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The Creation of Jazz in New Orleans

Adapted from Tulane University HISU 4694-01

In consulting virtually any survey text on jazz history, one finds a chapter devoted to jazz origins in New Orleans, sometimes with a disclaimer stating that “jazz-like” music was also developing in other locales, although this point of view is becoming increasingly rare. Note, for instance, this passage from Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux, Jazz (2009): “in the beginning, jazz was local, even provincial-a performing tradition unique to the port city of New Orleans, which took its distinctive character from the ever-changing social conditions of that metropolis. The style known as New Orleans jazz (or Dixieland) proved irresistible enough to attract the attention of the whole country, but only in increments as it wandered north of its home base. New Orleans jazz ultimately became the foundation of jazz itself.” This course will explore the issue of the creation of jazz in New Orleans from the perspectives of regional cultural dynamics in the period 1894-1950 and related historiography, including neighborhood demographics and race, festival traditions and performance sites, and music pedagogy. Special attention will be given to the seminal artists and bands that contributed to the development of this new vernacular musical idiom and disseminated it throughout the nation and the world, as well as to the jazz historians who have told their stories through an evolving jazz historiography. Through readings, lectures, and discussions, class participants will test the “born in New Orleans” theory by tracing the development of historical paradigms relating to the primacy of New Orleans style jazz and by considering alternative origins theories.

Course PDF

Bruce Raeburn

Director of Special Collections and Curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive

Bruce Boyd Raeburn is the Director of Special Collections and Curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University and is a specialist on the history of New Orleans jazz. He is the author of New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History (University of Michigan Press, 2009), has contributed to The Oxford Companion to Jazz and other publications, and has served as a consultant and appeared in various media projects, including “Ken Burns’ Jazz” and Don McGlyn’s “Louis Prima—The Wildest.” Raeburn has performed as a drummer in New Orleans for the past 39 years, with artists such as James Booker, Earl King, Clark Vreeland, and the Pfister Sisters.

Course Chapters

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    Chapter 1: New Orleans as a Music City: This class explores the colonial and 19th c. musical antecedents to jazz, from…

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    This chapter covers the cultural implications of 'crazy quilt' demographics and cultural dynamics in Tremé, the lower French Quarter, the Seventh…

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    This class focuses on trumpeter Buddy Bolden as a symbol of cultural change. "Great Man theory" posits the role of individuals…

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    Benevolent Associations, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, and "second lines." This class period will entail presentation and discussion of the film…

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    This class includes discussion of various instrumentations and community-based functions prevalent in New Orleans jazz bands and brass bands, closely examining…

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    Despite mythologies about jazz as continuous spontaneous improvisation generated by critics in the 1930s, in New Orleans the music evolved from…

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    Jazz benefited greatly from the movement of musicians into the city from the countryside and vice versa, when music "professors" such…

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    This chapter concerns New Orleans jazz musicians and how they adapted to new audiences and environments as they traveled. It includes…

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    This chapter begins the section on jazz historiography, including defining the parameters of what has been called the "New Jazz Studies."…

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    This chapter concentrates on historiography related to New Orleans as the site of origin and includes discussion of representations of race…

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    This chapter investigates the incipience, development, and influence of the "Hot" record collecting community in the United States and Europe during…

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    In consulting virtually any survey text on jazz history, one finds a chapter devoted to jazz origins in New Orleans, sometimes…

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    This final chapter considers New Orleans jazz history as a "Jazz Continuum" and looks at the dynamics through which tradition and…