Dixieland and Ragtime


Ragtime is unique in that it didn’t include improvisation or a blues feel. And yet, it was an influence on early jazz forms, coming along as it did during the first 15 years of the 20th century. Primarily a music for piano that was completely written out, it could be performed by orchestras, and represented a blend of classical and marching band influences with a zest of syncopation thrown in. Listen to the music of Scott Joplin for a taste of ragtime.

Dixieland is a style that could be considered a variant of classic jazz and New Orleans jazz. It’s real roots as a musical form stem from the Chicago music jazz scene of the 1920s. The musicians in essence were seeking a revival of the classic jazz and New Orleans jazz of yesteryear, and were quite successful in beginning a tradition of Dixieland revivals that continue to this day, thanks to subsequent generations. The first of such re-revivals took place during the 1940s. Pioneers of Dixieland included such artists such as guitarist Eddie Condon, saxophonist Bud Freeman and trumpeter Jimmy McPartland.

The style of Dixieland involved collective improvisation during the first chorus of playing, with players entering solos against riffing by other horns, followed by a closing ensemble with, usually, the drummer playing a four-bar tag who in turn is answered by the whole band. Unlike other forms of jazz, the song set for Dixieland musicians has remained rather limited, offering endless variations on themes of tunes first developed during the ‘10s years of the 20th century.

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May 2017
José James
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