[Dixielandjazz] OKOM, it don't mean a thing

David W. Littlefield dwlit at cpcug.org
Wed Mar 9 22:13:29 PST 2005

At 10:36 PM 03/09/05 -0500, David Story wrote:
>The arrangement we are using is a transcription from 1932. It is published 
>by Warner brothers through the efforts of jazz a Lincoln Centre and Wynton 
>M. I believe we could call it traditional jazz, 

Hi David.

No question in my mind that late 20s-early 30s Ellington is OKOM--it just
ain't dixieland...

The original stock chart of "It don't mean a thang" is a cover of the
original record with Ivie Anderson. Available from Jim Jones YesterTunes.

I strongly disagree with playing these 3 tunes as conventional 2-beat ala
the charts. They ought to be played as 4-beat and at tempos that make
4-beat more appropriate. If you play 'em 2-beat, you'll castrate 'em.
"Christopher Columbus" is a *groove* tune, and 2-beat don't groove. "It
don't mean a thing" *drives*--if I recall correctly, you can key the tempo
on the dandy sax solo, which really wants 4/4. And "Black bottom stomp" is
a 4-beat butt kicker. 

I had several years experience with stock charts and the drum parts didn't
provide much if any "kick" to the jazz tunes--they pretty much sucked. Best
one could say for the rhythm parts is that at the right tempo the rhythm
section as a unit could convey a 4/4 feel, if it played somewhat
aggressively and with "pop". 


>all the classic elements are 
>there, to quote Marsalis, " this arrangement has historical ties to the 
>oom-pah of the marching band, the left hand of ragtime and the straight two 
>beat feel of the early Broadway musical... while it is felt on beats 1 and 
>3, it features slap bass-accents on 2 and 4...." We dropped the vocal, 
>substituting the jazz violin of Stephan Grapelli. 
>Compare the rhythm section of this piece with "Black Bottom Stomp" 1926 
>Jelly Roll Morton. The rhythm parts are very similar.  Bass in two, drum 
>going om pa (ok, boom chuck). Piano solo is stride left hand throughout.
>The arrangement we procured of Christopher Columbus has the same rhythm set 
>up as the other two, the tempo is different. With careful listening an 
>original recording we rewrote the bass part, abandoning the walking bass to 
>the traditional 2 feel, added a trumpet solo and viola.

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