Thursday, February 16, 2017

When the Jazz Wars Went Global * Ken Colyer & The First Traditional Jazz Band

Below is a short but fascinating YouTube video detailing the outbreak of one theater of the jazz wars: Great Britain in the late 1940s. Around that time, trumpeter Ken Colyer espoused the idea that real, traditional New Orleans Jazz had never left the city of its birth and that those who had moved to Chicago in the 1920s (King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Noone, et al) represented an innovation. Following the light of his hero, Bunk Johnson, and determined to prove his thesis, he joined the Merchant Navy and worked his way to New Orleans where he sat in with many bands, including George Lewis's.

The result, both before and after his trip, was a split within the British jazz scene between New Orleans Revivalists and New Orleans Traditionalists. However hair splitting that might sound (it actually isn't), the creative tension and dedication of the musicians involved produced decades worth of extraordinary jazz.

Chris Barber, Monty Sunshine, and other seminal figures make appearances in this video--it's a great introduction to the vitality of the professional jazz scene and what players were willing to do for their art in the UK of the '40s and '50s.


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