[Dixielandjazz] St Louis Blues (was 1st Jazz recording?)

Anton Crouch a.crouch at unsw.edu.au
Mon Aug 25 16:14:19 PDT 2003

Hello Rob

Early recordings of St Louis Blues are fascinating and a real challenge to
jazz musicologists. Ciro's and WC Handy's own early recording may be
"jazzy" but I think they lack that "spark" that we identify with music that
is unambiguously jazz. It's a difficult subject and once we start
considering issues such as gestalt we get into a right royal mess.

The other aspect of St Louis Blues that makes it a real "killer" for jazz
classification is the "Spanish influence". I hesitate to use Morton's
phrase, "Spanish tinge", because the habanera rhythm of SLB sounds so
calculated in the early performances. It's yet another example that shows
that the composition itself is not necessarily jazz - jazz lies in the
performance. Having said that, how do we classify the classic Bessie
Smith/Louis Armstrong/Fred Longshaw performance? Blues? jazz? both?

All the best

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list