In the society pages in the 1910s: Joe ‘King’ Oliver, Louis Armstrong’s mentor

In the society pages in the 1910s: Joe ‘King’ Oliver, Louis Armstrong’s mentor

A paradox of the early years of jazz in New Orleans is that whereas the native press was repeatedly denouncing the homegrown music, the town’s newspapers had been additionally publishing notices about jazz bands filled with black musicians performing earlier than white society audiences. The phenomenon was notably acute by 1916, the 12 months the phrase jazz (or “jas,” because it was initially spelled regionally) first appeared right here in print, in dispatches about occasions the place influential cornet participant Joe Oliver is assumed to have performed.

Oliver is probably greatest remembered at present for being the bandleader who summoned protege Louis Armstrong, to Chicago in the summertime of 1922, a transfer that finally resulted in Armstrong placing out on his personal and turning into a recording star. Many years later, Armstrong wrote and spoke of Oliver in reverential phrases.

“Nobody had the hearth and the endurance Joe had,” Armstrong wrote in his 1954 autobiography. “Nobody in jazz has created as a lot music as he has. That’s the reason they known as him ‘King,’ and he deserved the title.”

By mid-September 1916, New Orleans newspapers had been working temporary tales about dances held at personal properties and at an Uptown venue not usually related to jazz historical past: the previous Tulane College gymnasium. There was “a subscription dance for members of the school set” on Walnut Road on Sept. 15. On Halloween, there was a dance at a house on Esplanade Avenue. And there have been dances on the Tulane health club in November 1916, in January 1917 and each month or two thereafter nicely into 1918.

The leisure at these dances was the Monocle Band, Joe Oliver’s group. It reportedly took its identify from one among Oliver’s nicknames, given to him due to a large scar over his left eye. (Some sources on jazz historical past have Oliver’s group taking part in subscription dances on the Tulane health club a number of years earlier; on the time, newspaper tales concerning the dances would generally spend extra effort figuring out the committee that deliberate the occasions than the musicians who performed at them.)

The group was often billed as “the well-known Monocle Band” or “Oliver’s Monocle Band,” and the usage of its identify in print beginning in 1916 suggests it had achieved some degree of renown. The lineup of the band at these exhibits is unclear, however Oliver was recognized to have performed with a who’s who of native jazz musicians on this period, together with Sidney Bechet, Peter Bocage, Edward “Child” Ory, Johnny Dodds and Armstrong.

The Monocle Band was a daily on the society pages by way of Could 1918. It was on this 12 months that The Instances-Picayune famously editorialized in opposition to jazz music, writing that “its musical worth is nil, and its potentialities of hurt are nice.” That was additionally the 12 months Oliver left New Orleans for Chicago, though the precise timing of his departure is unsure; presumably it was after Could 12, when he and Child Ory had been scheduled to participate in a battle of the bands of types within the River Parishes.

A Could 5, 1918, story concerning the Joe Oliver and Child Ory band taking part in at picnic upriver from St. Rose together with the Kentucky jazz band from the steamer Sidney. James Karst, NOLA.com | The Instances-Picayune

Simply how many individuals witnessed that efficiency is unclear. The exceptional engagement was to be held throughout a picnic simply in St. Rose, an occasion for members of the Leon Fellman Benevolent Affiliation. The visitors on the celebration took the steamer Sidney from New Orleans to the picnic spot. On board the Sidney was its home orchestra, the so-called Kentucky jazz band, led by Destiny Marable, who sooner or later started utilizing New Orleans musicians together with a teenage Armstrong.

Whether or not Armstrong performed the picnic is unclear, nevertheless it actually appears attainable; by some accounts, he joined Marable’s group in 1918, and he was additionally recognized to play with Ory round this time.

“As an additional deal with the affiliation has engaged the providers of 1 the most effective and most well-known coloured bands within the metropolis, the Olliver [sic] and Ory band,” wrote the States on Could 5, 1918. “A most fascinating program will likely be given as these two bands — the Kentucky jazz and the Olliver and Ory — are going to make use of their greatest efforts to realize essentially the most encores from the dancers. The general public is requested to reap the benefits of the chance.”

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