Traditional Jazz began in New Orleans at the start of the 20th Century. The name came from The Original Dixieland Jass Band. "Jass" was changed to "Jazz" around 1917.
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Trad Jazz had a revival after the Swing and Beebop era of the 1940's, although it is said to span the 1930's through the 1950's in the U.S. and Europe.
The New Orleans style of Trad Jazz had its resurgence with tuba providing a strong base note and a marching band style. A trumpet played the melody while other instruments improvised together and in solos.
The Chicago resurgence replaced the tuba with a string bass plus other stringed instruments, like banjo and guitar, in a strong, fast-paced, two-beat rhythm with improvisational solos.
Chicago-style musicians were Jimmy McPartland, Eddie Condon, Mugsy Spanier, Bud Freeman, PeeWee Russell and Bobby Hackett.
Cole Porter, George Gergshwin, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin also played elements of Trad Jazz in Chicago-style, sometimes called "Nicksieland" after Nick's Greenwich Village Nightclub where the music was popular.
The West Coast revival began in the 1930's with Lu Watters and his Yerba Buena Jazz Band. West Coast bands used both banjo and tuba, plus brass horns and a washboard with improvisation and solos blasting two-to-the-bar tempos.
Trombonist Turk Murphy broke Trad Jazz barriers, veering away from the Nicksieland Swing style of Chicago Trad Jazz and reviving the sounds of Joe "King" Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and W.C. Handy, who is celebrated in this documentary.. Turk Murphy also recorded some sessions for PBS Sesame Street segments. (See video list below.)
Around the same time, a Trad Jazz revival took place in the Low Countries (coastal areas ) of The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, notably with the Dutch Swing College Band, who focused on Ragtime and New Orleans-Style Trad Jazz. These bands are larger than most Trad Jazz bands with as many as fifteen musicians, among the largest bands playing Trad Jazz today.
Noted Trad Jazz Festivals:
- The Sacramento Jazz Jubilee (ceased in 2017)
- The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
- Internationales Dixieland Festival (Dresden, Germany)
- The Bix Biederbecke Memorial Jazz Festival (Davenport, Iowa)
- Ghent Jazz Festival (Ghent, Belgium)
Bix Beiderbecke and his Band
Traditional Jazz publications:
- Mississippi Rag (now defunct, but online at WorldCat)
- Jazz Rambler/Syncopated Times
- American Rag (also now defunct)
- Jazz Journal (in the United Kingdom)
The term "Dixieland" is not used by many contemporary Trad Jazz musicians due to its association with racist Jim Crow laws in the South. "Trad Jazz" is the preferred term.
Enjoy some music from YouTube by clicking on names in this partial list of Trad Jazz greats.
Kings of Trad Jazz:
Queens of Trad Jazz:
Contemporary Trad Jazz performers: