Friday, December 26, 2014

The End of An Era - The Sherborn Inn Shuts It's Doors To Trad Jazz

Sherborn Inn
On December 23, 2014 the last of Jazz at the Sherborn Inn in Sherborn, Massachusetts was celebrated with a free Jazz jamboree. The Sherborn Inn had been the home of many jazz bands in the area over a period of nineteen years.

 Craig Ball on clarinet!

The last performance at the Inn was made up of a mixture of musicians who had been playing at the Sherborn Inn with various bands over the years. Some of the performers included were Craig Ball, Frank Batchelor, John Clark, Dan Gabel, Gerry Gagnon, John Kafalas, Bob MacInnis, Dave MacMillan, Richard Malcolm, Mollie Malone, Stan McDonaldRoss Petot, Jeff Stout, and Steve Taddeo.

John Clark on clarinet!

Funnyman and jazz super fan Myron Idelson and jazz reporter Marcelle Enright  were awarded mementos for their loyalty to the Massachusetts jazz scene.

All in all, it was a rather melancholy affair. The place was packed, but because of this, the announcements and speeches of the various band leaders was drowned out by a drone of people not interested in hearing their words.

I myself, was prevented from taking any pictures near the end of the concert because two rude dancers, even though I was there in front of the band first with my camera raised, pushed past me two do their bizarre meanderings right in front of me as I was about to take a picture. 

Even though some great New England talent played, the large crowd and some rude people put a dampener on the evening.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday Jazz Performance - "Everybody Loves My Baby" - Shirazz

This week we're focusing in on some Traditional Jazz from down under in the form of Shirazz a six piece Dixieland Band from Melbourne, Australia.

Here we see and hear Shirazz playing Everybody Loves My Baby in their own special way!

Everybody Loves My Baby was written by Spencer Williams and Jack Palmer and was published in 1924. That year it immediately began it's long career as a recorded song being recorded by the likes of Aileen Stanley and the International Novelty Orchestra (9-19-24), Louis Armstrong with Clarence Williams' Blue Five (11-6-24) as well as Fletcher Henderson (11-24-24) and many others.

Shirazz at the Grampians Jazz Festival 2014

Here we have Aileen Stanley singing the tune with the International Novelty Orchestra.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Tribute to the Original Crane River Jazz Band by the Ken Colyer Trust Jazz Band CD Review by George A. Borgman

The Ken Colyer Trust New Orleans Jazz Band performs on this recording in tribute to the Original Crane River Jazz Band which attempted to emulate the black New Orleans jazz sound. The band pays tribute to the Cranes and does not attempt to copy them, according to Big Bill Bissonnette's album notes.
This CD features great ensemble playing from the front line and interesting contrapuntal support for the solos and melodic leads. Hugh Crozier takes excellent piano solos and the rhythm section is very solid with Malcolm Hurrell playing fine rhythmic banjo, Terry Knight plucking very well the bass strings, and drummer Male Murphy does everything correctly, using all the accouterments of his drum set.

The tunes have been well selected. "Down in Jungle Town," the opener, from 1908, immediately presents the listener with various elements of the New Orleans sound with trombonist Dave Vickers doing his stuff from the beginning backed by the steady rhythm section.
In 1923, reedman Art Kassel (leader of Chicago "sweet" dance and stage bands) and drummer Vie Berton (manager of Bix Beiderbecke's Wolverines, beginning in 1924) wrote "Sobbin' Blues." Since then there were numerous recordings of it by such bands as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (Okeh label), the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (Gennett), Ted Lewis' (Columbia), Lew Brown's (Bluebird), Bunny Berigan's (Victor), and Artie Shaw and His Strings (Brunswick). On this rendition of "Sobbin' Blues," clarinetist Norman Field plays very good counterpoint behind the melodic line.
"Wolverine Blues" (1923) was written by Jelly Roll Morton along with, according to some sources, the brothers Benjamin F. and John C. Spikes. It was recorded by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (Gennett 5102, 1923); by Morton, on solo piano (Gennett 5289, 1923-24) and by his Red Hot Peppers (Victor 21064, June 10, 1927); and by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra (Victor, 25863). Here, in a rendition that is more than seven minutes long, there is great stride piano during several choruses followed by some lively playing by the clarinet, Norman Thatcher's and Sonny Morris' trumpets and the trombone in wonderful togetherness.

In 1939, Morton copyrighted his "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say," also known as "Buddy Bolden Blues," and here it is performed wonderfully with a fine piano solo and some nice duet choruses from the trumpets. Another excellent trumpet duet is heard on "Pretty Baby," a Tin Pan Alley tune that was introduced to the public in 1915 through A World of Pleasure, a Broadway musical, and it was interpolated by Dolly Hackett in The Passing Show of 1916, also a stage musical. Subsequently, "Pretty Baby" was featured in a dozen motion pictures. And the group does very well on "Wabash Blues" which features a wonderful piano solo.
On this compact disc, the superb musical sounds, influenced by the Original Crane River Jazz Band, are those associated with old New Orleans. This CD is one of Jazz Crusade's better releases in recent years.   - George A. Borgman, IAJRC Journal

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tap Dancing Legend Bunny Briggs Dead at 92

Tap dancer extraordinaire Bunny Briggs died at the age of 92 in Las Vegas on November 15, 2014. 

"Bunny" Briggs was born Bernard in Harlem on February 26, 1922 on Lenox Avenue. His mother was Alma Briggs who in 1920 was living with her mother Abrialla and her brothers and sister. Briggs got his nickname "Bunny" from his grandmother. Every time she would come home from work he'd quickly scoot out of the room and get her slippers for her. 

Bill Robinson
Show business was in his family. His Aunt Gladys was a chorus girl who in 1925 was performing at the Lincoln Theatre. Brigg's mother took him to see her perform around this time. Upon seeing tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, dance at the same theater he told his mother he wanted to be a dancer. "He started dancing and I just sat there in awe. At that time, I knew, what I was going to do." After this incident it was basically cast in stone that he was going to be a dancer.

After learning tap dancing from the streets of Harlem, by 1927 he was dancing with a children's group called Porkchops, Navy, Rice, and Beans. They would perform to tunes like Bugle Call Blues at ballrooms across New York City. 

Bunny Briggs tells the story best himself. "I started performing tap in the street. The record store used to put the "Amos n' Andy" show on the loudspeaker so people in the street could stop and listen to it. The owners would say, 'Bunny, as soon as 'Amos n' Andy' goes off, we'll put a record on and you start dancing.' And that's what I did. People would throw money at me and I'd take it home to my mother, which I was very happy to do. I was around 5 or 6." 

Luckey Roberts
He was quickly "discovered" by jazz pianist Luckey Roberts. Again Briggs tells how it was, "Next thing I knew, Luckey Roberts was in my house talking to my mother, and I was working with his orchestra, Luckey Roberts and his Society Entertainers. We went into houses of the blue bloods: the Astors, the Wanamakers, the Fords, the DuPonts. It was excellent. All I could smell was gardenias and champagne. They bought me toys, they sent my mother all kinds of gifts-the apartment filled up."
In August 1931 he was accompanying Roberts and his sextet on a weekend cruise of the, "French line steamship Paris, to Bermuda."
He was only seven years old when he appeared with Luckey Roberts at the Cocoanut Grove in Palm Beach, Florida where the local newspaper reported, "In addition to the regular cakewalk which never fails of high entertainment... there will be special features. "Lucky" Roberts... song composer from New York and Bunny Briggs a seven-year-old whose song-and-dance numbers created such unusual interest last Wednesday night will be included."

When he was around ten years old he took part in his first stage show at the Harlem Opera House with Cab Calloway, but things didn't go so well, "I had stage fright. The music played but I just froze. I didn't care." However, Briggs appeared, billed just as "Bunny," in the 1932 Steppin Fetchit film Slow Poke

Being a professional dancer as a child and dancing at one engagement after another could cause problems. New York's Gerry Society whose official name was the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children forced Briggs to stop all his engagements and attend school.

His mother Alma must have been happy that he was no longer performing because she was never thrilled with her son being an entertainer. Charlie Barnet wrote that his, "mother didn't like show business and once told me that she would rather see her son running an elevator than doing what he was." Barnet also suggested that Briggs' mother had influence over him and stated that, "he had a strong mother-complex which I think eventually kept him from being a big star."

It was about 1940 when Bunny Briggs seems to have begun dancing again professionally. From this time on he would be dancing with some of the biggest Big Bands in the business; Count Basie, Earl Hines, Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet and Duke Ellington.

Since he would improvise when he danced and wasn't working from a set routine, he could move from one band to another and easily adapt to their varying styles.

"I was always an improvisation dancer. I never danced to the same tune more than two or three times. My style is carefree. It’s carefree and hard, but I try to make it look easy.” He created a paddle-and-roll style of tapping, but he never bothered naming or labeling any of his specific steps and moves.

Briggs was performing in a Baltimore at a club in 1940 where he would dance on a table for part of his routine, when Charlie Barnet who was performing at the Royal Theatre, stopped by and saw him dance for the first time.

In his autobiography, Those Swinging Years, Barnet said he thought Briggs was, "one of the most talented performers I have ever seen. He was quite young... he really had it all. He was a sensational dancer, had a distinctive singing style and a great personality... He made several records with us and one in particular, East Side, West Side, was a big hit. It didn't matter whether we were at the Apollo or the Paramount, before a black or a white audience, Bunny broke up every show and was always a smash hit."
In early 1942 he worked a long stint at Small's Paradise a night club in Harlem. He would then sign up with Crane Management, run by Louise Crane, in June.

On August 13, 1942 Briggs began an eleven week run at New York's Kelly's Stable. On November 2nd he started at Club 666 in Detroit which was his second night club appearance outside of New York at that time.

During the 40s Briggs was being billed as the Prince Charming of Taps touring with several bands.

From November 10, 1945 until the closing show on June 29, 1946 he played Cicero in the Broadway musical comedy Are You With It?
Briggs was appearing with the Charlie Barnet and His Famous Orchestra in 1947 and in late 1948 he was touring with Boyd Raeburn and His Orchestra.
Oct. 1948 with Erskine Hawkins Band.
By the end of the 1940s Briggs began his numerous television appearances. On the December 12, 1948 he was on the Ed Sullivan Show making an appearance.
In the first half of 1949 Fox shot a Movietone short of the Charlie Barnet Orchestra with Bunny Briggs playing the Western Union delivery man. He did another stint on the Ed Sullivan show on October 30, 1949.

Briggs was featured dancing in the May 1950 Universal short film King Cole Trio & Benny Carter Orchestra. He was also featured on the television show Cavalcade of Bands at least once in the 50s.

On May 27, 1951 he made another appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and a few years later on March 12, 1955 he was the guest dancer on the Jackie Gleason Show.

In early September 1956 Briggs appeared for a week with the Lloyd Price big band in Washington, D. C. With the help of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker Briggs developed a style of tap dancing that worked well with bebop. At the 1960 Monterey Jazz Festival, Briggs danced with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Soon he was being eluded to as, "Duke's dancer," because he worked with him so often.
1962 Newport Jazz Festival. Bunny on right.
By 1962 when he appeared with several other tap dancers at the Newport Jazz Festival the newspapers were billing tap as a "dying art." Around the same time he was a guest on the Tonight Show that August.

Duke Ellington asked Briggs to be the solo dancer for his David Danced Before the Lord number that had been featured in the 1961 film Paris Blues. It was to be part of Ellington's Concert of Sacred Music and would be performed in a church.

Briggs who had earlier in his life contemplated being a Catholic priest was a very religious man and hesitated to accept Ellington's offer in the fear that tap dancing in a church could prove sacrilegious. "When I first heard the song, I thought it was pretty, but I didn't want to dance to it in the church. Because in the church you can't go for laughs, you can't go for applause." But after praying for guidance he decided to do it. "I prayed to God. I asked God to give me the routine." Later, he wasn't even aware of what he actually danced. "A haze came over me, and I wasn't drunk. I was together."
The performance premiered at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on September 16, 1965. This concert was filmed and has been highly praised.

Briggs continued dancing to the piece over the next several years with Ellington's Orchestra. He performed it on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966 and later that year at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church for the New York premiere the day after Christmas. Again he performed it on December 2, 1967 at Constitution Hall in Washington, D. C. and once more at the  Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on January 19, 1968. Later other tap dancers would perform to this number including Baby Laurence, Buster Brown and Rich Rahn.

In the 1970s he continued touring and made more appearances on the Tonight Show, Apollo Uptown and Monk's Time as well as performing on cruise ships. Saxophonist Houston Person invited Briggs to dance on his recording of the Jerry Jeff Walker tune Mr. Bojangles for his album Broken Windows, Empty Hallways in 1972. 
Starting with the 1979 documentary No Maps on My Taps, Bunny Briggs' television appearances picked up and he had a career Renaissance. Tap dancing made a reasurgence in the 80s. Bunny Briggs and many of his fellow tap dancers were touring and making appearances more and more.
On television in 1980 he was seen in Uptown: A Tribute to the Apollo Theatre. He performed in Sweet Saturday Night in Europe and then worked on the Broadway production, My One and Only in 1983.

Briggs toured Europe with The Hoofers which included Briggs and the tap dancers Lon Chaney, Chuck Green, Jimmy Slyde, and Sandman Sims. He then appeared in Motown Returns to the Apollo, a two hour NBC Special in May of 1985. He was included in the 1986 video compilation, Doctor Duck's Super Secret All-Purpose Sauce. He also acted in the television movie Mike's Talent Show which aired in 1987.

1989 was a big year for Briggs starting on January 26th 1989 he played a hoofer in the popular Broadway musical Black and Blue for which he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1989. He appeared in the Gregory Hines movie Tap where he does a great job singing the Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh song On the Sunny Side of the Street. He further appeared in Tap Dancers in America the same year which aired on PBS' Great Performances.

On January 20, 1991, Black and Blue played its final performance. A few months later, on May 3rd the film A Rage in Harlem was released in which his wife, the former harpist, Olivette Miller Briggs acted in.

Oklahoma City University honored Briggs with an an honorary doctorate of Performing Arts in 2002.

His wife Olivette died on April 27, 2003. Three years later, in 2006, he was inducted in the Tap Dance Hall of Fame.

Bunny Briggs died in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had lived for many years on Saturday, November 15, 2014.

Here is a great page that I encourage people to check out!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Jazz Performance - "Lovesick Blues" - Tuba Skinny

There was nothing that George A. Borgman loved more than young people playing Traditional and Old Time Jazz. Tuba Skinny is a perfect example of this.

The group is a blues and jazz band based out of New Orleans that was formed in 2009. They are known for their street performances and have played all over the world. They specialize in recreating the music of the 20s and 30s but also play more modern tunes as well as their own creations.
In this video performance filmed on Royal Street, in New Orleans on April 22, 2010 we hear singer Erika Lewis sing Lovesick Blues.
Lovesick Blues was originally published as I've Got the Lovesick Blues in 1922. It was written by Cliff Friend and Irving Mills for the musical Oh! Ernest where Anna Chandler first performed it. It appears to have been first recorded by Jack Shea for Vocalion in the Summer of 1922.
It became a fairly popular tune to record over the years but became a hit for Country artist Hank Williams in 1949. In fact, Erika Lewis incorporates the yodeling that both Emmet Miller used in the 20s and Hank Williams used in the 40s.
In this performance we have a seven member band made up of Shaye Cohn, from Boston, on cornet, Todd Burdick on tuba and Kiowa Wells on guitar. Burdick and Wells, I believe are credited with starting the group. Also, in this video are Robin Rapuzzi on washboard, Barnabus Jones on trombone and finally the clarinet player might be John Doyle.
A great article online that sums up the band and its history can be found HERE!

Friday, October 31, 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVES: "Eager Pupils Swamp School's Musical Staff"

This entry highlights George Allan Borgman's time in the 1950s as a music teacher. In this article, "Eager Pupils Swamp School's Musical Staff," from the September 20, 1956 edition of the Nevada State Journal based out of Reno. George, named as Allan, is mentioned suggesting that there just weren't enough instruments to go around for all the students who wanted to join the Lovelock Elementary School band.
In his early music career George taught music and band in a few states. He worked as music director in Lovelock for a couple of years. It was in Lovelock that he met his future wife Janet Ferroli, an elementary school teacher from New England.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Critical Articles Against Jazz from 1921

Here are two critical rants against the "new" music of jazz in a publication called School Music from 1921.
       Larned, Kans., Dec. 18, 1920.
Dear Mr. Hayden: A few thoughts suggested by the "Popular Songs" article in November-December School Music:
Supervisors are paid from public funds, presumably as educators. Shall we assume the role of entertainers, at the state's expense?
If pupils "already know" the questionable, indulgence as "light diversion" is unnecessary. Cheap resorts, and "canned" villainy everywhere, will amply supply demands.
If you personally cater to this demand, keep still about it. Do not lend influence through speech and writing to debasement of public taste. The fight against the rag-jazz abomination will be hard enough at best.
Distinguish between the merely light and trivial, and the vulgar and vicious.
A terpsichorean academy in a western city bars jazz. The owner believes that vulgar music means vulgar dancing, and considers jazz music vulgar.
A citizen, protesting through a city daily against jazz in school orchestras, thinks the way to eradicate a bad thing is to "put a good and interesting thing in its place."
   With our wealth of available good music, vocal and instrumental, there is no justification for flirting with the frivolous and vulgar at public expense, just because a noisily demonstrative element seems to approve.
Yours truly,
Le's all resolve t' do all in our power t' discourage jazz music. There's a somethin' about saxophones an' trap drummin that lures us on t' recklessness an' license. Somehow we don't seem t' care what becomes of us while a jazz orchestra is rattlin' an' gruntin' an' shriekin.' We fergit home an' mother, unless mother happens t' be in th' crowd. We feel tough an' bold. We dance with people we never heard of before an' we lounge about the sorceress o' th' Nile. Jazz records are in every home. The modern parlor smells like a star's dressin' room—cigarette smoke, cosmetics, dandelion wine an steam heat—a combination o' fumes unknown in private life before the introduction o' jazz. Once we stop jazz, much o' th' demoralization now so common '11 die out.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Jazz Performance Saturday - Trad Jazz in New Orleans!

The Saturday Jazz Performance feature has returned! Today we look at a New Orleans performance of a group of made up by some of the members of Magic Shook Heads from Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France and Ewan Bleach! Bleach is the clarinetist.

The film was posted on April 6, 2012. I don't know which tune this six membered group is playing, but I like it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Carla Maria Rotolo (1941-2014)

Carla Rotolo
Carla Rotolo, George A. Borgman's wife Janet's first cousin, died on August 25, 2014 in Sardinia, Italy at the age of 73. Although Carla and George were from very different backgrounds they shared a love of music and got along well. George wrote this about Carla, "she is an expert gourmet cook.  I like her, always have."

In the 1960s Carla was Alan Lomax's assistant. Lomax was the famous folk archivist who interviewed and recorded the legendary jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton for the Library of Congress in the 1940s. These recordings are still being released on CDs today and contain such a wealth of information on music and the creation of jazz that they are a must hear for anyone seriously into Traditional Jazz. 

Alan Lomax

Carla helped Lomax record traditional folk singers and also helped log the recordings. One late night as she was logging some music on the original reel to reel tape, the tape jammed and ripped right in the middle of a tune. In a panic Carla unraveled the mess as best she could flattened out the wrinkled tape and taped the two crooked ends back together. She rewound the repaired tape rethreaded the machine and pressed "play." The music started up, and as she listened intently to hear what the damaged section was going to sound like, she couldn't hear anything but the music! Miraculously the repaired portion left no discernable problems on the audio.

She can be seen in the Lomax documentary filmed in 1961 entitled Ballads, Blues and Bluegrass which was recently released.

Carla can be seen smiling in close-up.
Carla also was an early supporter of Bob Dylan talking him up to important people she knew connected with music. She opened her vast collection of folk recordings to him and he would spend hours listening to records in her apartment during the day. 

Carla had introduced her sister Susan to Dylan and they began dating. Carla would sing back-up with Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan in those early days before she became disenchanted with Dylan especially in how he treated her sister.

Suze is much credited with influencing Dylan and his early music. But no mention is made on Carla's influence on her younger sister. Carla was politically active and working for civil rights, she was an artist, did theater set designing, was a writer and had an affinity for Bertolt Brecht. Almost all of these things her younger sister was also in to. Suze even used the same type of pen as Carla and her handwriting was very similar. In fact, though Suze did wear long boots also, it was Carla who had the, "Boots of Spanish Leather," which were made in Madrid, that Dylan wrote a song about.

When the affair was coming to an end between her sister and Dylan, a big fight erupted between them at Carla's apartment. Carla came to her sister's aid and clashed with Dylan who refused to leave and who shoved Carla around. Dylan was finally ejected but he immortalized that night and viciously vilified Carla in the song Ballad in Plain D.
Far from the "parasite" that Bob Dylan labeled Carla, she always had a job doing something different or important. In the 70s she worked for the controversial Grove Press run by Barney Rosset and later worked for former baseball player Joe Garagiola, as his personal assistant during his years at NBC. Afterwards she'd work as a proofreader and copyeditor at various publications.

In 1987, Carla moved to Sardinia to look after her aged mother and step-father. She made two extensive trips back to the States in 1998 and 2005 staying with the Borgmans and visiting friends.

In 2005 when Carla visited the Borgmans staying with them for six months George always happily invited Carla out to the Sherborn Inn every Tuesday to hear the jazz bands that played there. She went every week, but one. Carla enjoyed listening to the music and conversing with the musicians during the break and reminiscing about her days in Greenwich Village.

Suze shut out Carla from her life as well as other family members. When she died in 2011 neither Suze's husband or son bothered to let Carla know. Carla, who was always the kindhearted one and was very caring commented that if she had known Suze were ill, "had I KNOWN I would have called - I don't hold grudges I just stay away. Far away so that when potshots are being fired I can dodge 'em. It's also called hiding out. I really prefer peace in the valley."

Living anonymously in Sardinia did help keep the worst of the Dylanites from bothering her. Dylan's character assassination followed her to the grave.

Just a month before she died she was portrayed by actress Jaime Babbitt from July 17 - August 9, 2014 in the Larry Mollin play Search: Paul Clayton - A true tale of Love, Folk Music and Betrayal at the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. Mollin's character description for Carla Rotolo was the stupidly, "cynical New Yorker."

Carla still loved her music and jazz, commenting several times recently, about Vince Giordano's Nighthawks Orchestra. She also remained politically active and took part in several conservationist rallies and other efforts to bring awareness to the plight of animals and the natural environment. She was staunchly against genetically modified foods and spoke passionately about the values of organically grown vegetables. Carla was a supporter of the World Wildlife Fund and Doctors Without Borders as well as many other causes.

She died after a bad kitchen fall in her condo in Santa Teresa di Gallura on August 25th. She is survived by many first cousins and by her beloved cat Vivaldi who had been her constant companion for over 15 years.

She was interred in a crypt at the Buon Cammino Cemetery on September 3rd on the outskirts of Santa Teresa di Gallura. George's son Eric was the only family to attend, he also rescued her cat, bringing him back to America where George's widow Janet, is caring for him.
Carla Rotolo Wikipedia Entry

If you were a friend or acquaintance of Carla please contact me as I am still researching her life.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jazz Performance Saturday! The Shobi Dixieland Jazz Band plays "Down By the Riverside"

Today's performance takes a listen to some Japanese Dixieland played by the Shobi Dixieland Jazz Band with their version of Down By the Riverside filmed in about 2011!
Down By the Riverside is an American spiritual that was first published in 1918 by the Rodeheaver Company in a musical collection called "Rodeheaver's Plantation Melodies: A Collection of Modern, Popular and Old-time Negro-Songs of the Southland."
Although Down By the Riverside has been assumed to be a song that originally emanated from the struggle of slaves for their freedom around the Civil War, unfortunately there is no solid evidence in the written record of this.
The phrase "down by the riverside" is a fairly common one in slave songs. Also, the way the song was written is similar to other call out songs where one will lead the song and others will repeat. The song has long been included in Baptist hymnals and it has been published under various titles such as, Ain't Gonna Study War No More, Goin' to Lay down My Burden, and Ain't Gonna Grieve My Lord No More among others.
Not much information is available on the Shobi Dixieland Jazz Band of Japan, apart from the fact that the band in the video consists of six members. Three women and three men. It looks like the band consists of a saxophone, cornet, trombone, piano, tuba and drums.
There are several more videos posted online of this band all around 2010 and 2011. Check them out!

The Shobi Dixieland Jazz Band plays
Down By the Riverside in 2011.

Monday, August 11, 2014

NEGRO MUSIC OF THE PRESENT - A 1918 Article by R. Nathaniel Dett

Samuel C. Armstrong
 The below article was published in The Southern Workman a publication of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute of Virginia. The magazine was founded by General Samuel C. Armstrong, an educator, in 1872.

He had founded the Institute in 1868 for the education of blacks and Indians. Booker T. Washington had been a student at the school.
R. Nathaniel Dett
R. Nathaniel Dett, the author of the article was the Director of Music at Hampton Institute. The article was actually a chapter in a pamphlet on black American music. The article here appears as written and published in 1918.
Here is a link to an article regarding the history of the Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute.
On page seventy-two of his “American Masters of Painting,” Mr. Charles H. Caffin makes the following statement: “ So far as could be judged from the showing made by American painters at previous expositions, they were but reflecting the influences of Paris, or of German and English painting.” And then he asks this pertinent question, “Was there, in fact, as distinguished from art in America, any American art?”
Turning to the realm of music, one finds an analogous situation; for, until very recently, music in America was but the reflection of music in Europe. Many of the works by American composers were even named in a foreign language, which shows how extensive was the disregard for things of native origin. If there was, in fact, any real American music as distinguished from music in America, it had as a foundation the songs of popular minstrels, including those of Stephen Foster, the ditties sung in colored operas, and the farcical “coon songs” of the vaudeville stage—music which, while being distinctive enough, was too trivial in intent and effect to constitute anything worthy of the name of “art.”
As for Negro composers, since it seemed the style to avoid in serious efforts any modes of expression by which one’s work might be recognized and consequently condemned as “homemade,” they, too, turned to far-away things for inspiration, becoming either second-hand imitators of Europe through their white American brothers, or, if possessing ideals, sacrificing them for mercenary ends in the creation of a form of popular music designed to satisfy a preconceived (and not very high) ideal held by white people of what Negro music should be.
It remained for an outsider, a Bohemian—the famous Dvorak to show America and the world something of what is possible in the larger forms of musical composition by using the Negro and Indian folk tunes, if not as actual themes, at least by allowing the spirit of them to be the acknowledged source of inspiration. So much has been written and said of the “New World Symphony," that more is not necessary here. It is sufficient to recall the fact that the symphony and Dvorak’s remark that “the future music of this country must be founded upon what are called Negro melodies” were innovations of a rather startling nature to Americans—forerunners of a new trend of thought, whose truly prophetic significance the present-day work of American composers, especially that of the Negro composers themselves, is evidencing.
Yet one sometimes hears in Negro concert choruses and in the playing of “rags,” jass music, and other dance tunes by untutored or only partially educated Negro orchestras and pianists, effects which surpass in real characterization any of the results obtained by Dvorak. Beautiful and unusual as the “New World Symphony" is, it yet leaves a great deal to be said through the medium of Negro folk idiom,the true expression of which will undoubtedly best be made when some Negro composer, who is thoroughly alive to and appreciative of the traditions of his race, “rises up to say some glorious thing” in the musical language of his fathers.
I do not mean by this that the Negro musician and composer has not been hard at work to elevate and develop his music and thus create a new and indigenous art in this country, for such a statement would be far from true. The foreign scholarship which enabled a few young Negro musicians to go abroad for further study was raised and maintained by a colored woman, who has since given festivals of Negro primitive and developed music in many of our leading cities, to the great edification of both races and of especial encouragement to aspiring black artists. One of the beneficiaries of this scholarship has made arrangements of several of the old spirituals which have gained considerable public favor as new compositions; an article from his pen on the music of his race appeared in one of the leading music journals of the country, and recently one of our largest publishing houses issued a composition for the pipe organ on a folksong theme by the same contributor.
Another foreign scholarship beneficiary, besides touring as solo violinist, has recently published violin arrangements of a high degree of merit based on Negro spirituals.
Again, a Negro musician, the protegé of Northern white philanthrophy, is now one of the best known of American singers and classic song writers. While his efforts in Negro music are small as compared with his general work, yet one short choral arrangement of an old Negro theme has become one of the most widely used pieces of American religious music.
Still another Negro composer has been called the Mourssorgsky of his race, because of his unusual ability faithfully to portray Negro characteristics, especially those which savor of old-fashioned superstitions and quaint humor.
In the West two Negro brothers have made collections of, folksongs and have used them as elements in cantatas; in the East two other Negro brothers, one of whom is a famous American litterateur, have cooperated in the production of lyric and operatic Negro music which has no equal elsewhere, and the influence of which has been largely instrumental in the rise of a new school of popular music in America.
Several other Negro musicians were, until the recent draft of men for the World War, leaders of characteristic orchestras especially devoted to Negro dance music—orchestras whose services were sought by leading actors and play houses in the largest metropolitan cities.
Another Negro composer has written two suites for the pianoforte of five numbers each, on ideas incidental to Negro life; these suites have been considerably used in conservatories and music schools. At the memorial service held at Hamilton, Ontario, last year, for the Canadian dead of the Great War, the Pièce de résistance of the program was an anthem based on a Negro spiritual by this same composer. Another of his folksong anthems has been used by practically all of the leading universities and community choirs of the country, and was one of the features of the Norfolk, Connecticut, music festival last fall. The dedication of one of this composer’s piano suites expresses something of his feeling of appreciation for the efforts of those to whom he is very largely indebted for his musical education.
Lastly, there has been established at the National Capital a conservatory of music, dedicated to the furtherance of Negro music; it is entirely officered by colored people and a colored woman is its principal. It has as trustees some of the leading white musicians of the country.
As the scope of this paper is limited to America, the work of Negro composers overseas is not mentioned. Suffice it to say that two English Negro composers have attained a most enviable position among the world’s music masters, largely by reason of their activity in the development of their own racial idiom.
This glimpse of the work of Negro musicians of the present day in handling their own folk tunes shows that they are at last awaking to the fact that there is a great truth in the words from Holy Writ, “The kingdom of heaven lies within.” It also shows that appreciation, often beyond what has been hoped for, is ever attendant upon worthy effort. Why even more has not been accomplished by Negro musicians in the development of their own music will appear from a study of the following facts :—

1 General indifference, amounting almost to contempt for things of native origin, and a slavish admiration on the part of American composers, critics, and, to some extent, publishers, for European ideals in music and art

2 Lack of literary masterpieces of Negro themes, which as librettos or programs would be sources of inspiration for great idiomatic musical works

3 Lack of proper musical and academic training among Negro composers

4 Lack of time for racial study and composition on the part of Negro composers
Only a moment is necessary for the discussion of these four impediments.
Regarding the first I quote from a treatise on music history for students by a professor in one of our leading American colleges, a college whose conservatory department ranks second to none, and which ought therefore to lead one to expect an extremely progressive point of view: “From a world-historic point of view, it cannot be maintained that American composition has advanced the development of the art, enlarged its field of expression, or propounded new problems. . . . There is no native music; there are no national traditions on which to build.”
And also from a society of American intellectuals devoted to the dissemination of educational literature comes the following: “From this standpoint one is inclined to contend that neither the Negro melodies nor the Indian melodies, which seem to have most impressed Dvorak in his musical researches in this country and which have been cited as the possible basis of a national school of music, have any significance whatever, or in any degree reflect national feelings or characteristics.”
While it must be admitted as true that American composition so far has not materially advanced the art of music, the reason is not because there is nothing indigenous on which to build, but because the great store of native assets which might be so used has been ignored by American musical architects. Furthermore, if Dvorak, Busoni, Coleridge-Taylor, and Laparra, all foreigners, could discover in America, after only a few months’ sojourn, enough native material for a symphony, a piano concerto, an oratorio, a great quantity of salon music, and an opera, it is rather safe to conclude that if American composers themselves have not found here at home inspiration for similar works. defective eyesight rather than the lack of well-springs from which to draw must be to blame. And further, if the Indian and Negro songs do not of themselves express national feelings and characteristics, it still remains true that the race question in America is a national issue, having national interests and national effects.
The second point needs no discussion, not even the great Dunbar having left anything which might serve this purpose. The significance of the third becomes apparent when it is remembered that, so far as the writer has been able to find out, the schooling of no Negro musician has resulted in any higher degree than that of Bachelor of Music. The foundation for the fourth item is the fact that, omitting one instance which is very exceptional, even in the case of those Negroes who seem to have attained the greatest success, composition is a “side issue," done between classes in school or after hours of work in some other profession or trade by means of which a real living can be made.
In the development and conservation of her physical resources, America has spent millions of Government money, but almost all that has been done towards the establishing of a national American school of art or music has been through the personal efforts of students and philanthropists. Recently an Indian boy who has no money came to me after one of my sight-singing classes and asked for lessons in harmony. He knows that the study of harmony forms no part of our school course; he came because he has caught the spirit of race and wishes to learn to express properly the music of his people. I sincerely trust that off-hours will find us working together.
Among the large number of Hampton students there are always some who, being endowed with pronounced natural ability, would make excellent musicians and could be trained to become strong factors in the preservation and development of race idioms. Many have earnestly expressed themselves as being ambitious in this direction but are held back by lack of funds or other circumstances which they cannot control. Such conditions among students are probably to be found in all Negro and Indian schools.
Could a national American philanthropy serve a worthier purpose than the special education to the highest possible point of these native-born Americans, to the end that folk traditions, which are rapidly passing away, may be saved by those who know them best, that the backward races in this country may be greatly encouraged through the attainments of their individual members, and that through a great national enterprise, true servants may be created to the great cause of a real American art?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jazz Performance Saturday! - Belgrade Dixieland Orchestra - "At the Jazz Band Ball"

This Saturday we have a video of the Belgrade Dixieland Orchestra playing At the Jazz Band Ball.
A publicity still of the Belgrade Dixieland Orchestra!
At the Jazz Band Ball which is a Dixieland Jazz standard was composed by Nick LaRocca and Larry Shields, members of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, in 1917. The ODJB recorded their first version of this tune in New York on September 3, 1917. The group would go on to record it a few more times. It is a very popular tune and most Traditional jazz bands play it.
The Belgrade Dixieland Orchestra operates out of Serbia. They have an extensive list of recordings that have been put out five CDs, their last being "National Treasure" from 2012, and have made appearances worldwide, but especially in Europe.
Members of the orchestra are,  Vladimir Rackovic - banjo, vocals; Sava Matic - trumpet; Veljko Klenkovski - clarinet; Vukasin Markovic - trombone; Aleksandar Miletic - piano; Ivan Maksimovic - bass; Milos Milosavljevic - drums; and Aleksandra Bijelic - vocals.
They have a website HERE and are also on FACEBOOK!

This performance was uploaded online on March 20, 2009.
Listen to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band's version of the tune recorded March 19, 1919.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jazz Performance Saturday - Ross Petot on Piano - "Night and Day"

As a new feature of the Saturday Jazz Performance, Yankee Jazz Beat will highlight piano players on the first Saturday of every month.

Pianist and composer Ross Petot will be the first shown in this new feature playing Night and Day with Swing Times Five at the 2012 Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in Essex, Connecticut.
Swing Times Five consists of leader Jeff Hughes, on cornet; Ross Petot,  piano; Lou Bocciarelli, bass; Dan Weiner on guitar, and Dave Didriksen - drums.
Petot is an exceptional pianist playing any style with ease. He made a name for himself as a Ragtime and Stride piano player early on. He recorded an album of his ragtime compositions called New Ragtime and Other Stuff. His compositions are popular with others, being played at festivals and recitals across the United States.
Here Ross plays Cole Porter's well loved 1932 Night and Day. Porter wrote the song for the Fred Astaire stage musical The Gay Divorce. Astaire's recording of Night and Day was a hit. He would sing it again on film in 1934 for the Astaire-Roger's vehicle The Gay Divorcee.


Ross Petot's CD "New Ragtime" is still for sale contact Petot at to order a copy. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Brian Carrick's Heritage Jazz Quartet - A Review by George A. Borgman

Many British jazz musicians are obsessed with the early and even the recent jazz music of New Orleans, and Brian Carrick's recording, according to Peter King's liner notes, is supposedly the music "coming from one of the many dockside bars along Decatur Street, New Orleans, or from one of the small dance halls dotted around the French Quarter in the 1940/50 era."
The first of the quartet's two sessions was recorded for Bill Bissonnette's Jazz Crusade label, and the second session was recorded at a jazz festival at Pontin's, "a holiday camp" at Weston-Super-Mare, England.
The quartet has been in existence for many years and its members come from diverse areas of England. According to King's notes, the music consists of spirituals, blues, ballads and a couple of breakdowns; however, the "spirituals" are more like hymns, and it is questionable as to whether any of the tunes are authentic ballads.
Carrick plays the clarinet with a very wide vibrato which on the hymn-like tunes produces a feeling of melancholy. Bassist Ken Matthews, in the style of many British bassists, plucks the strings very loudly which leads one to believe the bass' strings are made of catgut.
Since there are only four players, with the clarinet taking most of the solos and playing the melodic lead, drummer Male Murphy has to produce a great variety of rhythmic variations in the background to Carrick's improvisations and variations of the melodies. This keeps the music on this CD from becoming boring.
The best performed tunes are "St. Phillip Street Breakdown," "God Will Take Care of You," in waltz time, "Nearer My God to Thee," "High Society" and "Burgundy Street Blues." More solos from the banjo and bass, a vocal or two, and even an added cornet would aid the listener in appreciating more of this recording which is quite interesting for the listener who likes the New Orleans sound. - George A. Borgman, IAJRC Journal

Brian Carrick's Heritage Hall Stompers play at a festival, Exactly Like You, 2001.

The Heritage Hall Stompers Website.

Memories of a Jazz Journalist - Part Seven - "Errors"

Here is the continuation of Memories of a Jazz Journalist by George A. Borgman.

I have reviewed numerous jazz recordings for the Mississippi Rag. In one review I identified the tune "Cross Your Heart" as "Cross Your Eyes," and in another, "Big Butter and Egg Man" as "Big Brother and Egg Man." The errors got through me, my wife, Janet, an excellent proofreader, and the editors at the Rag.

Here is the tune Cross Your Heart played by Roger Wolfe Kahn and His Orchestra in 1926.
Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five with singer May Alix - Big Butter and Egg Man, recorded in 1926.


"Who would believe?" - by George A. Borgman

George Borgman writes a short autobiographical blurb on January 27, 1996.
Who would believe that I would be a jazz journalist in the later years of my life? I was a lousy high school student, doing best in band and orchestra, playing clarinet, and writing for the Courier, the Normandy High School newspaper.
I played with dance bands and combos and went on to college and eventually earned a B.M. (prefer to call it B.Mus.) degree in music history and literature and a master's degree in musicology. And until now, I've never worked as a reviewer or written concerning music subjects.
I'm not writing about classical music but about traditional jazz. Amazing!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jazz Performance Saturday! Dixieland French Style - "Yes Sir, That's My Baby"

George A. Borgman said, "Traditional jazz belongs to the world," and since the Saturday Jazz Performance series was started here at Yankee Jazz Beat, it appears that he was absolutely correct.
We've had examples from Italy, Russia, Slovakia, Germany and of course the United States. Today's, jazz performance is one by an unknown street band in Perros-Guirec, Brittany, France during a street festival sometime in 2010.
Although only four in number, they certainly produce a pretty lively version of, I believe, Yes Sir, That's My Baby The group, dressed as old fashioned convicts, seems to consist of a tuba, trumpet, portable  drums contraption and a banjo. Despite their funny appearance they perform a pretty convincing dose of Trad jazz!

Yes Sir, That's My Baby was written by Gus Kahn (words) and Walter Donaldson (music) in 1925, the song being introduced by Margaret Young. Later, Al Jolson would sing it in 1930.

Since the original English version, there have been other versions in various languages including Yiddish!

So, without further ado...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jazz Performance Saturday! "Down By the Riverside" - Jericho Dixieland Jazz Band

Publicity photo taken from their Facebook
page. All rights reserved. 
The Jericho Dixieland Jazz Band is based out of San Pietro a Maida, of the Calabria region of Italy! Their performance of  Down By the Riverside was recorded March 3, 2013.
Down By the Riverside is an American spiritual that was first published in 1918 by the Rodeheaver Company in a musical collection called "Rodeheaver's Plantation Melodies: A Collection of Modern, Popular and Old-time Negro-Songs of the Southland."
Although Down By the Riverside has been assumed to be a song that originally emanated from the struggle of slaves for their freedom around the Civil War, unfortunately there is no solid evidence in the written record of this.
The phrase "down by the riverside" is a fairly common one in slave songs. Also, the way the song was written is similar to other call out songs where one will lead the song and others will repeat. The song has long been included in Baptist hymnals and it has been published under various titles such as, Ain't Gonna Study War No More, Goin' to Lay down My Burden, and Ain't Gonna Grieve My Lord No More among others.
It was first recorded by the Fisk Jubilee Quartet as I Ain't Goin' to Study War No More. It has long been played by Traditional jazz bands. Both Bunk Johnson and George Lewis during the traditional jazz resurgence  both recorded the tune as well as many many others.
Here the Jubilee Dixieland Jazz Band play a spirited version of the tune in the "traditional" or Dixieland jazz vein. This band was started in 2005 featuring Lorenzo Varano on trombone; Nicholas Marinaro on trumpet;  Anthony Davoli on bass tuba; Francis Davoli on euphonium;  Gianluca Materazzo on banjo and Joseph Maggisano on vocals and guitar. New members of the band are Francesco Gemelli on alto saxophone; Thomas Maggisano on drums; Luke Roseto on soprano saxophone and Andrea Bonaccurso on banjo.
It is not clear which members are playing in this 2013 performance unfortunately. The original video had some serious shake going on so I have processed it to make it more presentable.