Jazz Diaspora

This chapter concerns New Orleans jazz musicians and how they adapted to new audiences and environments as they traveled. It includes the exploits of William Manuel Johnson's Original Creole Band, a group of Creole and African American musicians from New Orleans that toured the Pantages theater circuit from 1914-1918. By 1915-1916, white bands from New Orleans, such as Tom Brown's Band from Dixieland and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, traveled north to Chicago and New York. In every case, a period of adaptation was required in order to effectively market the New Orleans sound and the dances styles that went with it, all of which were unfamiliar to northern audiences. Once these audiences were properly "initiated," usually by the musicians, the bands became popular, but it was also necessary for them to make some concessions to satisfy their new customers, which meant that the style changed accordingly. Read DeVeaux, Scott, "Constructing the Jazz Tradition," Black American Literature Forum, 25/3 (1991): 525-60 and Sherrie Tucker, "Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies," Current Musicology, 71-73 (spring 2001/ spring 2002), 375-408 (reports due next class).

Tom Brown's Band from Dixieland was a sensation at Lamb's Café in Chicago in 1915 but failed on the vaudeville stage in New York City.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band made the first jazz recording in New York City in February 1917 after achieving success at Schiller's Café in Chicago the previous year.