The Original Dixieland Jass band was white; however,
they modeled the Dixieland sound after New Orleans black jazz
bands and took it to New York, where it was first recorded.
The predominant sound came from brothels in Storyville, the
red-light district where jazzmen created it.