The conventional view is that jazz is an American art form that originated in African-American communities of New Orleans. It was a derivative of blues and ragtime. Over time it split into many branches. When one thinks of the original New Orleans version, names like King Oliver (1881-1938), Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1940), and Louis Armstrong among others come to mind.
Armstrong got his start playing with Oliver’s band. When the latter moved to Chicago, Louis joined him. The recording of Dippermouth Blues was made in 1923. Oliver, who wrote the piece, was the first cornet – Armstrong was the second.
Morton’s boast that he had invented jazz is an exaggeration, but he certainly made a major contribution to it. His piano playing concentrated on style rather than virtuosity. If any New Orleans musician could claim to have originated Jazz it would be Buddy Bolden (1877-1931). Alas, there are no surviving recordings by him. He suffered a psychotic break in 1907 and spent the remainder of his life in a mental institution.
Back to Morton. He began as a piano player in a New Orleans brothel. He started to tour and was one of the first, if not the first, jazz musician to put his compositions on paper. He lived in Chicago for a few years. Went to California, played in Canada, and New York, before settling in Washington, DC where he was piano player, manager, and bouncer at a bar that operated under a variety of names. He was stabbed in the bar and received delayed treatment after he was refused care at a white only hospital. He never fully regained his strength and died in 1941. The Crave was one of his most requested numbers.
Of course, the most famous New Orleans jazz musician was Louis Armstrong who in addition to playing the trumpet, was a singer, a movie star, and a national treasure whose mere appearance could induce happiness in the terminally morose.
The Hot Five was the first band that Armstrong recorded with under his own name. The 12 numbers presented here where issued as an LP when the technique was new, more than 70 years ago. The titles and times are below.
00:00 Muskrat Ramble
02:40 Heebie Jeebies
05:40 Gut Bucket Blues
11:37 Yes!I’m In The Barrel
14:20 Cornet Chop Suey
17:27 Struttin’ With Some Barbecue
20:27 I’m Not Rough
23:25 The Last Time
26:51 Got No Blues
30:11 Hotter Than Hot
33:09 Ory’s Creole Trombone
I don’t know a lot about jazz, other than I like to listen to its New Orleans version. But I do know who invented it. It was Beethoven, in the second and final movement of his 32nd and last piano sonata (op 111). It’s in C major and consists of five variations and a coda on a 16 measure theme in 9/16 time. Beethoven was in his “late period” during which he seems to have moved from Vienna to outer space. The third variation is the one in which he invents jazz. Here’s the key part. Decide for yourself.