[Dixielandjazz] Dixieland was George Lewis

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Tue, 10 Sep 2002 17:28:46 -0400

Brian Harvey Wrote:

"Without getting into a very long discussion I just cannot agree that
what the Lewis band played was Dixieland. I know that the word is used
even today by New Orleans bands to describe what they play but among
enthusiasts and students of the music, not musicians, the word Dixieland
means something more akin to the Condon style of things which of course
Jim Beebe was an absolute ace at. I do not have the skill to describe
New Orleans jazz in front of this audience of musos but I do feel that
it was something different - perhaps the emphasis on ensemble work would
be the most obvious feature."

List mates, Brian, Jim:

I agree with Jim Beebe here. Dixieland is what Lewis played. If New
Orleans Jazz means "ensemble" then I think Nick LaRocca would have named
his band the Original New Orleans Jazz Band. Perhaps Tex Wyndham has the
right idea. It is all Dixieland. However within that framework are seven
styles of Dixieland, or sub categories: They are, stated with simplicity
for brevity's sake:

Downtown New Orleans  - First played by classically trained creole
musos  (King Oliver music)
Uptown New Orleans - Rough edged, ear players, little formal training
(George Lewis music)
White New Orleans - (Original Dixieland Jazz Band - New Orleans Rhythm
Kings music)
Chicago - (Condon -Jim Beebe - Don Ingle - Kim Cusack - Wild Bill
British Trad  ( All those Brits who appeared in the 50s with a
distinctly "British" New Orleans style)
San Francisco or West Coast Revival (Turk Murphy, Lu Watters, Bob

I forget the 7th style, Hot Dance? (Louis Armstrong Big Band etc)  In
any case, if you subscribe to Tex's opinion, then it is all Dixieland.
And all of it except Chicago has the primary emphasis on ensemble.

According to Richard Sudhalter, "Dixieland" became a white band oriented
description in the 30s and "Small Band Swing" was the equivalent black
band term. However the music was the same. The media and/or record
producers coined the terms, not the musos. When I grew up in New York
City, Wilbur DeParis' band was playing Dixieland as far as he and we,
were concerned. That color distinction hype is just about gone now and
was responsible for a lot of confusion about the music.

Jim Beebe's description of Dixieland " original polyphonic-counterpoint
form of jazz" seems to me right on the money. That includes all of the
styles mentioned above, and most others that may, or may not exist.

When Lewis, with a swinging band, became popular again in the USA in the
50s, he was a part of the US "Dixieland" revival, as were Turk, Lu, Bob
Scobey, and Condon, Wild Bill, Beebe, Ingle  et al. Roots in New Orleans
to be sure, but they played different styles of "Dixieland".

Tex Wyndham has written a book "How Dixieland Works". Interesting
reading for students of the genre.

Steve Barbone