[Dixielandjazz] Arrangements vs. Improvisation

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 18 17:15:53 PST 2003

"norrie.thomson" wrote:

> If we are speaking about ensemble playing rather than a continuous string of
> solos, we should remember that before Louis came on the scene all jazz was
> ensemble.

Except, perhaps, that Sidney Bechet may well have beaten Louis Armstrong
to the
solo path. And he was every bit the soloist that Louis was.

Louis and Bechet were on the scene at the very beginning of jazz, no?
Who knows
what they were playing before they recorded? Especially Bechet on those
"advertising wagons" from about 1915 or so onward. Or when doing the
trick he
developed at Pete Lala's Cabaret in New Orleans around that same time.

He would be playing a "solo" while he slowly took the clarinet apart,
continuing to amuse the customers until all he had left to play was the
mouthpiece. Then he would slowly put it back together again continuing
to play
and complete the show. At the time, I believe Bechet was working there with
King Oliver, violinist Ferdinand Valteau, Henry Zeno (drums) and Manuel Manetta

And Bechet and fellow clarinetist Emile Barnes used to hide their
clarinets in
their back pockets and seek out other clarinetists for cutting contests on
gigs. That had to be in solo form. Barnes was quoted talking about this and
saying that circa 1914,  Johnny Dodds used to run away when he saw
Bechet and
Barnes coming.

Armstrong made the "solo" form popular, but I don't think he was the
first to
solo in jazz.

Steve Barbone

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