[Dixielandjazz] Darktown Strutters Ball - Redux?
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 14 15:00:56 PST 2005
Here is some more conjecture about Darktown. The Composer, Shelton Brooks
was the child of one Native American, and one African American parent to be
politically correct. (Or half Negro and Half Indian for the politically
incorrect) and was born in Canada.
The below is from a biography on the web. It seems from this version of the
inspiration, the Whores were the subject, and mighty proud of it. :-) VBG
Like we all know, or should, Jazz was mostly about Sex. Note also that
Jameds Reece Europe's black "Hellfighter band recorded it in 1919.
Why then, should anyone be offended now?
Brooks's most famous song was Darktown Strutter's Ball. Published in 1917
and introduced to the public on record by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band,
it became an instant success. The story behind the song according to
Geoffrey Brooks was that:
" there was a formal dance held in Chicago once a year for those who you
might say "practiced the oldest profession in the world" and their
associates. Each year they dressed in the proper attire of tall hats,coats
and tails, and spats. This was their night that they suffered no oppression
and were not bothered very much if at all by the local authorities. It was
if they were ignored and as long as "they" were all in one place,no bother!
Granted these people did have some clout of their own and were the pride of
their people,even though some of them were practicing illegal moonlighting
in their illicit affairs after their day jobs. It was a marvelous occasion
looked forward to each year by thousands and to be a guest was by all means
a pride of honor. In their minds, they were (and who could disagree) the
bottom of the social ladder. But with the likes a Shelton Brooks, Fats
Waller and some of the most talented musicians to grace one place in one
night would be a great honor in any human book. "
The song has been recorded countless times since on the way to becoming one
of the first standards in Jazz.One of the most unique recordings was in 1919
by Lieutenant James Reese Europe's 369th Infantry Band.
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