[Dixielandjazz] Dixieland

David W. Littlefield dwlit@cpcug.org
Wed, 11 Sep 2002 21:21:47 -0400

At 06:18 PM 9/10/2002 -0400, Brian Towers wrote:
>>I have seen these sub-divisions of dixieland before and the concept falls
>short, in my opinion.
>There is no place for the New York stride of Fats Waller, James P, willie
>the Lion etc;
>No place for the blues of Bessie Smith or the Jazz singing of Ethel Waters
>nor early swing nor Buddy Bolden's ragtime, etc etc
> - none of these styles can be called dixieland.
>Seems more suitable to me to have the term "traditional jazz", as the
>umbrella,  with dixieland as one of the various styles.

Actually, that's only reason I can tolerate the term OKOM, since those
exceptions and some others, including 30s swing, are well within the normal
musical interest boundaries of DJML. I rather like the term "traditional
jazz" but it seems to be problematical, because it's so generic. So I
frequently think in terms of "20s Jazz" and "30s Jazz", especially since
there is so much instrumental solo and vocal literature available--piano,
guitar, jazz-accompanied blues. 

>The best attempt (and it can only be an attempt!) at defining the various
>OKOM jazz styles that I have seen is
>"A Traditional Jazz Style Guide"  by Dave Robinson.  it can be seen on the
>Trqaditional Jazz Educators network web site.  Anyone interested can view it
>at http://www.prjc.org/tjen/styleguide.htm

I know Dave Robinson very well. He's a serious scholar, record collector,
and one of the DC area's top cornetists/trumpeters--he can play
knowledgeably and convincingly most OKOM styles, plus mainstream modern
(haven't heard him play Bebop). I'd take his categories as gospel, because
one is unlikely to find a better, more studied statement; possibly one
might add a subcategory here or there. 

The problem arises when one tries to push categories and artists too far.
After all, some artists belong in more than one category, and some recorded
music that isn't jazz (or even jazzy) at all--Ethel Waters, Benny Goodman,

I would remind you that categorization efforts are *retrospective*, and are
intended to aid in discussing, finding, buying and reading about our
favorite musics by organizing them and providing some degree of
*objective*, consistent labels. There is NO CONNECTION AT ALL with what the
*artists* called what they played--their ideas and comments are only
historical trivia. Our categories are essentially conclusions as to the
similarities and dissimilarities of what we hear on the records, leavened
at times by historical data. There is some room for differences in opinion
as to the exact terms used, and as to which categories an artist belongs,
but to the extent that individuals apply them inconsistently, and impose
personal preferences rather than objective criteria, the effort is muddied.