[Dixielandjazz] Creating and Recreating

dingle at baldwin-net.com dingle at baldwin-net.com
Tue Sep 20 11:10:00 PDT 2005

Vaxtrpts at aol.com wrote:

>In a message dated 9/20/2005 8:23:30 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
>dixielandjazz-request at ml.islandnet.com writes:
>How is  this relevant to enjoying OKOM? You professional jazz people have
>your own  brand of tunnel vision: when you put down mouldy figgism, you
>ignore the  fact that the music the dead guys recorded had its own aesthetic
>validity  that exists regardless of what they might have done later in life,
>and  therefore will grab 
>some folks who listen to music purely to enjoy it and  others who play music
>for enjoyment.
>David W. Littlefield,  Piano, Guitar, Banjo, Washboard  
>Ah, David, you hit the proverbial "nail on the head!"  The "dead guys"  
>played it GREAT!
>By just recreating something that will never be done as well as the  original 
>players did it, you are in my opinion, doing a disservice to their  legacy.  
>THEY would not have wanted their music recreated note for  note.  
>I know for a fact -- after hanging out with people like Louis Cotrell, Frog  
>Joseph, Sweet Emma Barrett, Placide Adams, Percy Humphrey, Freddy Kohlman,  
>Wallace Davenport, Pappa French, Alvin Alcorn, and many others during  my time 
>in New Orleans more than 25 years ago, that they were always  searching for new 
>ways to play the music that they had been playing for so  long.  They didn't 
>just want to recreate what they had done 40 - 50  years earlier and they 
>didn't want to hear younger guys like me do it  either.
>I love this music because of the freedom it gives the musician to "be their  
>own person."
>If you want to recreate old music, then that is your prerogative.  And  I am 
>sure that you do it well, and that you have an audience that will  listen.  I 
>just don't feel that it should be called "Jazz."  The term  I like to use for 
>that kind of playing is "Early 20th century American popular  music."  That is 
>NOT a put down, it just describes the kind of music you  are playing.  As I 
>said before, for ME -- in order for it to be called jazz  music, there needs to 
>be creativity and improvisation.
>Mike Vax
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
I found your mention of Freddie Kohlman most welcome. Freddie was not 
only a good friend but a fellow member of the Chicago Jazz Ltd. House 
Band in the '60's. I worked with Freddie for several years there until 
he moved back home to N.O.  Freddie loved to fish and so did I and on 
our Thursday nights off, we would end the Wednesday sets, then jump in a 
car and drive around the lake to Michigan to fish a couple little lakes 
there that were good for bass and pan fish. Freddie would take our 
collected catch home and cook up a batch of fillet gumbo, adding shrimp 
and other N.O. ingredients,  then on Sunday (the other night off) we 
would head for his place on the south side and where Jean (my wife) and 
Roz, Freddie's wife would add other side dishes and we would eat until 
we were ready to burst. I have long missed those days.
I had met Freddie years earlier when I played the old Roosevelt with 
Weems band and Jean and I were married there  -- 50 years ago this 
November. Freddie played with a good little band at Sid DaVilla's Mardi 
Gras Lounge in the Quarter. Eight years later we shared the same stand 
in Chicago, something not allowed in N.O. at that time of segregation.
When he was replaced by Barrett Deems, the rhythm section changed very 
much, but the band still played the mix of Chicago and N.O. jazz that 
was its mainstay for a quarter century.  The band merely adjusted to the 
change in drumming style and continued to play solidly together. The 
same happened when trombonist Dave Rasbury left and was replaced by Jim 
Beebe. The front line merely adjusted and went on doing what it did 
quite well. Adjustment is the key, and that includes evolution of styles 
over time.
In this same time period I was arranging for a number of bands and wrote 
charts that were used by  the Happy Jazz Band (now Jim Cullum's jazz 
band) and ranged to backup charts for vocalists that sang rock and roll, 
blues, cabaret, pop and other styles. While some of the styles might not 
be my cup of tea, the fact is that a musician these days has to be 
flexible enough to meet what the market wants in music.
These days I make the bill paying money by editing a magazine, writing 
for several others, and doing weekly newspaper columns for a publication 
group-- none of these at all about jazz. But I adapted to what had to be 
done in a game of survival. Today, when I play it is usually in
a Chicago Jazz style because I am comfortable in it -- why not, I am 
Chicago born. But I have worked in many styles of music because it paid 
the bills when I was still mainly in music. (I'll admit that being a 
freelance musician and a freelance writer means sharing the same threats 
-- the wolf, if not the whole pack - is always at the door.)
I can understand some of the listees' concern that not much of the early 
N.O. jazz was featured. I found my main objection to any part of the 
program were the political views -- finger pointing if you will - being 
put forth at times. There is blame enough to go around, but right now it 
seems more important into focus on getting the aid needed than it  is to 
play the blame game. The importance of getting the help needed for the 
victims rather than starting up political  bickering over who is to 
blame is job number one. First things first - get the help, bring in the 
resources and do what need to be done now. Time to squabble over fault 
Other than that I found the program to be well done. While I   would 
have enjoyed a little more salute content to the early jazz pioneers, 
there were some wonderful moments of what is happening now in jazz.
Okay -- Sermons or homilies outside of church are a pain in the ass -- 
so I'll stop mine now.
Don Ingle

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