[Dixielandjazz] the "Dixieland" strand

john petters johnpetters at tiscali.co.uk
Sat Jan 22 09:23:02 PST 2005

Charles said
>Another common charge is that Dixieland jazz--even as an evolved genre, 
whether played by black, white, or integrated bands--is facile and
formulaic. Ralph Collins' 1996 book illustrates this bias with a 
vengeance. His broad brush paints the entire Dixieland jazz genre as
crap.  Ensemble choruses are "collective improvisation, which is a 
euphemistic way of saying every man for himself."  Inbetween such 
is " . . . an assembly of individual soloists held together by loud 
mechanical-sounding drum and cymbal beats. . . Creativity is not 
in such a methodical musical setting, indeed it might prove deleterious 
. . . each man plays fortissimo, as loud as possible.  Artistry is out 
place here and originality a definite handicap."  Of course, Collins' 
description is true of some groups but it fails scandalously to 
>excellent Dixieland bands and musicians of the past and present.

Ralph Collins has obviously not listened to the music.
For example, on Thursday I took my six piece band to Laines Barn, a
wonderful old building in Oxfordshire to play a Kid Ory tribute concert. 

Guitarist, Dave Moorwood, who booked us for the session was invited to play
with us. He had both banjo and guitar, but the banjo remained in its case. 

We had Martin Litton on an upright piano. Acoustic double bass, (Keith
Donald) Cuff Billett, trumpet, Mike Pointon, trombone and young James Evans
on clarinet. 

We had one microphone which was switched off while the band was playing. The
guitar took several solos, which meant that I had to play very quiet press
rolls in order for him to be heard. Same with the piano. 

We played a lot of ensemble choruses, some of which were very quiet indeed.
This enabled us to really go for it in the ride out chorus. 

I will leave it for others to judge the artistry or originality, but there
was certainly a large dynamic range. It can be done and is very effective. 

When I announced that we were going to play acoustically, many people
cheered and several expressed the view that it was good to hear the real
sound of the instruments rather than the altered sound via a pa system.

John Petters
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ

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