[Dixielandjazz] Help! What IS "sissified jazz"?

David Richoux tubaman at tubatoast.com
Tue Jun 14 15:08:19 PDT 2005

I think there is one big exception to this category - the Royal Society 
Jazz Orchestra. (there may be others on the East Coast or So Cal but I 
have only heard them on CD. RSJO can take on the most complicated 
swinging Ellington, a corn-ball novelty tune, or anything in-between 
and make a great song out of it. They have a huge repertoire, great 
stage presence and a feel for historical (yet fun) aspects of OKOM. 
They have played at a lot of festivals since the 1970s and the also 
have a fairly good year-round booking (hard to do with an 11 piece band 
with vocal trio and gal singer.)

Maybe you can tell that I like 'em?  I even hired them to play at my 

Dave Richoux
On Jun 14, 2005, at 12:27 PM, Charles Suhor wrote:

> And David Littlefield wrote:
>> ...The body of tunes being referred to are 2-beat pop semi-novelty 
>> pap like
>> "Singing in the bathtub", "My canary has circles under his eyes". 
>> These
>> were played by the dance orchestras of the latter 20s-early 30s.
>> They ain't hardly jazz. But they can be a nice changeup for older 
>> dancers,
>> who'll also get a kick out of the lyrics.
> There's a species of bands that reads vintage arrangements from this 
> eras and earlier as a specialization. The music is of historical 
> interest and it's admirable when they strive for authentic 
> reproduction. I get the fantods, though, if they call it "jazz." Most 
> of it is ragtime based in the articulation, with few improvised solos 
> but lots of zippy syncopations that lived on for decades in the Mickey 
> bands. Outside of the historical context, this would be call "corn" if 
> peddled by a jazz player today. I wish we could own up to "corn" as a 
> style of playing, but the term has so many negative associations that 
> folks want to fall back on the "jazz" label for stuff like Spike Jones 
> and earlier, Boyd Senter. Yes, many really fine jazzers played with 
> both, but they knew the difference between the campy stuff and what 
> happens at a jam session.
> Finally, all of these things are a matter of degree, I think. Some 
> very good bands have weak players, some poor bands have a fine jazzer 
> or two, some Dixieland groups integrate corn and your "sissy" novelty 
> tunes, etc. My mantra is to listen to what might be of jazz interest 
> in such groups, and leave the room or jump to the next CD tdreack if 
> it's not working for me.

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