This recording is the soundtrack from a 1958 original kinescope film which is now a Nobility Studios DVD, “Jazz Greats of Old New Orleans.”
New Orleans is the undisputed birthplace of Dixieland Jazz, and in 1958, the living musicians who actually originally created Dixieland Jazz were getting old, and the younger artists needed to be identified with those masters who taught them. It was decided to gather together as many prominent Dixieland musicians as the spacious studio could comfortably accommodate, and then just let them hoot it out for the pure joy of making the music and preserving the event permanently for all the world to see.
And what a hoot it is!
Although never before appearing all together in the same band, these folks feel and understand this music and each other in a way that only the most accomplished musicians can understand, and in a way that brings genuine enjoyment to the rest of us.
This is traditional Dixieland Jazz by many of the musicians who created the music and the tradition. This means that the music must have stylistic elements which distinctly recall familiar music in a new way; the tradition is in the refreshment. Even a new composition is immediately recognizable as Dixieland by the peculiarities of the novel refreshment. The music in this recording is particularly exciting because it becomes obvious that the musicians are coming to know one another during the course of performance.
Indeed, while New Orleans has always been known for comparatively easy relations between the races, in 1958 it was still unusual for black and white musicians to share the same stage with equal footing; so, the very notion of musical “introductions” to each other has special significance.
Of course, New Orleans has a long history of occupation under many flags and with many peoples – Indians, Blacks, French, Spanish, English. So it is important to note the names of the musicians: French Creole, Spanish, Italian, English, and finally, Americans all. The famous jazz names and tunes will all be familiar to the jazz buff, but the whole great ensemble will be distinctly unfamiliar. The musicians are saying, “we’re going to make this work out just fine” – and they do – to the very great pleasure of anyone who listens.