[Dixielandjazz] Klezmer - 1904 Dixieland - etc .

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 21 13:13:52 PST 2005

"David W. Littlefield" (Sheik) <dwlit at cpcug.org> wrote

> On the cassette I have of 20s klezmer records, they sound just like regular
> brass bands, certainly not the klezmer of today.

I'm with you David. Klezmer is a "developing" musical genre. It has changed
constantly since its beginnings. In both instrumentation and in style. E.G.
the clarinet as the lead instrument in Klezmer is a very recent development,
within the past half Century. It was not used for hundreds of years

The music revolved around the folk music of what every country in which it
was performed at the time. And so Klezmer of the 1920s is very different
from that of today in the USA. And even more true say of Klezmer in the
1800s in Europe to that of today. Klezmer history? See the web site:


Dixieland would not have been around in 1904. The term itself, as an music
adjective, did not come into usage until the late 1920s. Prior to that
"Dixieland" meant Southern USA. E.G. Tom Brown's Band From Dixieland. NOT
Tom Brown's Band which plays Dixieland.

According to Richard Sudhalter's chapter entitled "Dixieland" in his book,
"Lost Chords", the term came to its present usage (describing the music
played by White Jazz Bands) in the 1930s. Prior to that, he writes;
"Dixieland was "used freely to identify bands of both races playing any
music style even distantly reminiscent of a southern Arcadia." E.G. Dixie
Daisies. Dixie Four, Dixie Instrumental Four, Dixie Stompers, Dixieland
Rhythm Kings, Dixie Thumpers and even King Oliver's Dixie Syncopators. (half
of the above listed bands were black)

Sudhalter writes further that; "Whatever the specific causes, by the mid
1930s the word 'Dixieland' was being applied freely to certain circles of
white musicians first by the trade press, then by the public."

Even today, Webster's Dictionary defines "Dixieland" as:
"the South; Dixie," also "Dixie Land -adj. in, of, or like a style of small
band, improvised jazz characterized by fast ragtime tempos and a strict
beat, and associated historically with early white New Orleans jazz

It seems as if that idea is still valid (in usage) today since most folks
state as "fact" today that, blacks neither like, nor play "Dixieland". Which
is, IMHO working since the early 1950s with black musicians who play what we
know as Dixieland, preposterous.

Dixieland in 1904? Not likely, unless Buddy Bolden played it and he was
really white, passing for black. :-) VBG.

Steve Barbone


More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list