[Dixielandjazz] Re: Blindfold Tests - Downbeat

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 17 16:27:27 PST 2003

> <mikedurham_jazz at hotmail.com> wrote
> the late great Oran 'Hot Lips' Page always maintained the same thing,
> until he was given the blindfold test by one of the magazines (Downbeat?)
> and coudn't tell whether the men were white or black. They were all guys
> playing in the same late-swing style, so color was the only variable.

Yes, Downbeat did a series of blind fold tests about "What color were the players?" on
those who claimed they could tell the difference. Hot Lips was a notorious failure, as was
Roy Eldridge and just about everyone else who took the tests.

Trick here is to get bands or players who do not have an easily identified style. Like
Monk would be easy, etc. However with careful choosing of bands or players most of us
would be very hard pressed to tell who was who. EG. Some British Trad Bands would be
identified as black and some Black straight ahead jazz bands would be identified as white

Unless the player is easily identified, Monk, Goodman, Davison, Armstrong, the test could
fail all of us.

Example: If someone had never heard Pee Wee Russell and Jimmy Hamilton and was then
exposed to their playing in a blindfold test, my guess is that they would be misidentified
almost every time. Tom Wiggins, I bet this one would get you. The trick is to find lesser
known players that the listening expert has not heard before.

Steve Barbone

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