[Dixielandjazz] What is Dixieland? From the DJML's FAQ page...

Bill Gunter jazzboard at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 9 06:12:52 PDT 2003


Lot of discussion on the use of the term "dixieland" - I guess we have to go 
over that every couple of years.

It doesn't really matter what you call it because it simply is what it is. 
The only reason we may want to call it dixieland is because everyone else in 
the world sorta knows what is meant by the word.

Sometimes in group conversations it comes out that I play in a band at this 
or that venue and someone will ask, "Oh, and what kind of music do you 
play?" What am I to respond? If I say "jazz" they will think of some sort of 
music which I do not play. If I say "Trad" or "Classic" jazz they are often 
confused and ask what that means. If I say "Dixieland" then they start to 
get a knowing look in their eyes as if they now have a clue as to just what 
it is I play.

Sometimes they ask "what is that [dixieland]?" At which point I usually 
respond "Oh, that's the sort of music Louis Armstrong used to play. At that 
point practically everyone knows just what kind of band I play in.

I think the key word today is "dixieland" . . . not because I think it's 
such a hot word but it does seem to more accurately describe the sort of 
jazz we play.

It's sort of like a musician explaining to someone that he plays "latin" 
music. Most people would recognize that the musician plays some sort of 
Cuban/Caribbean/Mexican/Brazilian/South American sort of music but exactly 
what . . . Tango? Bossa Nova? Calypso? Afro-Cubano? It can get confusing.

"Jazz" is a generic term. "Dixieland" is a specific term for a type of jazz. 
  You know, Bela Fleck plays jazz and he plays banjo but he don't play 
"dixieland."  Eddie Erickson plays jazz and he plays banjo and he does play 
"dixieland."  There is obviously a difference and those of us who have heard 
both musicians know it.

There are some other distinctions about this subject I could make. For 
example, "modern jazz" tends to be cerebral and "Dixieland" (or trad) tends 
to be visceral. That is to say, you don't have to analyze dixieland, you 
just automatically start tapping your feet with it.

Dixieland has large doses of humor laced throughout the idiom. Other forms 
tend to take themselves much more seriously.

Dixieland is generally pretty danceable stuff. Not many people get up and 
dance to the stuff Dave Brubeck plays (although I do love Brubeck, I can't 
dance to it).

Dixieland is "fun" - other forms of jazz are "work."

Dixieland is for conservatives, other forms of jazz are for liberals . . . I 
know, I know, this is a gross generalization and is a political statement 
but I know what I mean when I say such things. :-)

Dixieland is "hot" - other forms of jazz are "cool."

I'll stop here by simply reiterating what I noted at the outset. It doesn't 
matter what you call it. The music is simply what it is and is best listened 
to rather than described.


Bill "plays dixieland!" Gunter
jazzboard at hotmail.com

>Chris Tyle wrote...
> > As I recall, Eddie Condon, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll
> > Morton, Bunk Johnson, Wild Bill Davison, et. al., referred to their 
> > Jazz...not dixieland.
> >
> > So why should we use that name?
>Why indeed...  Maybe because this isn't the JML we're talking over, but the
>_D_JML, as Peter Lovric named it.  If for no other reason, we shouldn't 
>the D.
>Then again, who is the 'we' you're talking about.  If it's just a tight
>little circle of friends who already know all about it, that's one thing,
>but the list is a bigger universe than that.  If it's just jazz, then 
>have Steve Barbone doing his 'I remember Monk' and the odd Miles fan
>thinking the list is all about that.  It's not.  It doesn't matter to me
>whether you call it pre-swing, trad, dixieland, Chicago, New York or
>whatever other designator you want, but you just can't say 'jazz', cuz
>that's about a whole lot of stuff that we're not about here on the 
>Jazz Mailing List.
>Best from Wake,
>Ron [or we could just open the Bossa Nova wing on the DJML Public Library]
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

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