New Orleans Jazz: 1915-1930

In its original heyday, early New Orleans jazz bands, while conforming to the same basic parameters of the style, cultivated individual sounds. The earlier bands, such as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, the Sam Morgan Jazz Band, and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, engaged in interactive, collective improvising derived from the parade bands and from the collective singing of black sanctified churches. In this highly distinctive style, sometimes referred to as "Classic New Orleans Jazz," the music of parade and church was adapted to uninhibited dancing. As jazz spread across the United States, touring New Orleans bands began to adopt a more theatrical, extroverted style-known as "hot" jazz in the 20's — to appeal to northern audiences The most conspicuous among these bands were Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers and Louis Armstrong's Hot 7. Morton, a jazz piano virtuoso, composed original tunes and brilliant, intricate arrangements for his 7-piece ensemble that represent the first jazz compositions. Louis Armstrong, the first great trumpet soloist in jazz, adapted the classic New Orleans style to his brilliant virtuoso solos and his genius for inspired melody. Another great virtuoso melodist was the creole clarinetist/saxophonist, Sidney Bechet, who, like Armstrong pursued a career as a jazz soloist. Both musicians made a major impact on the Paris jazz scene of the 1920's (Le Jazz Hot) and both have a Parisian street named for them.