Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Military bands and OKOM

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at
Thu Jun 30 14:39:01 PDT 2005

Dixieland originated in the early 1900's but military bands of the late
1800's did leave music.  John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) "The March King"  was
the most famous of the group performing in the 1890's through WW1(U.S.
Marine Band, U.S Navy Band) and we still perform the original arrangements.
Washington post, Semper Fidelis and our national march the Stars and Stripes
Forever just to name a few.  There are still about 50 of his marches and
other works regularly performed.  It's a question of what came first the
chicken or egg in this case Military march music exists from that time and
is still regularly played as is Dixie from the early 1900's. That's how we
know how it sounded.

Sousa was contemporary with the rise of Dixieland and was as famous as any
rock star of today.  His music was sold and played nationwide so it's only
logical that New Orleans musicians would be familiar with his music just as
musicians today are familiar with let's say Glenn Miller or Witney Houston.

Coming out of military bands,  the military musicians would have been very
familiar with Sousa and his arrangements and the basic structure of his
music as well and it would have been natural for them to use their
instruments in the same way.

Dixie didn't grow in a vacuum, there were things that influenced it such as
Ragtime.  The voicing and the way that they used their instruments is right
out of Sousa and Military bands but the rhythms are pure ragtime.  The use
of  blues and the solo was something entirely new.

As far as I know no military band in this country ever had banjo's as any
sort of primary instrument or took part as part of the primary mission.
There is only one that I know of today and that's the Band of the Rocky
Mountains stationed at Spokane Washington.  They have a regular performing
Dixie band but this is not the bands primary mission and is a secondary
group.  The only other one is 571 st AF band who had a Dixie band for about
a year about 8 years ago and again it was a secondary group to the main
concert and jazz groups.

The only group that has lots of banjos are the Mummers.  I saw them once
with about 30 accordions 20-30 alto saxes and about 50 banjos marching in a
parade.  Now that's a sound that will give you nightmares.  It sounded like
a giant bee coming down the street..

Larry - St. Louis
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Farrell" <stridepiano at>
To: "LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing" <sign.guy at>;
"Graham Martin" <grahmartin at>; <dixielandjazz at>
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2005 12:43 PM
Subject: RE: Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Military bands and OKOM

> This from Larry :
> "It doesn't take much listening to Dixieland to see the similarities
> Military bands of the 1800's and Dixieland."
> I know almost nothing about this subject, but remember listening to a
> recording on one of Dave Reffkin's SF ragtime radio shows of a huge
> band (containing millions of banjos!) under the direction of James Reese
> Europe. By golly, that outfit could really kick ass. One intriguing point
> arises from Larry's post - how is it possible to compare an 1800's band to
> Dixieland when no recordings of the former exist?
> John Farrell

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