Fête du Jardin Celebrates the Centennial of the First Jazz Recording

Monday, October 16, 2017

Join Louisiana Landmarks Society as we celebrate the centennial of the first jazz recording at our annual Fête du Jardin – highlighted by none other than The Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble.

This year’s “Jazz in the Garden” honors Patricia Gay for her lifetime contribution to preservation. Buy your tickets today!

Did you know…. it’s been exactly 100 years since the first jazz recording? Here’s more…..

1917. The United States entered World War I; Buffalo Bill Cody died and John F. Kennedy was born; and New Orleans Jazz was first recorded and on its way to becoming a worldwide musical phenomenon.

Jazz had emerged from the gritty streets of fin de siècle New Orleans. While a complex fusion of antecedent styles and cultures, it evolved into an entirely new musical art form, characterized by a “good time” improvisational style and distinctive performances that appealed to and meshed with the tastes of a changing America.

By 1917 several jazz bands from New Orleans had left town seeking greater fame and fortune. The New Orleans sound eventually attracted the attention and interest of the musical cognoscenti in Chicago and New York. An even wider audience and commercial success beckoned. On February 26, 1917, “The Original Dixieland Jass Band” from New Orleans recorded “Livery Stable Blues” for the Victor Talking Machine Company, in New York City. Coupled with the “Dixie Jass Band One Step” on the flip side, the record was an instant hit and sold more than one million copies in six months.

These five “Untuneful Harmonists Playing Peppery Melodies”, as the band called themselves, became celebrities almost overnight, and other groups quickly followed with their own releases to capitalize on this craze. Music stores around the country trumpeted the “organized disorganization” of this bold new music, one such store proclaiming that it had the “power and penetration to inject life into a mummy”.

While this emerging sound was not yet fully understood, whether it was called jazz, jass, rag, fox-trot or one-step the critics agreed that it had such “swing”, “punch” and “pep” that it would keep “ordinary human dancers on their feet till breakfast time”. What was understood was that this “raggedest rag” music had quickly changed the music world and in turn the broader American culture, lending its name to the “Jazz Age” and its cultural influence to the “Roaring Twenties”, the exuberant decade that followed its introduction. America would never be the same again.

- Michael Duplantier, 1st Vice President, Louisiana Landmarks Society

The Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble are just back in town from a fabulous tour overseas. Led by clarinetist Fred Starr, this ensemble focuses on turn-of-the century New Orleans jazz. They perform in New Orleans at the Jazz and Heritage Festival and they are now working on a new recording of the forgotten works of Sam Morgan from the 1920’s. Jazz historian Al Rose once called Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble “the most authentic band on the scene today.” If you haven’t heard them, you are in for a real treat!

Jazzed about our Fête du Jardin? Buy your tickets here and join us at the Pitot House, Sunday, October 22, 4 to 7 p.m.