When Jazz was Jass (1)

On 7 March 1917 the first jazz record ever made was released by Victor Talking Machine Company, which was later acquired by Radio Corporation of America changing its name to “RCA Victor” and, eventually, to simply “RCA”.

The music had been recorded in New York City by The Original Dixieland Jass Band (ODJB) and the release was responsible for starting the jazz craze that swept across the United States.

The Original Dixieland Jass Band was a group of five white musicians who had already played in the “Papa “Jack Laine bands. He was a drummer and saxophonist whose real name was Giorgio Vitale, from Sicily.

The ODJB members were all from New Orleans and two of them were of Italian descent : both Dominick James “Nick” LaRocca, leader and cornetist, and Tony “Spargo” Sbarbaro, drummer; were children of immigrants from the Italian island of Sicily.

The two sides of the 78-rpm disc featured “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixieland Jass Band One-Step”.
“Livery Stable Blues” is an exuberant number which became a nationwide hit, selling a great number of copies.


The trombone, clarinet and cornet imitated various barnyard animals: the clarinet was made to sound like a rooster the cornet whinnied like a horse and a trombone issued a bovine moo.
It was simple music, full of cheerfulness and subversion, however. what was more important was not the content of the song but the fact that it was the first time that jazz had been commercially recorded.

(1. to be continued)

58 thoughts on “When Jazz was Jass (1)

  1. Mi permetto di puntualizzare una cosa a riguardo del MJQ e il “cool” jazz: il MJQ è stato forse tra i primi a voler dare una patina di ufficialità “colta”, di voler conferire una qualche “classicità” al jazz e alle relative esibizioni dal vivo, secondo partiture e modalità che poco si discostano dall’esecuzione “pulita” registrata. Si potrebbe parlare forse di jazz “da camera”, per le esibizioni fatte generalmente da chi perseguiva questo tipo di filosofia esecutiva in posti ben più composti dei club fumosi o dei primi bordelli dove il jazz è nato e ha prosperato. Se non che quando il jazz ti prende, non puoi fare a meno di battere il piedino e agitarti. Tant’è che la famosa “third stream” cioè l’insieme dei tentativi fatti per cercare di fondere la classica col jazz, non hanno mai avuto successo. Falliti miseramente. Il termine “cool jazz” erroneamente interpretato qui da noi come “jazz freddo” cioè quasi senz’anima o coinvolgimento, va fatto risalire a “The birth of the cool” disco fondamentale generato dalla coppia Miles Davis – Gil Evans. In quel disco c’era molto di scritto, ma di sicuro non troppo “freddo”. L’equivoco nasce dal fatto che “cool” nello slang Usa vuol dire “fico” (cioè fresco, recente, in voga adesso). Però ormai il MJQ per tutti era un gruppo di “cool jazz” Chiedo scusa per la digressione (mie opinioni, comunque) e aspetto con ansia il seguito Un saluto. 🙂

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  2. I really enjoyed this I didnt know about it I wished my hhubby GENO was here he certainly would have enjoyed it. there were probably a few things there in the story that even he didn’t know about. thanks again it was lovely to read this 🎷🎺🎹

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      1. 💕💜 LUISA YOUR WORDS MEAN ALOT TO ME 💕💜 I HAD BAD NEWS AT THE EYE DOCTOR ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON SO NOW I WILL NEED SURGERY SOON ON BOTH EYES ,PLEASE KEEP ME IN YOUR PRAYERS I’M AFRAID. 💕💜 LOVE SHARON

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      2. Yes dear I knew there was something wrong with the left eye for a few months I started seeing bright yellow beams of light and one day as we were going to the garage to pick up my car it was there after that terrible accident with the Wind my friend Donald came here and I’m yelling at him to go the wind is too strong it was 65 miles an hour and the back of his truck flew off just missed impailing him by about a half a foot , honest-to-god so many people saw it .I would have just about died if I saw that in front of me . my vehicle was smashed up from that , right in front of my own home and so couple of days later when I had my car repaired at the garage we were going to pick it up everything was covered in bright yellow the grass the sidewalk the building’s I knew something was wrong but I didn’t tend to it that was October and it got worse then it left then it came back so I knew something was wrong but yes the doctor said the left eye that I had the stroke in when I was 35 had a cataract and I had to have surgery very soon, to my surprise he said also the right eye too that really took me by surprise so there will be no one to take care of my animals and when I come back I hear that I can’t bend so I’ll have to wear a patch they have to do the eyes separately of course I’m very worried but I’m hoping God will help us come through one more time but I was meaning to answer your question. take care of my love ❤💜💖💖❤💜

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      3. I’m so sorry to hear that. Surgery is important so don’t worry too much about your furry family 🐈🐈🐈
        Maybe your neighbors could give you a hand … and if they have to stay ouside, the weather, at least here in Italy, is improving. Take care of yourself😘😘😘

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      4. HI LUISA, I HAVE AN OFFER FROM A ATTORNEY FRIEND BY THE OTHER SHARON FOR RIDES TO DOCTORS VISITS AND SHARON’S FATHER AFTER SURGERY HAS SAID HE WILL
        InASSIST IN THE CARE OF MY ANIMALS FEEDING & WATERING AND CLEANING UP . SOOOO THAT’S GOING TO EASE UP MY MIND SOMEWHAT . BUT NO THE ONE’S I ADOPTED BECAME

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  3. Thank you Luisa, more education and on a subject I love. Jazz / Jass with its inspired and intuitive form.
    Have so often wanted to visit New Orleans and just take in music wherever it plays. Sit down, tap your foot, maybe even dance. 😊.
    Thank you for including the first recorded Record, it is amazing to hear.
    Altogether, thanks for all the fascinating things you post. 😘.

    Miriam

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, if you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it. I used to live near New Orleans and I loved walking through the French Quarter and listening to its soundtrack. As music being played on one corner faded out, music from another corner would be fading in. It was one of my very favorite things about being there.

      Liked by 1 person

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