[Dixielandjazz] Nick LaRocca & Bix
D and R Hardie
darnhard at ozemail.com.au
Mon Oct 9 21:25:28 PDT 2006
There is nothing new in the rather one sided document at the web site
Bill referred to, though it is very interesting to hear Nick La Rocca’s
La Rocca's claims to have invented jazz are well known and supported
over the years by a number of researchers including the celebrated
discographer Brian Rust.
More recently New Orleans researcher and musician Dr Jack Stewart has
devoted time and energy to analysing La Rocca’s contribution to jazz
as described in articles published in the Jazz Archivist - the Journal
of the Hogan Jazz Archive at New Orleans Tulane University.
In the latest issue he deals with the La Rocca claim in an objective
fashion, free of any prejudgement as to the primacy of black or white
In a previous article, Stewart pointed out many
similarities between Nick La Rocca and another claimant to the title
of inventor of jazz, Jelly Roll Morton, who he called ‘The strangest
It’s hard to support the statement on the web site that La
Rocca’s claim to have transformed Tiger Rag is somehow more credible
that that of Morton since Morton demonstrated the source of his
transformation on the Alan Lomax Library of Congress disk.
Jelly Roll (1902) and Nick La Rocca (1917) were not the only ones who
claimed to have invented Tiger Rag. White band leader Alex King Watzke
(ca 1905) claimed the honour and called it No 2. Black bandleader Jack
Carey (ca 1913) also claimed to have invented it calling it Play Jack
Carey. Other witnesses said it had been around a long time and often
referred to it as Nigger No 2.
Stalebread Lacoume also claimed to have invented jazz.
Interestingly both Morton and La Rocca used the same argument to
dispose of the claims of earlier performers. Morton said Buddy Bolden
did not play jazz, but was a ragtime player. La Rocca said all the New
Orleans musicians before his Original Dixieland Jazz Band played only
ragtime. Numerous other witnesses disagreed stating that Buddy Bolden,
or Jack Laine or Lacoume’s Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band were performing what
we now call jazz well before 1900.
Perhaps Morton and La Rocca both honestly thought they invented jazz,
but my researches suggest the story goes back at least as early as 1893
and possibly earlier. Jack Stewart argues persuasively that it evolved
over a period of thirty years and I’m inclined to agree.
Check out the web site:
On Monday, October 9, 2006, at 08:10 PM, Bill Haesler wrote:
> Dear friends,
> This lot (new to me) via my mate Denis King (Australian Dance Band
> and this new CD site.
> Kind regards,
> Dixielandjazz mailing list
> Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
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