[Dixielandjazz] More on King Oliver

Anton Crouch a.crouch at unsw.edu.au
Mon May 5 01:01:45 PDT 2003

Hello Chris T and David L

Thanks for the response. The point about the way in which the Oliver band
"romped" on record, without a bass instrument, is a good one.

My use of the phrase "two cornet lead" was sloppy but I didn't say (and I
don't think I implied) that Oliver and Armstrong played in unison. I don't
know what phrase could be used to describe the two cornet phenomenon.
However, the point remains, on the basis of recorded evidence, that having
two cornets in a small jazz ensemble was novel in 1922.

We know that the NO brass bands used 2 or more trumpets/cornets but this
does not necessarily mean that the jazz bands also did. All the white
"fives" used a single cornet and the what evidence there is for the black
bands (eg the Bolden photo and Ory's Californian records of 1922) shows the
same thing. I'd love to be shown to be wrong on this - can anybody give any
evidence of any band (that we might now recognise as a "jazz band") using
more than one trumpet/cornet before Oliver in 1922?

Coming back to the NO brass bands, it's of interest that, when Bunk Johnson
recorded so prolifically between 1942 and 1946, he used 2 trumpets for his
"brass band" but always only one for his "superior band", "jazz band",
"band" and "New Orleans band".

Chris, on the matter of Oliver's "laziness", I was only quoting from Laurie
Wright's "King Oliver" (Storyville, 1987). Whatever the reasons for Oliver
hiring Armstrong in 1922 (and your suggestions are good ones), we are all
the better for it.

All the best

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