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A First Look Back - New Orleans Revival

Throughout the 1940's, Swing and BeBop continued to forge their respective paths toward the future. Almost as a counterpoint to this, a jazz revival began in earnest, focused mainly on the music of New Orleans from the early 1900's. As in BeBop, the New Orleans combo was smaller than the Swing band, but played music more closely related to Swing than Bop. The style once called Dixieland used a banjo, tuba, drums rhythm section (sometimes including piano, playing a steady 2 or 4 beat pulse), and a cornet, clarinet, trombone lead section, which improvised around the melody in a theme and variations format.

The New Orleans revival took two main forms: the rediscovery of established artists, and the imitation of arrangements, usually by young white middle class musicians. Rediscovered artists included Kid Rena, Kid Ory, and trumpeter Bunk Johnson. A group of writers, researching the first historical jazz study Jazzmen [Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1939], found Johnson working in a rice field outside New Iberia, Louisiana. Interest in the elderly gentleman eventually led to a New York opening on September 28, 1945 at the Stuyvesant Casino in Manhattan's Lower East Side. A small group of writers loudly proclaimed this to be the last pure jazz band, and began a battle between jazz purists and progressives which is still with us today.

The new artists revitalizing the music, now decades old, included the Castle Band, specialists in Jelly Roll Morton's arrangements, Bob Wilber Band, copiers of King Oliver, and Lu Walters and his Yerba Buena band, who recorded King Oliver arrangements as early as 1941. According to historian Marshall Stearns in The Story Of Jazz [p. 215], these recordings were an important catalyst in the popularity and direction of the revival.

Musicians like Eddie Condon, owner of his own New York club, developed a style of Dixieland more influenced by the Swing music of the time, as did Phil Napoleon, Jimmy McPartland, Peewee Irwin and Muggsy Spanier. The revival even reached South America, Asia and Europe, where the French band of Claude Luter was said to have captured the King Oliver sound better than any of the American bands. From this point forward, the process of revitalization and renewal continued with each previously established style, and Jazz became an encompassing description of a multitude of sub-styles, each with its own unique characteristics.    [top]
- article by Frank Singer 2002




Jazz Origins
I - Beginnings 
II - Jazz and Technology
III - Radio and the Industrial Beat    
The Swing Era
I - Precursors
II - The Decade of Swing
III - The BeBop Strain
A First Look Back
New Orleans Revival

Jazz Forms

The Blues
The 32 bar Song Form
The Latin Influence
Hard Bop
Evolution 1 - A New Dialogue
Evolution 2 - Into The Seventies
Evolution Of The Jam Session
Post Modernism


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