Friday, June 15, 2007

Dipper Mouth Blues, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band

Dipper Mouth Blues, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, April 8, 1923

King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, cornets
Honore Dutrey, trombone
Johnny Dodds, clarinet
Lil Hardin Armstrong, piano
Bill Johnson, banjo
Baby Dodds, drums

Joe "King" Oliver was Louis Armstrong's mentor. He brought him into his band in New Orleans and later, after establishing his band in Chicago, sent for young Louis to join him. This recording is fairly typical of their best work, representing New Orleans style collective improvisation as it was played in Chicago in the early twenties. The recording itself was done in Richmond, Indiana, in a studio so close to the train tracks they had to keep the schedule handy to avoid recording train noises.

Texture in music refers to the number of separate voices heard; polyphonic texture is when those voices operate more or less independently of each other. Now, they play very much together - this is not chaos - but each player fits in by improvising his or her line.

It is an up-tempo blues number. The title refers to chewing tobacco, or, to the mouth that uses it, or it is a synecdoche (part for whole) referring to the person who chews tobacco.

Introduction 0 - 4
The ensemble starts it rolling.

First 12-bar blues chorus 5 - 20

This is New Orleans collective improvisation. There is no score, all the players know their parts and play together. Both the trumpet and the trombone are muted, and the rhythm is carried by the banjo, with the clarinet in the high registers.
A 5-9
A 10 - 14
B 15 - 20

Second 12-bar blues chorus 21 - 34

Also collective improvisation. Both opening choruses demonstrate the New Orleans style perfectly, with the trumpet leading, the trombone carrying the lower tones and the clarinet filling in from the upper register.

Third 12-bar blues chorus 35 - 50

This is Johnny Dodds taking a solo on the clarinet. His accompaniment plays in stop time.

Fourth blues chorus 51 - 1:06

Dodds continues his solo in this chorus, as above.

Fifth blues chorus 1:07 - 1:21

Collective improvisation, with the two cornets playing together. I can not tell them apart.

Sixth blues chorus 1:22 - 1:37

King Oliver solos here on the wa-wa muted cornet.

Seventh blues chorus 1:38 - 1:51

Oliver's second cornet solo using the plunger mute

Eighth blues chorus 1:52 - 2:07

Oliver leads the collective improvisation to Baby Dodds's vocal break, Oh, play that thing!

Ninth blues chorus 2:08 - 2:22

Coda 2:23 - 2:28