Personalities | Original Dixieland Jass Band | Early Years | Jazz & Blues

(Instrumental group, 1917–25)

The Original Dixieland Jass Band were five young white musicians from working-class uptown New Orleans – Nick LaRocca (cornet), Larry Shields (clarinet), Eddie Edwards (trombone), Tony Spargo (real name Sbarbaro, drums) and Henry Ragas (piano). All alumni of ‘Papa’ Jack Laine’s stable of bands, they went to Chicago and then to New York, where their music created a sensation. The word ‘jazz’ or ‘jass’ was not spoken in polite circles (it was a slang term for sex), but their frenetic and wild music made it suddenly acceptable.

After making important recordings – including ‘Livery Stable Blues’/‘Dixie Jass One Step’ (1917), the first jazz recording released – and conquering New York society, in 1919 the band went on to a stand in Britain (with Billy Jones on piano), before returning to the US and to further tours and recordings. They disbanded in the mid-1920s but were reunited briefly (with ragtimer J. Russel Robinson on piano) in 1936, making a March Of Time short film and cutting new recordings of the ODJB standards, including ‘Clarinet Marmalade’, ‘Skeleton Jangle’ and ‘Original Dixeland One-Step’. They also recorded with a large swing band backing them.

Styles & Forms | Early Years | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Kid Ory | Early Years | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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