The Mystery Man Buddy Bolden-The ‘Father Of Jazz’-Maybe?

August 21, 2009  
Filed under Music

My curiosity about Buddy Bolden increases exponentially as I am able to gather scanter & scanter evidence about his life. Many early pioneers of jazz, such as Jelly Roll Morton, have assigned him & his band members the moniker, ‘Father of Jazz.’ It will be impossible, at this point, to ever prove this. There are no extant recordings of Buddy Bolden, although trombonist Willy Cornish claimed that one phonograph cylinder was made. My theory about this matter of exclusive invention of a ‘form of music:’ IT IS AN IMPOSSIBILITY. These matters are always collaborative, always have an evolutionary property to them. It was pure histrionics, in Stanley Kubrick`s 2001, when the ape lifts the bone to the sky, eureka, I`ve invented a weapon to kill my enemies with! Let me just list a few items that I have heard of in the way of Buddy Bolden`s contribution to jazz.BuddyBolden

He merged ragtime with the blues *(how so, I do not know?). He let the band be looser, an early version of improvisation began to appear. Brass instruments, such as cornet (Buddy`s), trombone, & clarinet were up front more, & brass played the blues, ragtime, & indigenous black music (gospel & church spirituals I suppose?) for the first time. Another twist to this, that is particular to New Orleans, is that Bolden played in Storyville, and this may have ‘opened up’ the musicians more. Buddy himself succumbed to alcohol poisoning & was taken away by the boys in white. I want to read Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje. Anyway, more primary research is needed on Buddy Bolden. “I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say, Funky-butt, take it away.”

*Leo Fender (think Telecaster) played an important role in the emergence (the word invention is a slippery slope) of the solid-body electric guitar (thanks, Thomas Durnin at KOOP)!

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