Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Walter Kingsley and the Cuban Tinge - Ill-considered Trifles

Walter Kingsley and the Cuban Tinge
                                  Ill-considered Trifles

                                                                                                                Daniel Hardie

“Jazz enthusiasts – myself among them – clung to a new and misleading dichotomy between jazz and “commercial” styles, though in fact the tension between personal vision and popular taste has created as many masterpieces as it has spoiled, in all idioms.”
                                                      John Storm Roberts[1]

In a previous paper I drew attention to the need to view historical evidence within the social and intellectual context of its time and place.[2] In the past, personal accounts of witnesses have sometimes perplexed jazz historians writing remote in time from the evidence they uncover, leading to misinterpretation or exclusion from the approved historical narrative. Others have been bypassed or ignored because they did not appear congruent with other evidence or received opinion.
In what was to be the first history of jazz published in the United States Herbert Osgood wrote of the origins of jazz:
“It looks as if the blame might squarely be placed upon the shoulders of New Orleans, though the same Walter Kingsley quoted in the first chapter lightens New Orleans’ burden by claiming that jazz ‘has flourished for hundreds of years in Cuba and Haiti, and New Orleans derived it from there.’”[3]
Kingsley was in his time considered an expert on jazz.  Here’s what the New York Sun wrote of him in February 1919:
 “Mr. Kingsley is the most profound authority on jazz, which has swept over this country and is now invading Europe. Maurice is now teaching the shimmy dance in Paris to Jazz music to French pupils. Mr. Kingsley has interviewed every artist of the Keith circuits who might have been by way of picking up any information on the subject and they have brought back to the Palace Theatre much light on a topic that has mystified the lighter musical authorities. The importance of "jazz" may be understood from the degree to which it has supplanted the earlier and simpler syncopation we knew as ragtime.”[4]
Walter J. Kingsley was a press agent for the Palace Theatre N.Y. and it has been suggested that his 1917 article Whence Comes Jazz[5] was fictional and crassly aimed at promoting a client - the Broadway promoter Florenz Ziegfeld.[6] (It seems Kingsley did not become press agent for Ziegfeld until 1928.[7])  He styled himself also as “head of the bureau of research of the B. F. Keith Vaudeville Circuit”. His historiography has largely gone unremarked by later historians.

Fig1. Above: Headline from NY Sun August 5 1917

Kingsley not only proposed a theory of origins for the word jazz/jass but also offered a narrative accounting for the dissemination of the music itself. Put simply, jazz came to New Orleans from Cuba but first entered New York popular entertainment directly from Cuba to New York show business. Later, New Orleans musicians brought it to public attention, first performing in Chicago and New York and via the powerful new  medium of the phonograph.
The original article[8] was subsequently republished, in part, in The Literary Digest entitled The Appeal of the Primitive Jazz (25th August 1917) and  in  the NY Sun on 4th  November 1917 in an article by F.T.Vreeland - Jazz Ragtime By-product, Revives a Lost Art of Rhythm. A further article by Kingsley appeared in the Sun in February 1919 that incorporated a wider range of data about the music’s arrival from New Orleans after 1914. Each of the reissues was supplemented with further additions amplifying the argument and incorporating later events.
 Here is what he wrote about the origins:
“Now let me tell you when jazz music was first heard on the Great Wine Way [9]. I forgot to tell you that it has flourished for hundreds of years in Cuba and Hayti, and of course New Orleans derived it from there…”
This posits the origins of jazz in Cuba and Haiti and then associates its appearance in the  US with the commercial Vaudeville Theatre of the early 1900’s, a proposal far from congruent with the received theory of origins derived from jazz histories written after 1930.
Inadequacies in the received narrative have become apparent in recent times. Caribbean musicologists[10] have remarked on this phenomenon:
 “In framing jazz as an exclusively North American phenomenon rather than part of broader hemispheric artistic trends, the mainstream jazz community may have created fundamental obstacles for itself in terms of such historiography. Substantial documentation exists about musical forms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America that were contemporary with and preceded early jazz. Music from Cuba, Haiti, and Mexico, especially, represent central components of New Orleans music, of course, and a significant undercurrent of jazz scholarship as early as the 1950s and 1960s has argued that such influences be considered more central to its development.”[11]
Madrid and Moore contend that failure to consider the musical environment surrounding New Orleans led to the conclusion that jazz emerged in New Orleans by an “act of spontaneous creation”.

Musical Influences

Its not accurate to say that the so called Latin American influences on New Orleans music have been totally neglected by researchers of early jazz history. In particular New Orleans historian Jack Stewart has written a number of works on the so-called Latin Tinge including a detailed examination of Cuban influences on New Orleans Music. He concluded that:
“…New Orleans and Cuban vernacular musics at the turn of the century had many similar elements, but that the elements were utilized in different ways-producing finished products that were related but not the same. As both musics matured they borrowed additional elements from each other and for a while became more similar, specifically in the dance music of the late 1920's. However, later forms in both locations began to grow in different directions and the similarities began to diminish.”[12]
Writing in 1917 Kingsley’s perspective was quite different from that of jazz historians of the 1930s. He was writing in an environment of rapid musical change. Something called Jazz had only come to the attention of industry sources after 1914, but, unlike later writers, the change was taking place around him, and he had access and exposure, to the players, the employers, audiences, and critics. Little had accumulated but oral history. Indeed, jazz was a word that had just joined the language. In that respect he had an advantage over succeeding critics. (It might reasonably be said that an intelligent eyewitness probably understands his own time better than any later historian). Kingsley also brought to the task the attitudes and values of his era reflected in his journalistic diction.[13] He was also close to the mechanisms that drove the commercial music industry – an industry powered by novelty. In 1917 that novelty was jazz.’
But what of his historiography? Not only did he suggest that jazz had been in Cuba for a over century he described the very incident that he said led to its importation to the New York Stage at the suggestion of the renowned twin Hungarian dancers the Dolly Sisters.
The Dolly Sisters performed a highly successful dance act on the vaudeville stage. They toured Cuba as early as 1906/1907, where they were very popular and became known as "Las Munecas  Americanas" or "The Little American Dolls".

Fig.2 Above: the Dolly Sisters (Centre front) at the 1916                Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic

The Dolly Sisters also performed in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1911 and 1912 and in the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolics of 1916 and 1918. In his first 1917 article Kingsley described an incident that occurred  while preparing  for Ziegfeld’s January 1916 Midnight Frolic at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Ziegfeld asked performers to find a novelty to spice up the show. Kingsley wrote  that the Dolly sisters suggested that they heard a “funny kind of music’ in Cuba that made them dance frantically.  Unable to find a local composer to write similar music for him Ziegfeld arranged for a Victor Co. recording unit to record a Cuban Orchestra in Havana and used the recording to open the Midnight Frolic, with the Dolly Sisters dancing to the recorded accompaniment. Kingsley averred it was ‘canned jazz’ though they did not know it at the time. 

The Frolic opened on 24th January 1916 and also starred Marion Harris, Sybil Carmen and Comedian Will Rogers.  The story goes that, apparently encouraged by the result, Ziegfeld  hired an orchestra of black musicians to support the entertainment in 1917 - Ford Dabney’s Orchestra - an off-shoot of James Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra.
Interestingly, from 1904 to 1907 Ford Dabney was the official court musician to President Noro Alexis of Haiti[14] so he should have had some experience of Afro Cuban/Haitian Music. Apparently Ziegfeld eventually thought the Dabney group too monotonous and dispensed with its services.

Contacts between Cuba and New Orleans

Jack Stewart and others have shown that there was continuous musical interchange between Cuba and New Orleans during the late 18th and 19th centuries but what has not been clear among jazz histories is the extent to which Cuba had experience of performers from the US. In fact Cuba imported US performers from an early date.
As early as 1854 the New Orleans composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk performed on the island and he made numerous tours throughout the Caribbean and South America. It is clear from his compositions that he was deeply influenced by the music of Cuba and the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and South America.
Vaudeville too made its appearance in Havana. In 1903/4, for example, the Black Patti Troubadours led by the celebrated concert  star, soprano Sissieretta Joyner Jones, played in Havana. Jones toured widely through the West Indies, South America, Europe and Britain.

Fig. 3 Above: Sissieretta Joyner Jones the ‘Black Patti’

Mme. Jones had been very successful on the concert stage and at some point she became known as the ‘Black Patti’ – a soubriquet created by the press to suggest a voice comparable with that of the European Prima Donna Adelina Patti. (1843/1919). In 1896 she formed her own Grand Concert Company that became known as ‘The Black Patti Troubadours’ and one of the most successful black road shows.

 Fig.4 Above: the Black Patti Troubadours

      The Troubadours travelled to Havana in 1904 and performed at the Grand Tacon Theatre on 19/21 March. It was reported that their receipts were greater than those of the Grand Italian Opera Company, Sarah Bernhardt and even Adelina Patti, who had earlier toured Cuba with Gottschalk.[15]
There is no doubt that The Dolly Sisters performed in Cuba in 1906 nor that the Victor Company made recordings in Havana. But what was it that was heard and recorded  there?

The Orquestas Tipicas

Popular dance music in Cuba between 1906 and 1915 was commonly performed by mixed instrument groups called Orquestas Tipicas.
Orquestas Tipicas consisted of strings, brass and winds and usually 2 tympani (timbales[16]). One of the earliest was the Orquesta Flor De Cuba comprising 2 Violins, cornet, clarinet, flute, trombone, baritone horn, and  2 timbales.
Perhaps the best known of these groups  was Orquesta Valenzuela that recorded about 40 cylinder discs with Edison in 1906, 23 with Columbia in 1909 and 56 with Victor. It is possible that this was the orchestra that Victor recorded for Ziegfeld.

  Fig. 5 Above: Orquesta Flor de Cuba

Trombonist Raimundo Valenzuela performed in the Orquesta Flor de Cuba. He took over the leadership and it  became the Orquesta  Raimundo Valenzuela. It’s leadership was assumed by his cornetist brother Pablo after his death in 1905 and it became the Orquesta de Pablo Valenzuela that recorded for Edison, Columbia, and Victor.

Fig.6 Above: Raimundo (L) and Pablo Valenzuela (R)

Between 1906 and 1915 these Orquestas Tipicas performed the Danzon, a Cuban dance form that descended from the earlier Spanish Contradanza – a multi section dance format not unlike the Quadrilles common in turn of the century New Orleans. Apparently they also performed some march-time numbers and it was common to borrow sections from other compositions to fill out danzon performances:
“Borrowing themes from pre-existing music and incorporating them into danzones became common practice beginning in the 1880s. Since the danzon achieved wide popularity among all sectors of society by the end of that decade, composers appropriated melodies from diverse sources including operas or symphonic music, traditional Afro-Cuban melodies (rumbas, carnival songs), guarachas and boleros, even foreign melodies from Spain, the United States, or elsewhere. The danzon's sectional form and use of contrasting multiple themes made this sort of appropriation easy. Raimundo Valenzuela (see Fig. 2.3) appears to have been the First arranger to adopt the technique, followed in short order by Enrique Pena, Felipe Valdés, Félix Cruz, and others. Early examples of such melodic borrowing are found in two distinct Raimundo Valenzuela danzones, both entitled “El Negro Bueno." 'The original song he took inspiration from, a guaracha by journalist and blackface stage actor Francisco “Pancho” Valdés.”[17]
Regrettably while there is an ample supply of recordings of contemporary Cuban ensembles no recordings of New Orleans orchestras have survived from the developmental period of Elemental Jazz between 1897 and 1917 despite the existence of recording facilities in the city.[18] It appears that Buddy Bolden’s Orchestra did make at least one cylinder recording but it has not survived.
How similar were  the danzon  and  the Elemental Jazz of the Bolden Era? Direct musical comparisons would appear difficult. Historian Charles Suhor suggested the following criteria for identifying significant influence of Latin and other musics on early jazz:
a. There must be a musicological likeness
b. There must at some time have been a close physical proximity of the musicians with early jazz players and/or their immediate ancestors
c. There should hopefully be some archived testimony from the early jazz players
d. Anecdotal accounts can validly be part of c., but for credibility there should be some volume of quotes on a topic.[19]

Musical Likeness

   Here is how Madrid and Moore summarized the development of the instrumentation of the Cuban Orquesta Tipica:
‘“Cirilo Villaverde famously described popular dance venues of early nineteenth-century Cuba in his novel Cecilia Valdes, and orchestras consisting of violins, cellos, acoustic bass, and clarinet." But by the 1850s, following the invention of piston and rotary valves, cornets and low brass became a feature of such bands as well, and the ensemble later known as the orquesta tipica began to emerge. Various authors suggest that orquestas tipicas developed out of marching and military bands associated with the batallones de pardos y morenos (battalions of mulattos and blacks), segregated fighting units first established by Spanish colonial authorities in 1764. Carpentier describes one such band that included instruments now associated with the standard orquesta tipica (such as the bassoon, clarinet, trombone, and bugle/cornet), as well as others (piccolos, French horns) that are not, at least in a consistent fashion.” Similar ensembles of varied instrumentation are described as charangas in studies of Spanish military music.”
 Photographs show that the combination varied from group to group. A photograph of the Orquesta Henry Pena shows: bass violin, two violins, flute, 2 clarinets, cornet, valve trombone, ophicleide, large and small timbales and guiro[20]. An earlier combination  the Orquestra Failde contained: bass violin two violins, cornet, two clarinets C and Bb, trombone, ophicleide[21] and calabash like guiro. (No other percussion!).

            Fig. 7 Above: Top left Guiro, right Ophicleide - Bottom left, Timbales  

Similar developments in New Orleans between 1880 and 1900 led to the growth of a type of public dance orchestra known locally as a Tin Band [22] because of the addition of brass and wind instruments to the string trio that had been the base of previous string bands. Listeners thought it sounded tinny compared with the fuller sound of the brass bands common at the time.

           Fig.8 Above: The John Robichaux Orchestra 1895

One of the best known was the John Robichaux Orchestra that in 1895 consisted of 2 violins, clarinet, 2 cornets, slide trombone, bass violin and trap drums. This orchestra continued performing well into the 20th century.
By 1900 the average New Orleans  dance orchestra was trimmed down to violin, cornet, trombone, clarinet, guitar, bass violin and trap drums.

 Fig. 9 Above: The Original Superior Orchestra 1910

This was the most common format during the transition to Elemental Jazz. The piano was added around 1910. Violins were dropped from some groups after 1917 and the saxophone was introduced.
After 1917 Ford Dabney’s band consisted of 2 violins, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone, brass/string bass, piano, drums. It was thus a later combination than those typical of the Elemental Jazz period.[23]


Most commentary on the likeness/difference between early jazz and Afro-Cuban music has centred on rhythmic content. This was well summarized in John Storm Roberts’ The Latin Tinge. More recently writers, like John Doheny and Chris Washburne, have shown that there have always been remarkable rhythmic likenesses in selected early jazz recordings, from those of Jelly Roll Morton to King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. There is also an amount of written or oral history confirming that the earliest New Orleans bands employed Spanish  rhythms particularly when playing  the blues.
The terms Latin and Spanish Rhythms are misleading as evidence reveals that the source of many rhythms from other Latin American countries were derived from Haiti and Cuba and for our purposes we should, perhaps, designate them Cuban rhythms even though they may be traceable to earlier Spanish and probably Congan sources.
Lawrence  Gushee has demonstrated that in the period 1880-1900 there was an emerging interest in syncopation among the dance orchestras of New Orleans:
“In any event Perez was born in 1881on Urquhart Street in the Seventh Ward. Just as he was beginning to learn trumpet, at age twelve, there was a syncopated evolution. Vocal groups composed of young creoles, or even of whites, such as those of the spasm band, retained the rhythmic aspect of all the badly digested music. . . . At this time, his teacher, a certain Constant ["Coustaut"] who lived on St. Philip Street had nothing but contempt and mockery for the "fakers" who went around from street to street. Two musicians were popular among the creoles and had a great influence on the young generation: Lorenzo Tio and Doublet. Perez remembers that after1895, even though they usually played polkas and schottisches, they [i.e., Tio and Doublet] let themselves be tempted by the infatuation of the audiences and went along with the new music. They constituted the link . . . between popular music and ragtime (Goffin 1946,69-70).
There's a lot more in this interview, but I have singled out this passage because of Perez's emphatic focus on the brief period 1893-1895 and on two specific musicians of the older school, Lorenzo Tio and Doublet.”[24]
It appears that the Dolly sisters found the beats of Cuban music, presumably performances of the danzon, rhythmically appealing. Unlike traditional American popular music of the time these Cuban compositions featured traditional rhythms based on repeated syncopation patterns that featured uneven accents within measures. Those rhythms are believed to have Spanish and African antecedents.
Ned Sublette described the origin of the Cuban rhythms in the danzon and other Cuban dances:
“The musicians who played the Cuban contradanzas were black. To the simple monophonic melody on the page they put their own interpretation, which was not written down. They added to the contradanza the underlying rhythmic cell that came to be known as tango. This cell is written (using a 2/4 time signature, though it could as easily be written in cut time):
This rhythmic cell would infect the music of the world. With the name tango already applied to it in Cuba, it is identical with the rhythmic cell of the later Argentine tango (about which, more later). As it traveled the cell acquired a different name, which, to use the jargon of a later time, branded it as Cuban: the habanera. The two names in Cuba were applied indistinctly to the same rhythm as the tresillo. An important variant of this cell was achieved by tying the second note of the habanera cell to the third. That is, the Cuban musicians put more of a bump on the and of two by laying out on the downbeat of three.

           Tresillo means “triplet,” so it’s a misnomer to call this asymmetrical figure a tresillo, but that’s the name that stuck. In the bass, this figure was commonplace in Cuba before it was commonplace in the United States. “[25]
These patterns are referred to as clavé rhythms in Cuban music.
By contrast the ‘rhythmic evolution’ that led to the appearance of Elemental Jazz in New Orleans between 1895 and 2006 initially derived from the dance rhythms popular there and elsewhere in the United States – regular 4/4 or 6/8 rhythms for the popular two-steps and 3 beat rhythms for waltzes, mazurkas etc., and after 1899, Classical Ragtime.
There is substantial evidence that as early jazz performance evolved a characteristic “two-beat” rhythm was developed. This involved stresses on the first and third beats of the measure:

Fig.10  Above: Characteristic two-beat rhythm adopted by the first New Orleans jazz bands.

 This apparently spare pattern developed as individual performers improvised variations. Guitarist John St. Cyr explained:
       “…the bass hit 1 and 3 with little runs for two or four measures … the guitar hit straight four beats with little runs to break up the monotony … The bass drum played straight one and three beats.” (He said that drummers had their individual jazzy styles on the snare drum.) “[26]
A similar role pattern appears in danzon rhythm sections with the Guiro assuming the snare drum role. However the bass drum rhythm patterns played by the large and small timbales is more complex producing more intricate  rhythms, for example:


Fig. 11 above example of typical  rhythm pattern used by  Orquesta Tipicas early 20th century

This ‘bateria’ of timbales and guiro did not last long into the Jazz Age as Cuban bands adopted the drum set with the introduction of jazz into Cuba after 1915.
Don Rouse has suggested  that some New Orleans guitarists adopted rhythmic performance styles that had strong ties with recordings by Caribbean musicians. He examined recordings by Danny Barker and found that:
“(Barker) uses a distinctive rhythmic chording style. It uses repeated figures which seem to consist of a 16th (note) followed by a dotted 8th note, on, for example, each quarter note of the measure…The primary effect is a dislocation or displacement of accents which sets up for the listener a feeling of rhythmic tension.”[27]
Barker told Rouse that he learned that style of playing from Lorenzo Staulz who played guitar with Buddy Bolden’s Orchestra around 1906. Barker elsewhere quoted Staulz saying:
“Buddy Bolden would say, ‘Simmer down, let me hear the sound of them feet.’ … they’d shade the music … the rhythm then often would play that mixture of African and Spanish rhythm.”
Other witnesses also stated that early jazz groups used Spanish rhythms when playing the blues, though Baby Dodds said this was more common among downtown bands. There does appear to be a nexus between the blues and Cuban rhythm patterns.
 W.C.Handy visited Cuba as early as  1900 wrote:
“The music of the island intrigued me. I never missed the concerts of the one-hundred-piece Havana Guards Band.[28] More often I sought out the small, shy bands that played behind closed shutters on dark out of the way streets where the passionflower bloomed in the heart of the night. These fascinated me because they were playing a strange native air, new and interesting to me. More than thirty years later I heard that rhythm again. By then it had gained respectability in New York and had acquired a name-the Rumba.”[29]
  He said, he introduced it into his own blues compositions - St Louis Blues, Memphis Blues, Beale St Blues and other works.
More famously, Jelly Roll Morton argued that what he called the Spanish Tinge was a necessary ingredient of jazz during an interview with folk researcher Alan Lomax:
“Then we had Spanish people there. I heard a lot of Spanish tunes and I tried to play them in correct tempo, but I personally didn't believe they were really perfected in the tempos. Now take La Paloma, which I transformed in New Orleans style. You leave the left hand just the same. The difference comes in the right hand - in the syncopation, which  gives it an entirely different colour that really changes the colour from red to blue. Now in one of my earliest tunes, New Orleans Blues you can notice the Spanish tinge. In fact, if  you can't manage to put tinges of Spanish in your tunes, you will never be able to get the right seasoning, I call it, for jazz… This New Orleans  Blues comes from around 1902. I wrote it with the help of Frank Richards, a great piano player in the ragtime style. All the bands in the city played it at that time…
Er, that’s the type of tune, er, was no doubt one of the earliest blues that was created as a composition — a playable composition — in the city of New Orleans. This tune was wrote about nineteen-two. All the black bands in the city of New Orleans played these tunes — that’s this tune, I mean…
               Er, of course, you may notice the Spanish tinge in it. Er, this has so much to do with the typical jazz idea. If one can’t, er, manage a way to put these tinges of Spanish in these tunes, they’ll never be able to get the right season, I may call it, for jazz music.
Of course you got to have these little tinges of Spanish in it, er, in order to play real good jazz. Er, jazz has a foundation that must be very prominent, especially with the bass sections, in order to give a great background for the blues
 Plus, what’s called riffs today, er, which was known as figures. But figures has, hasn’t always been in the dance bands. I’ll give you an idea what, er, the, the idea of Spanish there is in the blues.

Plays New Orleans Blues

 …As I said before, maybe you may be able to, er, notice the Spanish tinge. But you must have a powerful background.
         Er, for an instance, those days they used “La Paloma.”  Was, er, one of the great Spanish tunes. Y’know, New Orleans was inhabited with maybe every race on the face of the globe. And of course, we had Spanish people — they had plenty of ‘em — and plenty of French people. Of course, I’ll . . . I may demonstrate a little bit of “La Paloma,” er, to show you that the tinge is really in there. Take it easy.
Plays La Paloma

That would be the common time, which it gives you the same thing in the . . . [demonstrates syncopation] . . . I hope this is, er, quite clear to you, see? Only one is a blues, but differentiating in these things, it comes from the right hand. You play the left hand just the same, but of course, blues you . . . you, you get the syncopation in there. It gives, er, a entirely different colour. It really changes the colour from red to blue. And maybe you can notice this powerful bass hand?”[30]
Matthew Berger analyzed Morton’s demonstration of New Orleans Blues and concluded:
“Morton talks about what he considers the “Spanish tinge” in jazz. He refers several times to the rhythm of the bass lines played by his left hand on the piano. At 0:32 he begins playing a rhythm known as tresillo, or sometimes tresillo Cubano. He also uses a slight variation known popularly as the habanera rhythm. These rhythms are notated here
Other common variations of these rhythms heard in both Cuban music and jazz are:  

The song entitled “La Paloma” that Morton begins talking about at 2:52 and starts playing at 3:14 uses the habanera rhythm. Written by the Spanish composer Sebastián Yradier after visiting Cuba in 1861, the success of “La Paloma” popularized the habanera throughout the Americas and Europe. [31]
Morton insisted that Spanish colourations should be incorporated by adding syncopated variations in the melody line. (Right hand on piano.)
The excerpt from the piano score of New Orleans Blues shown below, illustrates the repeated Cuban rhythm (habanera) in the bass line accompanied by syncopated figures in the melody line (Right hand) that vary from measure to measure.

  Fig. 12 Above: Piano score New Orleans Blues ( Jelly Roll Morton ) measures 7/9

 Doheny argued that early jazz recordings contained numerous examples of this, what he called tresillo like, bass and other ostinato-like phrases (sometimes called clave) such as the cinquillo.[32]
It has been speculated that ragtime era jazz bands were the result of New Orleans bands trying to play Mexican music.[33] It seems likely, however, that bands that were able to play the blues with the habanera style rhythm could have done so in other dance forms.  However that rhythm did not suit  all of the conventional dances required by New Orleans dancers, so they played it for the emerging blues compositions and some commercial ragtime numbers that  suited it.


Madrid and Moore reviewed early Cuban danzon recordings and concluded that improvisation could be found in various segments of early twentieth century danzones.[34] Their review confirmed that the use of varied or improvised A themes was used to build intensity through entire compositions and found consistent patterns of improvisation and  common roles for the lead instruments:
“Usually all instruments play the first repeated A segment together, complete with subdued cornet improvisations. During the next repeated iteration of A, clarinets and violins typically enter alone, without accompaniment from the cornet or the low horn. When the phrase repeats, however, low horns and the cornet re-enter, the cornet playing flashier improvisations, resulting in a climax of sorts that contrasts markedly with the sparser initial phrases. As Grenet[35] implies, cornet performers in the orquesta tipica apparently conceived of their role as discant instrumentalist, providing constantly new, complementary melodies to the principal themes played in variation by other instruments. Clarinets, violins, and lower horns complemented the lead cornet with heterophony elaborations[36] of the principal A theme, high sustained pitches, syncopated background figures, or other elements to the accompaniment of percussive ad-lib fills on the timbales.”[37]
They also quoted Grenet about cornet performers:
“The note of highest colour (in the ensemble) was given by the cornet which as the chantecler of the band took over the introductions, given by the cornet imposing a dominance sustained by the  artifice of its variations” 
Madrid and Moore made their own analysis of performance practice in early danzon recordings confirming that some included substantial amounts of relatively free improvisation and varied interpretations of a single phrase.[38]
Madrid and Moore also quoted Grenet describing the clarinets in the Orquestas Tipicas playing in their highest register to generate excitement and renew the enthusiasm of the dancers. This type of frenetic high register clarinet performance can be heard in the early danzon recordings. It appears also to have been developed in New Orleans during the early jazz era and can clearly be heard in what many believe to be the first of all jazz recordings.[39]
 With minor modifications the above might be seen as a description of early New Orleans jazz performance before 1920. Madrid and Moore quote evidence of improvisation and heterophony in danzon performances in the 1860’s, and earlier, and suggest that this approach can be regarded as common practice in Cuba, apparently predating similar heterophonic textures[40] in New Orleans. On the other hand, Ralph Collins[41] argued that variations were commonly interpolated in performances by New Orleans dance orchestras before the jazz revolution.
In turn of the century New Orleans the violin was the lead instrument responsible to maintain the melodic structure, and at the time of Buddy Bolden, heterophonic variations were provided by the wind instruments. The cornet role evolved as described above, providing constant new variations on the theme, and over time, the cornet began to function as a leading voice. Eventually, in some bands the violin was dropped altogether. Until the 1920’s elaborate solo variations were not performed by individual instrumentalists in early New Orleans jazz bands, but subsequently they became more common, dominating performance by many recording groups in the 1920’s.

Recorded Evidence

 In the past I have been critical of jazz historians relying solely on recorded evidence on which to build a narrative history of jazz.[42] For a long period our understanding of what Bruce Raeburn called the ‘idiomatic New Orleans style’ was limited because of the absence of recordings during its elemental stages. Nevertheless the comparative abundance of recordings of early Cuban danzon performances provide us with an opportunity for comparative study of performance practices now that oral history and other sources have given us an improved understanding of early jazz performance. Although the earliest jazz recordings appeared in 1917 many musicians who had been present as performers or witnesses during the previous 20 years recorded performances in the 1920’s and later.
While undertaking research for my book The Birth of Jazz: Reviving the Music of the Bolden Era I came across early cylinder recordings by Orquestas Tipicas that sounded in some respects similar to early performances featuring New Orleans musicians.[43]
In 2010 at the Conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections recording specialist David Sager[44] proposed that analysis of early recordings could illuminate our understanding of performance practice in the Bolden Era and demonstrated his proposal with recorded examples. He began by illustrating with examples how the music of the time was played by conventional orchestras and compared them with later recordings by jazz musicians from contemporary New Orleans. Towards the end of his address he made the following comparison:
 “It is generally agreed that Bolden’s successor as the king of New Orleans hot cornetists, was Freddie Keppard. Keppard, whom we heard from earlier, played loudly, rhythmically, and with a rough-edge. He also left behind enough phonograph recordings to give us an idea of his particular style. Amazingly Keppard’s playing is foreshadowed in several dozen recordings made during the first decade and a half of the 20th century, by a cornetist not from New Orleans but in another port city located about 700 miles southeast.
Pablo Valenzuela led his orquesta through the popular dances of the day, not quadrilles, but danzones, two-steps and waltzes. Here is a reminder of Keppard’s style followed by a danzon by Pablo Valenzuela, recorded in 1913.
{Here Sager played part of ‘Here Comes The Hot Tamale Man’ recorded by Fred Keppard’s Jazz Cardinals 1926 and a section of ‘Matazulem’ recorded by Orquesta Pablo Valenzuela 1913}
            Could it be that the similarity between the styles of Keppard and Valenzuela is an indicator of Bolden’s manner of playing? To me the evidence is fairly strong but not conclusive. “
Sager was there making a strong case for a similarity in performance style between musicians who had been   performing at the beginning of the 20th Century - Keppard around 1907/8 in New Orleans and Valenzuela even earlier in Havana. It should be noted that contemporary witnesses regularly mentioned Keppard as having a style similar to Buddy Bolden.
As stated above, I had noted a similarity of overall sound/style between Orquestas recorded during the early jazz years in Cuba including the Orquesta Pablo Valenzuela and later recordings by celebrated New Orleans performers, particularly King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band regarded by many as the ultimate expression of the early New Orleans Jazz style.
Fortunately analyses of danzon recordings by Madrid and Moore included examples from the Orquesta Pablo Valenzuela including a performance contemporary with the beginning of New Orleans jazz.  It was recorded in 1906 at a time when Buddy Bolden was still performing. This was La Patti Negra (the Black Patti) a three-part danzon composed and arranged by Raimundo Valenzuela who unfortunately on died 27 April 1905 before the piece was recorded. Madrid and Moore pointed out that this example illustrated the borrowing of melodies and improvisation that were typical of the danzon at the time. Its second theme was borrowed from the chorus of a popular Vaudeville Coon Song performed by the Black Patti Troubadours – Bob Cole and J. Rosamond Johnson’s Under the Bamboo Tree (1902). This was performed to great acclaim by Sissiereta Jones during performances at Havana’s Grand Tacon Theatre on 19/21 March 1904 as the last item before the interval. Cole and Johnson were members of the Troubadours who had themselves composed the chorus based on the Spiritual Nobody Knows the Trouble I have Seen. La Patti Negra was recorded by Orquesta Pablo Valenzuela in 1906 - the same year that the Dolly Sisters visited Havana.
Raimundo Valenzuela must have recognized the rhythm of the chorus and adapted for the third part of La Patti Negra. It was recorded in Havana by the Edison Company in 1906[45] under the leadership of cornet player Pablo Valenzuela. Madrid and Moore pointed out that this recording demonstrated the result of musical and commercial interchanges between Cuban and US musical cultures that had been going on for a long time. They suggest that it may have been reduced to three parts to accommodate the short run time of the Edison cylinder format.
La Patti Negra consisted of three parts of which the chorus of Under the Bamboo Tree was adapted for the melody of part B. Parts A and C were composed and arranged by Raimundo Valenzuela. The performance took the form –AABBAACC.
Madrid and Moore detected variations in the melodic lines in all sections and cited examples of differences between clarinet, violin and cornet parts in repetitions of part A:

Fig.13 Above: Formal Analysis of La Patti Negra performance by Madrid and Moore [46]

 “Following A1 and A2 come the two segments of B with the theme from “Under the Bamboo Tree." This segment is relatively pre-composed, though even here one can detect differences between the initial statement and the repeat, especially in the cornet line (see Exs. 4.5 and 4.6). The low horns and the percussion play more softly and emphasize the Afro-Caribbean cinquillo less in section B; much of the time they play backbeats on 2 and 4[47], for instance, and the guiro emphasizes downbeats rather than syncopations, giving the overall sound a US-style cakewalk or ragtime feel rather than a Cuban feel. 'This was apparently the intention…
The A4 segment in 'La Patti Negra” is followed by section C, with a new theme and harmony in the same key. When listening through it, one finds only relatively infrequent moments when cornet, violin, and clarinet play more or less the same line, at the beginning and end; most of the time they freely vary the theme together. Variation is so prominent here that it is difficult to distinguish a principal melodic idea for purposes of transcription. The use of high, sustained pitches in the clarinet, one aspect of such melodic play, is heard once again, especially during the repeat of the phrase. In the first half of the segment, the clarinet and violin emphasize arpeggios and looped phrases in their middle and low registers against the cornet, and then return to their highest registers on the repeat. Along with A4, section C captures well the collective improvisatory exuberance of early jazz.”
This was a remarkably interesting analysis. Of particular usefulness was their comparison of variations in the cornet performance practice between Part B1 and Part B2.

Fig. 14 Above: Comparison between Cornet performances of La
Patti Negra as played by Pablo Valenzuela.

            This illustrates variation by what an early New Orleans jazz musician called ‘adding notes’. Wallace Collins, a member of the early Buddy Bolden Orchestra, said of Buddy Bolden that: “He’d take one note and put two or three to it”.[48]
Historian James Collier described it as follows:
“Probably two thirds or three quarters, or perhaps even more of the notes... are strings of these pairs of notes to a beat...(the) musicians detach these runs of notes from the ground beat  .... by dividing them in  some incommensurate  fashion and spicing them with accents.” ‘
Gunther Schuller made a similar analysis of a 1923 recording by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band:

Fig.15 Above: First four measures of the chorus of Mabel’s Dream King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band 1923 transcription of the lead cornet performance  as transcribed by Gunther Schuller.

Schuller commented on the performance:        
“Letter A is a fairly literal statement of the Trio theme. But at B Oliver “wants to swing this theme” as Martin Williams puts it, and to do this he has to “recast its melody line”. Comparing A and B we see that nine out of sixteen measures are identical; the other seven represent various degrees of embellishments or fill-ins. These changes have one purpose: to introduce more swing to the melody. In measure three of B, a blues-ish phrase adds to the effect, anticipating an even more blues like interpretation for the third chorus.”
The  examples above demonstrate a similar approach to variation and the role of the cornet. Sager had detected the similarity of style between Pablo Valenzuela and Fred Keppard – here we see a demonstration that the Valenzuela approach to improvisation is similar  to that of his successor King Oliver. There is a difference between the examples in that Oliver introduced blues intonation whereas the four quaver runs of Valenzuela impart a more Cuban flavor. The clarinet improvisations in La Patti Negra are relatively unsophisticated by comparison with those on the Oliver recording. However it would be more sensible to compare them with those of earlier New Orleans performers. As pointed out above, the more erratic performances of the earliest recorded New Orleans clarinet players from 1917 to 1919 would be a valid comparison.
The examples quoted above contain four note figures that Jack Stewart identified as three over four repeated syncopation - a pattern he found common in Mexican music and in early ragtime music composed by New Orleans composers, commonly called Secondary Rag.

 Stewart pointed out that such patterns also appeared throughout the Bunk Johnson (1942) demonstration of the Buddy  Bolden performance style, now known as Makin' Runs.

              Fig 16. Above: First 8 bars of Makin Runs  attributed to Buddy Bolden. Note staccato runs in measures 6/7

 John Doheny sought evidence of occurrences  of the tresillo rhythmic pattern in early recordings of  New Orleans performers and concluded:
  “A perusal of the phonograph recordings from the period of classic 1920s jazz reveals that drummers in particular (and ensembles in general, to greater or lesser degrees) interpreted rhythms as additive in nature, resulting in the distinctive "lope" or "groove" which was to be a unifying factor in jazz styles up to the avant-garde period beginning in the early sixties. In addition to this distinctive "feel," which jazz musicians applied even to the most European of rhythmic structures, early New Orleans jazz drummers often employed figures easily identifiable as Afro-Cuban in origin.”
He found examples in recorded works by King Oliver and Fred Keppard:
“In King Oliver's recording of "New Orleans Stomp," a similar pattern is revealed, except the eighth-note displacement occurs in bar two of what is, in this case, a repeated two-bar phrase. It should be noted that, when these types of figures are executed on the snare drum, it is the accents that form the audible outline of the rhythm, resulting in a Tresillo figure in the first bar:

The Afro-Cuban Tresillo in King Oliver's recording of "New Orleans Stomp"

Examples of variations of this pattern can be found in Oliver's recording of "Buddy's Habit" in which the accents in the stream of eighth-notes played in the accompanying banjo figure reveal a bar of three quarter-notes, followed by the Tresillo pattern:

A variation found in King Oliver’s "Buddy's Habit" and in Freddie Keppard's recording of "Adam's Apple," in which a bar of "swung" eighth-notes is followed by a bar in which the eighth-note accents reveal yet another Tresillo pattern:

The Afro-Cuban Tresillo in Freddie Keppard's recording of "Adam's Apple"”

Doheny commented:
“It should be stressed that these repeated rhythmic cells were by no means used throughout every piece. They were generally deployed in trio, bridge or contrasting sections, sometimes in "out" (final) choruses, and appear to have been used as a means of generating additional rhythmic excitement.”
It would appear from the above that we have evidence of commonalities of performance practice between the Danzon as recorded between 1906 and 1913 and Jazz Age performances by New Orleans Orchestras led by musicians who began their careers in New Orleans between 1906 and 1908. Which came first?
Evidence provided by Gushee and Collins above suggests that a ‘syncopated evolution’ occurred in New Orleans dance performance around 1881 that developed into elemental jazz between 1897 and 1907. Almost simultaneously commercial ragtime became a national obsession in the United States. There is evidence that so-called Mexican or Spanish music, forms derived from Cuban and Haitian roots were popular in New Orleans around the same time.  
Ned Sublette proposed that the Orquesta Tipicas evolved during the second half of the nineteenth century from a military band tradition that began in the 18th century and Madrid and Moore  claimed to have evidence of improvisation in Cuban performances early 1800’s. This would suggest that the similarities resulted from influences imported to New Orleans via Mexican and other Latin American forms derived from earlier Cuban/Haitian  roots.

Physical proximity of Cuban musicians and Early Jazz Players

Researchers, including Madrid  and Moore and Jack Stewart,  have sought evidence of direct Cuban influence on early jazz musicians with little success. A number of musicians like Manuel Perez appeared to have Latin antecedents but few had direct contact with Cuba. Cornetist Manuel Mello who played in white bands had visited Cuba. Drummer Chink Martin was another with connections, but others with Spanish sounding names had little direct personal contact with the island and its music.
According to Stewart[49] the most well documented Cuban travels of a New Orleans musical group are those of the Onward Brass Band. This band traveled extensively, and played in Cuba in 1884 as well as New York in 1891. Members of the Onward Brass  Band enlisted as members of an official military band unit during the US war with Spain in 1898 and had been stationed in Cuba  after the end of  the hostilities. Most significantly, William Jarvis who played valve trombone in Buddy Bolden’s Orchestra enlisted in the 9thth Immunes Regiment Band and was stationed in Havana  in 1898.
Around the same time when New Orleans was experiencing the ‘Syncopated Evolution” mentioned by Manuel Perez the city was exposed to what has been called a Mexican Band Phenomenon. Most commentaries associate this with the visit of military bands from Mexico beginning with Payen’s Eighth Calvary Mexican Band at the World’s Cotton Centennial Exhibition held in New Orleans in 1884. Jack Stewart researched this story and found that Payen’s Band returned in 1891 and 1898. The programmes contained mazurkas, waltzes  and polkas but also what were referred to as Mexican Danzas. Stewart commented that:
“during the same time period that Payen’s  band was making multiple visits to New Orleans  there were other Mexican musical groups doing likewise.”[50]
He pointed out that this influx created confusion about the term Mexican Band and included a number of orquesta tipicas including one called the Orquesta Tipica Mexicana. Some of the musicians stayed and  became members of New Orleans bands, and a Mexican Band was set up at the West End Amusement Park. One of these musicians Florencio Ramos introduced the saxophone to the city. Francisco Quinones who came to the city with a Spanish group ‘The Queen’s Own Band’ taught guitar to Chink Martin who by 1900 was playing guitar with a ‘Mexican Band” playing music he called Spanish style.

Identifying significant influence of Cuban and Other Musics on Early Jazz.

It would appear that evidence cited above would go some way towards meeting some of the criteria  suggested by Suhor above:
a. There must be a musicological likeness:
Recorded  and oral evidence suggests that similarities of personal instrumental style and improvisational practices can be identified between Cuban Orquestas Tipicas and New Orleans Orchestras and musicians of the Elemental Jazz period and later. Apparently Afro-Cuban rhythm structures became a feature of early blues performance by New Orleans bands.
b .There must at some time have been a close physical proximity of the musicians with early jazz players and/or their immediate ancestors:
There is little evidence of direct contact among individual musicians, though a few New Orleans players and others like W.C. Handy from elsewhere in the US visited the island  between 1900 and 1910.  A number of New Orleans performers had ‘Latin American’ family  roots.
 Composers like Cole and Johnson active during  the early  commercial ragtime Vaudeville vogue  performed in Cuba and there is clear evidence that such performances influenced Orquesta Tipica performances  recorded after 1900 and earlier Cuban Danzon compositions.
There does not appear to be any evidence that Danzon music was directly influenced by early jazz performance style before 1906, though musicologists have demonstrated that jazz instrumentation and performance styles rapidly influenced Cuban music later.
Music derived from Afro-Cuban roots was performed in New Orleans by ‘Spanish’ and Mexican Musicians in the critical period between 1895 and 1906 when New Orleans dance music experienced a “syncopated evolution” and early jazz began to evolve.
c. There should hopefully be some archived testimony from the early jazz players.
Numerous musicians active in the early jazz era testified to the use of Afro-Cuban rhythm patterns by New Orleans dance orchestras and recorded evidence has been produced that such patterns continued to be introduced into recorded performances of the  1920’s.
d. Anecdotal accounts can validly be part of c., but for credibility there should be some volume of quotes on a topic.[51]
There is a sufficient volume of anecdotal and other evidence to support  the conclusion at c. above. In particular, recorded evidence from interviews with Jelly Roll Morton suggest that Afro-Cuban rhythm and ‘Spanish’ melodic improvisational ‘tinge’ he demonstrated in the right hand of his piano demonstration formed an essential element of  early jazz.
If there is no evidence of early jazz performers influencing Cuban Danzon performance, how do we account for the similarities identified between Danzon recordings from as early as 1906, when Buddy Bolden’s Band was still performing, and later recordings by New Orleans pioneers? My first reaction on hearing La Patti Negra performed by the Orquesta Pablo Valenzuela was to suspect that the musicians must have heard early jazz and incorporated elements into their music. This does not seem possible however. It would seem that the influence came first from Cuba – directly by the medium of published compositions as early as those of Gottschalk and later at the critical point in the evolution of early jazz indirectly via popular Mexican and so called Spanish performers around the end of the nineteenth century. Morton’s evidence seems to support the latter conclusion

Mr. Kingsley Redacted

Walter Kingsley has been derided as a cheap purveyor of false information about the sources of jazz inspiration, yet there does appear some substance to his assertions.  He declared that Lafcadio Hearn had found the source of the word in Creole patois sources in New Orleans and traced its derivation in Gold Coast Africa. This appears to be a groundless assertion – no evidence has been found of such testimony by Hearn in any of his works including his Little dictionary of Creole proverbs (1885). Kingsley is not alone failing to establish a valid etymology of the word. No satisfactory account of the word’s derivation has appeared despite numerous suggestions about its origins.
 In the  second 1917 article  Kingsley quoted Lillian Russell suggesting that early performers were influenced by Spanish strains brought to this country by way of Cuba, ‘Hayti’ sic. and Mexico and wrote:
“ This mixture of acrobatics and cacophony seems first to have taken definite recognized form in this country among the Negroes of the South, just as did ragtime, which incited the colored folk to develop this latest form of rhythmical mania…”[52]
In his first article he related its first appearance in New York as follows:
“Now let me tell you when jazz music was first heard on the Great Wine Way. I forgot to tell you that it has flourished for hundreds of years in Cuba and Hayti, and of course, New Orleans derived it from there. Now when the Dollys danced their way across Cuba some years ago they now and again struck a band which played a teasing forte strain that stirred their lithe young limbs into an ecstasy of action and stimulated the paprika strain in their blood until they danced like maenads of the decadence. They returned to New York and a long time later they were booked on the New Amsterdam roof for the “Midnight Frolic” and Flo said:
‘Haven’t you got something new? My kingdom for a novelty’. And Rosie and Jenny piped up and said that in Cuba there was  a funny music that they weren’t musicians enough to describe for orchestration, but that put little dancing devils in their legs, made their bodies swing and sway, set their lips to humming and their fingers snapping. Composers were called in: not one knew what the girls were talking about; some laughed at this ‘daffy dinge music’. Flo Ziegfeld, being a man of resource and direct action, sent to Cuba, had one of the bands rounded up, got the Victor people to make records for him, and the ‘Frolic’ opened with the Dollys dancing to a phonograph record. Do you remember? Of course you do. That was canned jazz but you didn’t know it then. First time in Broadway…”[53]
This account has rarely been mentioned in histories of jazz.  What  are we to make of it. How reasonable is it in the light of other evidence?
In a previous paper[54] I mentioned that some recent historians now call such apparently unknown, trivial or neglected pieces of historical evidence factoids[55] - defined as “an invented fact, believed to be true because of its appearance in print.” Alternatively they define a factoid as an apparently trivial fact that appears in print. Though some historians reject the use of the term, others focus their attention on such apparently trivial anecdotes and other neglected details as a means of placing evidence back into the environment from which it came. They see this as a means of creating a more accurate narrative image of a forgotten past that cannot really be recreated.
What can we say about Kingsley’s historiography in relation to his surroundings as America edged its way into World War I?
By 1917 the word Jass, Jazz or Jaz was beginning to appear frequently in the commercial press. The best evidence suggest that it was used  around 1912/3 on the West Coast in baseball commentaries. It was not used in New Orleans to describe the local dance music but surfaced in Chicago to describe the new form of hot ragtime  introduced by New Orleans musicians. There is evidence however that it was used in theatrical circles before 1916 and Leonard Gushee identified a number of popular musical  works  published in that year with variations of the word in the title. He found “a flood” of close to 40 compositions so described published in 1917.[56] 
Since the beginning of the century ragtime in the form of ragtime songs or Coon Songs had flourished as the popular music of the theatre and popular compositions for piano and small dance orchestras.  Silent movies were popular and around 1916 Charlie Chaplin was turning out a new movie a year. The popular theatre was dominated by nation-wide chains of vaudeville houses like the Pantages circuit. Kingsley was connected with the B.F.Keith circuit.
Beginning in  1907  the Ziegfeld Follies became  an established feature of the  New York entertainment scene. Pitched at a high-class level, the annual productions featured elaborate settings with beautiful girls in extravagant costumes. 1915 saw the introduction of the Midnight Frolic a late-night show held in the roof garden of the New Amsterdam Theatre after the Follies presentation.
Following the success of the venture the year before the second annual presentation of the Frolic featuring the Dolly Sisters and the emerging star comedian Will Rogers opened in January 1916. This gives us an approximate date for Kingsley’s purported introduction of jazz to Broadway.  Though this is earlier than the debut of the Original Dixieland Jass Band in New York it appears that two New Orleans Bands – Tom Brown’s Band From Dixieland and the Original Creole Orchestra appeared on the New York circuit late the previous year while Ziegfeld was recording his Cuban band and preparing for the 1916 Midnight Frolic. Kingsley should have been aware of the Original Creole Orchestra performing at the Wintergarden Theatre and in  Keith Circuit venues but he did not apparently identify it with jazz.[57]
There seems to be no reason to doubt that Cuban music featured at the 1916 Midnight Frolic, however that was never associated with jazz by historians apart from Kingsley. In the Sun article of 4th November 1917 attributed to Vreeland, Kingsley’s account of the Frolic performance is repeated with the addendum:
“But no one in this city then seemed to take to the tom tom style of melodic art and it never got beyond the wax disc. But it had already drifted from the Antilles to New Orleans and authorities are practically one in the view that this concord of swift sounds began its infant caterwauling in this country at the Louisiana city. Inundating the South like a bad break in the Mississippi levees, it was soon rampant in the underworld resorts and gradually worked its way up the river to Chicago where most persons like their music raw.
From Chicago it jumped to New York with no intermediate stops and the honor of bringing it here first is generally accorded to be the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.”[58]
Sadly for this latter theory the Original Dixieland Jazz Band did not arrive in New York until 27th January 1917 by which time Tom Brown’s Band and the Original Creole Orchestra had already left the city, though the latter returned for an engagement in March 1917 at The Montmartre Wintergarden billed as performing ‘Jazz Music’.[59]  The Vreeland article goes on to describe Original Dixieland Jazz Band and relate its story including its first recordings of ‘Canned Jazz’.  It also quotes Irving Berlin proposing that the jazz craze was not yet over.
Cuban musicologists suggest that African rhythmic elements began to appear early in the 19th Century  in melodic and bass structures of  contradanzas in the form of habanera, other clave rhythms and African drumming traditions and these passed into danzon performance practice into the twentieth century. These were the elements that appear to have passed into early New Orleans jazz performance via the music of the Orquestas Tipicas. Kingsley may not have been conscious of the channel by which they came to New Orleans but he appears to have been correct in asserting that  African elements came via Cuba and Haiti. He apparently identified the music recorded by Ziegfeld in Cuba with the music around him being labeled jazz. The music of the Brown Band and that of the Original Creole Band were not promoted as jazz, perhaps because both bands were forced to perform as novelty, hokum or  ragtime bands until 1917 when the Original Creole Band was advertised as playing “Jazz Music” at the Wintergarden. The Creole Orchestra starring Cornetist Fred Keppard  was considered as one of the best jazz bands of the time by authoritative witnesses.[60]
Ziegfeld and his performers presumably began preparation for the 1916 Midnight Frolic sometime before the end of December 1915. His recordings must have been made sometime before the beginning of 1916. However the Original Creole Band was performing in New York in December 1915 some weeks before the opening of the frolic.
If Ziegfeld’s  Cuban ‘jazz’ recordings were made in 1915 they would bid fair to be among the first jazz recordings. Recent investigations have thrown doubt on what Scott Alexander called the standard history of jazz recordings:
“The standard history of Jazz generally considers the first Jazz record to have been the Original Dixieland 'Jass' Band's "Dixie Jass Band One Step" and "Livery Stable Blues." This record was made for the Victor label in New York on February 26, 1917. The record was not released until May of 1917. It was an immediate success and this record is considered the spark that ignited the Jazz fad that seized the world in the years during and after World War I.
…but the reality is that the Original Dixieland Jass Band's first record was not the first recording released that referred to Jazz in the song title or where the band was labeled as a Jass band on the record label. A rather convincing argument can be made that Collins and Harlan's Edison disc and cylinder "That Funny Jas Band From Dixieland" was in fact the first Jazz recording. This tune was  issued on an Edison Blue Amberol wax cylinder in April of 1917 and on an Edison record in July of that year. Collins and Harlan re-recorded another version of the tune in January of 1917 and it was released on the Victor label a month before the Original Dixieland Jass Band's first record. The instrumental breaks on the Edison version of "That Funny Jas Band From Dixieland" are quite exciting and are most certainly in the Jazz style. The Victor version of "That Funny Jas Band From Dixieland" isn't as jazzy as the Edison version, but is still an interesting recording. The song was written in 1916 by (Gus Khan and)  Henry L. Marshall, …[61]
Alexander went on to list a considerable number of recordings with jazz or jass in the title  made in 1917 including one by Arthur Fields - "Everybody Loves a 'Jass' Band". This tune was recorded on March 15, 1917 and released in July of that year. Interestingly it was the closing number of Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic in 1917 - performed by Marion Harris presumably with Dabney’s Band. Some Jazz historians consider Marion Harris to be the first female jazz singer to record.
Though there seems to be some support for Kingsley’s identification of the Cuban Danzon with ancestry of jazz, he did not identify the Original Creole Orchestra or Tom Brown’s Band from  Dixieland as the first bands to perform jazz on Broadway presumably considering them as a kind of ragtime. Kingsley was attempting to come to grips with a novelty that had emerged with a new name in Chicago in 1914 and become a talking point in the entertainment industry.

Jazz and Rhythm Defined

The first part of Kingsley’s first article about jazz was concerned with an attempt to define it relying on the experiments of Professor William Patterson:
"The music of contemporary savages taunts us with a lost art of rhythm. Modern sophistication has inhibited many native instincts, and the mere fact that our conventional dignity usually forbids us to sway our bodies or to tap our feet when we hear effective music has deprived us of unsuspected pleasures." Professor Patterson goes on to say that the ear keenly sensible of these wild rhythms has “rhythmic aggressiveness." Therefore of all moderns the jazz musicians and their auditors have the most rhythmic aggressiveness for jazz is based on the savage musicians wonderful gift for progressive retarding and acceleration guided by his sense of "swings" He finds syncopation easy and pleasant. He plays to an inner series of time beats joyfully "elastic" because not necessarily grouped in succession of twos and threes. The highly gifted jazz artist can get away with five beats where there were but two before. Of course, beside the thirty-seconds scored for the tympani in some of the modern Russian music, this doesn`t seem so intricate. but just try to beat in between beats on your kettledrum and make rhythm and you will think better of it. To be highbrow and quote Professor Patterson once more:
"With these elastic unitary pulses any haphazard series by means of syncopation can be readily, because instinctively coordinated. The result is that a rhythmic tune compounded of time and stress and pitch relations is created, the chief characteristic of which is likely to he complicated syncopation. An arabesque of accentual differences group-forming in their nature is superimposed upon the fundamental time division”.
There is jazz precisely defined as a result of months of laboratory experiment in drumbeating and syncopation. The laws that govern jazz rule in the rhythms of great original prose verse that sings itself and opera of ultra modernity. Imagine Walter Pater, Swinburne and Borodin swaying to the same pulses that rule the moonlit music on the banks of African rivers.”
Dr. William Patterson of the English Department of Columbia University published his study of  ‘Individual Differences in the Sense of Rhythm’ carried out with the assistance of the university’s Department of Psychology in 1916. [62] While primarily directed at poetical rhythm Patterson’s study elucidated aspects of the individual differences in perception of musical aspects of rhythm, swing and syncopation. Such differences might readily explain later critiques of jazz performance that lead to the formation of groups of adherents to the novelties that came and went in the first hundred years of jazz criticism.
Kingsley was not alone in searching for an adequate definition of jazz, a term being attached to new compositions and orchestras by composers, performers  and band leaders rushing to be associated with the latest fashion. As early as 1914 musicians were arguing about origins, priority and ownership and the first recording released by the so-called Original Dixieland Jass Band provoked a court case over copyright.
Scott Alexander  identified a mass of recordings seeking to catch the craze. He related  one example:
Borbee's "Jass" Orchestra recorded two songs "It's A Long, Long Time" and "Just The Kind Of Girl You'd Love To Make Your Wife" on February 14, 1917 but this record was not released until July of 1917 after the success of the Original Dixieland Jass Band's record. Apparently the record was to be released under the name of Borbee's Tango Orchestra but the band's name was changed from "Tango" to "Jass" to take advantage of the success of the Original Dixieland Jass Band and the Jazz craze that they had spawned in New York.”[63]
Writing in 1993, historian James Lincoln Collier described the situation:
“Performers everywhere were slapping the word “jazz”- or “jaz,” ”jasz,” or ”jass” as it was variously spelled  - on any kind of production that would support the title… there were jazz revues, jazz cabarets. A spate of songs hoping to capitalize on the jazz craze erupted on to the market in 1917, among them “Jazz a Yankee Doodle Tune,” “Jazebo Johnson’s Hokum Band,” “Mr. Jazz Himself,” “Jazz It Up,” Everybody’s Jazzing It,” “Everybody Loves a Jass Band,” “When I hear that ‘Jaz’ Band Play,” which was used as a “closer” at the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic [64].” [65]
Collier was one of the  few later  jazz critics who reviewed Patterson‘s analysis of jazz rhythm. He considered it an “astonishing piece of work” that had “not been surpassed for decades”:
“ Patterson was the first, as far as I am aware to use the word “swing” in its modern sense and he did so years before it had any currency  in the jazz world. And it would be at least fifty years before anyone devised a more accurate description of jazz rhythms:…”
Collier thought that though Kingsley’s observation that “jazz experts put anywhere from five to ten extra beats between the notes of a composition “ is not as   keen as those of Patterson but it is clear that Kingsley was onto something.” [66]
Kingsley may have been a Press Agent but he seems to have been seriously trying to grapple with problems of definition and analysis that have troubled jazz historians ever since.
His assertions that jazz emanated in Cuba and Haiti proved a stimulus to study  the links between Danzon and Elemental Jazz. By the time of his 1919 article[67] he had incorporated in his historiography most of the salient stories, bands and characters  that were relied on by  future jazz historians  when describing the evolution of jazz.
Collier pointed out that “jazz began its life, and grew to maturity not as an art form, but cocooned in the enormous entertainment industry that has been a feature of American life in the twentieth century.” Kingsley was one of the first to seek to erect a historiography of jazz. His efforts, barely recognized or disregarded by later writers, provide an opportunity to view the beginnings from the perspective of that industry in his time.


Fig. 16   Above: Walter Kingsley (seated with glasses)  in a tongue in cheek posed  publicity photo.[68]

 Fig. 17 Above: Headline of Kingsley’s 1919 article includes the Original Dixieland Jass Band and comedian Joe Frisco

It is difficult to project our selves into the past but it is sometimes valuable to try.  Historian Sam Charters is reported as commenting:
“I was interested in the sound of the [Buddy] Bolden Band and I was very aware that there was a Caribbean connection . . . I really wanted to know what the band sounded like so I thought I'll find out from the musicians themselves. I found the guys who had actually played with the band, or heard the band and were musicians, and they hummed me what they played and I put it together with a bunch of New Orleans musicians . . . What I really hadn't expected was that the sound was totally different from what we'd gotten used to in the 20s . . . it's a bowed bass, a gut-string guitar played straight to the bar, the drummer's using light press rolls and they all played a unison melody so when I put it together it really sounded like the Cuban danzon! . . . There was a different rhythmic emphasis because African-American music has always had a stronger 4-4 emphasis, it didn't have the Cuban shifting accents, but the sound was music that someone in the Caribbean would have recognized and it became the root source - unless it happened in America - but there's a whole Caribbean relationship that it's a shame it's been lost.”
Walter Kingsley was also something of a poet, contributing works to a compilation entitled “The Broadway Anthology”.[69] Rather wryly he commented on his standing in the world of show business in a poem – ‘Lo, The Press Agent’:

By many names men call me —
Press agent, publicity promoter, faker;
Oft times the short and simple liar.
Charles A. Dana told me
I was a buccaneer
On the high seas of journalism.
Many a newspaper business manager
Has charged me
With selling his space
Over his head.
Every one loves me
When I get his name into print —
For this is an age of publicity
And he who bloweth not his own horn
The same shall not be blown.
I have sired, nursed and reared
Many reputations.
Few men or women have I found
Scornful of praise or blame
In the press.
The folk of the stage
Live on publicity,
Yet to the world they pretend to dislike it,
Though wildly to me they plead for it, cry for it,
Oft times do that for it
Which must make the God Notoriety
Grin at the weakness of mortals.
I hold a terrible power
I hold a terrible power
And sometimes my own moderation
Amazes me,
For I can abase as well as elevate,
Tear down as well as build up.
I know all the ways of fair speaking
And can lead my favorites
To fame and golden rewards.
There are a thousand channels
Through which press agent can exploit
Its star or its movement
Never obvious but like the submarine
Submersible beneath the sea
Of publicity.
But I know, too, of the ways
That undo in Manhattan.
There are bacilli of rumor
That slip through the finest of filters
And defy the remedial serums
Of angry denial.
Pin a laugh to your tale
When stalking your enemy
And not your exile nor your death
Will stay the guffaws of merriment
As the story flies
Through the Wicked Forties
And on to the " Road."
Laughter gives the rumor strong wings.
Truly the press agent,
Who knows his psychology,
Likewise his New York
In all of its ramifications,
And has a nimble wit.
Can play fast and loose
With the lives of many.
Nevertheless he has no great reward.
And most in the theatre
Draw fatter returns than he.
Yet is he called upon to make the show,
To save the show,
But never is he given credit
Comparable to that which falls
Upon the slightest jester or singer or dancer
Who mugs, mimes, or hoofs in a hit.
Yet is the press agent happy;
He loves his work;
It has excitement and intrigue;
And to further the cause of beautiful women,
To discover the wonderful girls of the theatre,
And lead them in progress triumphal
Till their names outface the jealous night.
On Broadway, in incandescents.
Is in itself a privilege.
That compensates
For the wisdom of the cub reporter.
The amusement of the seasoned editor,
Shredding the cherished story
And uprooting the flourishing " plant ";
Makes one forgive
The ingratitude of artists arrived.
They who do not love me
I hope to have fear me;
There is only one hell.
And that is to be disregarded.



First Jazz Recordings on Youtube

That Funny Jas Band from Dixieland – Collins and Harlan 1916  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr8TCVov2cY

Livery Stable Blues: - Original Dixieland Jass Band 1917

Everybody Loves a ‘Jass’ Band – Arthur Fields  1917

When I Hear that ‘Jaz’ Band Play - Marion Harris 1917: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbMjatuycOE

The Jazz – Lazy Blues  Ford Dabney’s band with the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic 1917:

Danzones and Early Jazz Comparisons

Under the Bamboo Tree - Arthur Collins 1902

La Patti Negra -  Orquesta Pablo Valenzuela 1906:

Under the Bamboo Tree - Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band 1945

Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man - Fred Keppard with Cook’s Ginger Snaps 1926:

Stockyards Strut - Fred Keppard’s Jazz Cardinals 1926

Mabel’s Dream - King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band 1923


 Biographical Note                          From Congdon Families Internet site


Monday, February 9, 2009          Walter J. Kingsley (1876-1929)

Walter is a very interesting study. There are volumes of information out there about him as he was always closely aligned with the press. First as a journalist and then as a press representative for broadway and vaudeville. He is credited with coining the slogan "You Haven't Arrived Until You've Played the Palace!" He was born in western New York (either Holley or Batavia), got his first job working in Buffalo for his brother's local papers. Moved abroad and began writing for international papers covering among other things the Boer war and the Russo-Japanese conflict (more as a press agent for the Japanese image). He then came to Broadway and never left. He acted as press agent for many famous acts in Vaudeville and on Broadway. He pulled off many media coups to draw attention to his clients. He made claims of huge wagers on the America's Cup to draw attention to the underdog crew. He wrote letters to ethics boards about the scandalous nature of books and plays which peaked sales of novels and shows. He was well loved by the theatrical community and there were many op-eds and memorials written to him after his death.

Walter was married twice and had one female child with each wife. His first wife was Alma Hanlon, who was an up and coming silent movie star that had a very short career. They were married for 12 years (1905-1917) and their child was Dorothy Kingsley (b. 14 Oct 1909), who went on to a very successful screenwriting career. Walter then married Francesca Carmen (originally Francesca Sattler), a dancer from Budapest, Hungary. Their child was Gloria Kingsley, of which I have little information besides a birth month and year (Feb 1924).

Walter was found unconscious one day outside the New Amsterdam Theatre building, was taken to the New York Hospital, was thought to be recovering well but died 11 days later on 14 Feb 1929. Death was caused by cerebral spinal meningitis which was hastened by a recent attack of influenza. He was cremated and his wife cast his ashes from a plane flying over Broadway. His will was dated 3 years previous to his death and only mentioned his current wife. The total of the inheritance was $3000, which was considered a pittance for the lifestyle in which they lived.

[1] Roberts J.S. The Latin Tinge  OUP N.Y. Introduction px
[2] Hardie D. Early Jazz History, Oral Evidence and Pitfalls of Interpretation
[3] Osgood  H.O. So This is Jazz Boston, Little Brown1926 p 33
[4] Kingsley W.J . N.Y Sun  February 9 1919
[5] Kingsley W.J. Whence Comes Jazz: Facts from the Great Authority on the Subject  “Variously spelled Jas, Jass, Jaz, Jazz, Jasz, and Jascz.”   NY Sun August 5 1917
[6] Holbrook R. “In Praise of ‘Jazz’, a Futurist Word Which Has Just Joined the Language” Storyville Journal  Dec/Jan 1974
[7] Walter Kingsley papers 1899-1935 *T-Mss 2005-020 NY Public Library Billy Rose Theatre Division
[8] August 5 1917
[9] The Great Wine Way – an ironic allusion to Broadway theatre  district known at the time as the Great White Way and by association symbolic of the commercial theatre industry. Sometimes the term Gay White Way was used ironically.
[10]  Madrid A. L. and Moore R.D.  Danzon;Circum-Carribean Dialogues in Music and Dance. 2013 NY OUP
[11] Madrid A. L. and Moore R.D.  Danzon;Circum-Carribean Dialogues in Music and Dance. NY OUP 2013 p117
[12] Stewart J. Cuban Influences on New Orleans Music Essay accompanying the Arhoolie CD “The Cuban Danzón - Before There Was Jazz” - 1906 to 1929 CD 7032
[13] Described as “the glib master of baloney and hoopla” by an internet source How the Irish Invented Jazz   Daniel Cassidy - July 14, 2006 Http://www.Counterpunch.Org/2006/07/14/How-the-irish-invented-jazz/

[14] Benjamin R. Black Manhattan World Records Liner Notes http://www.newworldrecords.org/liner_notes/80611.pdf
[15] Fort Collins (Colo) Weekly Courier 23 November 1904
[16] Timbale is the Spanish word for timpani (kettledrums) a type of drum, consisting of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. Orquestas Tipicas often had 2 timbales large and small that were tuned to different pitches.

[17] Madrid A. L. and Moore R.D.  Danzon: Circum-Carribean Dialogues in Music and Dance. NY OUP 2013 p42
[18] See Tim Brooks New Orleans' First Record Label: Louis "Bebe" Vasnier and the Louisiana Phonograph Company, 1891 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Conference New Orleans paper 2010

[19] Suhor C. dixielandjazz@ml.islandnet.com Wed Oct 28 21:07:56 PDT 201
[20] An untuned instrument that is made from a gourd that has been carved or notched to create a ridged surface. The guiro is played by scraping the surface with a stick. Modern guiros are made of materials such as plastic, metal and wood.
[21] A keyed brass instrument similar to the tuba. It is a conical-bore keyed instrument belonging to the bugle family.
[22] So-called because it sounded tinny by comparison with the brass bands of the time. See Collins R. New Orleans Jazz – A Revised History  1996 Vantage Press p171
[23] (The band made a number of recordings as ‘Dabney’s Band with the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolics’ e.g. That’s It/The Jazz-Lazy Blues Aeolian 78 recording AEVO1218 November 1917)
[24] Gushee L, The Nineteenth Century Origins of Jazz” Black Music Research Journal (BMRJ)
[25] Sublette N. Cuba and Its Music From the First Drums to Mambo 2004 Chicago Review Press
[26] St Cyr J. Jazz as I Remember it http://www.doctorjazz.co.uk/jstcyrjj.html
[27] Rouse D. New Orleans Jazz and Caribbean Music  Potomac River Jazz Club (www.prjc.org) May 2002
[28] Handy W.C  Father of the Blues: an Autobiography  1941 Macmillan NY
[29] Handy W.C. above
[30] Rounder CD 1888 as the Spanish Tinge
[31] “The Spanish Tinge” by Jelly Roll Morton from The Complete Library of Congress Recordings (Recorded in 1938 during a series of interviews with Alan Lomax and released in entirety by Rounder Records in 2005 (RS CD 611898)).
See also  Doheny J. The Spanish Tinge Hypothesis: Afro-Caribbean Characteristics in Early New Orleans Drumming Jazz Archivist Vol. XIX 2005/2006Bottom of Form

[33] Al.Rose quoted in Roberts J.S. The Latin Tinge 1999 OUP p36
[34]Madrid A. L. and Moore R.D.  Danzon; Circum-Carribean Dialogues in Music and Dance. 2013 NY OUP p132
[35] Grenet Emilio Popular Cuban Music, 80 Revised and Corrected Compositions with an Essay on the Evolution of Music in  Cuba, trans R. Phillips Havana Secretary of Agriculture, 1939, p33

[37] Madrid A. L. and Moore R.D.  Danzon;Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance. 2013 NY OUP
[38] Madrid A. L. and Moore R.D.  Danzon;Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance. 2013 NY OUP
[39] "Livery Stable Blues" and "Dixieland  Jass Band One Step", Victor record 18255 recorded on February 26, 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band.
[40] My italics: Discant (descant) - the simultaneous performance of different versions of the same     melody by different voices or instruments.
[41] Collins R. New Orleans Jazz a Revised History Vantage Press NY 1996
[42] Hardie D. Jazz Historiography: the Story of Jazz History Writing iUniverse Bloomington 2013 p 429
[43] Hardie D. The Birth of Jazz: Reviving the Music of the Bolden Era 2007 iUniverse Lincoln Nebraska p103
[44] Sager David The Buddy Bolden Cylinder Meltdown: Presaging the Jazz Band on Record 2010 ARSC Conference New Orleans

[45] Edison Cylinder #18862
[46]Madrid A. L. and Moore R.D.  Danzon;Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance. 2013 NY OUP
[47] i.e.’two-beat’ emphasis
[48] Blesh R. Shining Trumpets A History Of Jazz 1958 NY Knopf Chapter 7
[49] Paper associated with “The Cuban Danzón”  Before There Was Jazz - 1906 to 1929
      Arhoolie CD 7032
[50] Jazz Archivist Vol IX:1 p2
[51] Suhor C. dixielandjazz@ml.islandnet.com Wed Oct 28 21:07:56 PDT 201
[52] Vreeland F.T. Jazz, Ragtime Bye-Product, Revives a Lost Art of Rhythm The Sun NY Sunday November 4 1917
[53] Kingsley W.J. The Appeal of the Primitive Jazz Literary Digest August 25, 1917
[54] Hardie D. Early Jazz History, Oral Evidence and Pitfalls of Interpretation http://darnhard.blogspot.com.au/
[55] See more detailed exposition in Hardie D. Historiography: The Story of Jazz History Writing 2013 Bloomington iUniverse p394
[56] Gushee L. Pioneers of Jazz: the Story of the Creole Band 2005 OUP p301
[57] Gushee L. Pioneers of Jazz: the Story of the Creole Band 2005 OUP p151
[58] Vreeland T. Jazz, Ragtime Bye-Product, Revives a Lost Art of Rhythm  4 Nov 1917 The Sun NY
[59] Gushee L. Pioneers of Jazz: the Story of the Creole Band 2005 OUP p204
[60] Jelly Roll Morton said “They really played jazz not just novelty and show stuff.”
    See Gushee L. Pioneers of Jazz: the Story of the Creole Band 2005 OUP p3
[61] Alexander S. The First Jazz Records http://www.redhotjazz.com/jazz1917.html

[62] Patterson W.M. The Rhythm of Prose: an Experimental Investigation of Individual Difference in the Sense of Rhythm, 1916 Columbia University press
[63] Alexander S. The First Jazz Records http://www.redhotjazz.com/jazz1917.html
[64] 1917
[65] Collier James Lincoln Jazz the American Theme Song OUP 1993 p97
[66]  Collier above p74
[67] Kingsley W. Jazz Has a Remarkable History as a Fad The Sun NY February 9 1919 ‘Jazz Has a Remarkable History as a Fad - Starting Twenty Years Ago in New Orleans It Has Swept From Coast to Coast and Is Invading Europe – Exponents in Bitter Dispute as to Origin – Broadway Historian Settles Question.’

[68] From Congdon Families internet site: http://congdonfamilies.blogspot.com/

[69] Edward L. Bernays, Samuel Hoffenstein ,Walter J. Kingsley, Murdock Pemberton. The Broadway Anthology 
New York Duffield & Company 1917