The first use of the term "Dixieland" with reference to music was in the name of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, whose 1917 recordings fostered popular awareness of the new style of music. At that time, there was no issue of subgenres of jazz, so "Dixieland" referred to the band and not the music. A revival movement for traditional jazz, formed in reaction to the orchestrated sounds of the swing era and the perceived chaos of the new bebop sounds of the 1940s (referred to as "Chinese music" by Louis Armstrong), pulled "Dixieland" out from the somewhat forgotten band's name for the music they championed. The revival movement included elements of the Chicago style that developed during the 1920s, such as the use of a string bass instead of a tuba, and chordal instruments, in addition to the original format of the New Orleans style. That reflected the fact that virtually all of the recorded repertoire of New Orleans musicians was from the period when the format was already evolving beyond the traditional New Orleans format. "Dixieland" may in that sense be regarded as denoting the jazz revival movement of the 1940s and 1950s as much as any particular subgenre of jazz. The essential elements that were accepted as within the style were the traditional front lines consisting of trumpets, trombones, and clarinets, and ensemble improvisation over a 2-beat rhythm.
The Dixieland revival renewed the audience for musicians who had continued to play in traditional jazz styles and revived the careers of New Orleans musicians who had become lost in the shuffle of musical styles that had occurred over the preceding 20 to 25 years. Younger black musicians largely shunned the revival, largely because of a distaste for tailoring their music to what they saw as nostalgia entertainment for white audiences with whom they did not share such nostalgia. The Jim Crow associations of the name "Dixieland" also did little to attract younger black musicians to the revival.
The Dixieland revival music during the 1940s and 1950s gained a broad audience that established traditional jazz as an enduring part of the American cultural landscape, and spawned revival movements in Europe. Well-known jazz standard tunes such as "Basin Street Blues" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" are known even to non-jazz fans thanks to the enduring popularity of traditional jazz. The Vietnam-era protest song "Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" is based on tonal centers and the "B" refrain from the New Orleans standard "Muskrat Ramble". Traditional jazz is a major tourist attraction for New Orleans to the present day. It has been an influence on the styles of more modern players such as Charles Mingus and Steve Coleman.
New Orleans music combined earlier brass band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime, and blues with collective, polyphonic improvisation. The "standard" band consists of a "front line" of trumpet (or cornet), trombone, and clarinet, with a "rhythm section" of at least two of the following instruments: guitar or banjo, string bass or tuba, piano, and drums. The Dixieland sound is created when one instrument (usually the trumpet) plays the melody or a variation on it, and the other instruments improvise around that melody. This creates a more polyphonic sound than the heavily arranged big band sound of the 1930s or the straight melodies (with or without harmonizing) of bebop in the 1940s.
The "West Coast revival" began in the late 1930s in San Francisco which used banjo and tuba. The Dutch "old-style jazz" was played with trumpets, trombones and saxophones accompanied by a single clarinet, sousaphone and a section of Marching percussion usually including a washboard.
Dixieland is the name given to early jazz styles by traditional jazz revivalists, starting in the 1940s and 1950s. The name is a reference to the "Old South", specifically anything south of the Mason-Dixon line. The term encompasses earlier brass band marches, French Quadrilles, biguine, ragtime, and blues with collective, polyphonic improvisation. While instrumentation and size of bands can be very flexible, the "standard" band consists of a "front line" of trumpet (or cornet), trombone, and clarinet, with a "rhythm section" of at least two of the following instruments: guitar or banjo, string bass or tuba, piano, and drums. Louis Armstrong's All-Stars was the band most popularly identified with Dixieland during the 1940s, although Armstrong's own influence was to move the music beyond the traditional New Orleans style.
The definitive Dixieland sound is created when one instrument (usually the trumpet) plays the melody or a recognizable paraphrase or variation on it, and the other instruments of the "front line" improvise around that melody. This creates a more polyphonic sound than the arranged ensemble playing of the big band sound or the straight "head" melodies of bebop.
During the 1930s and 1940s, the earlier group-improvisation style fell out of favor with the majority of younger black players, while some older players of both races continued on in the older style. Though younger musicians developed new forms, many beboppers revered Armstrong and quoted fragments of his recorded music in their own improvisations.
The Dixieland revival in the late 1940s and 1950s brought many semi-retired musicians a measure of fame late in their lives as well as bringing retired musicians back onto the jazz circuit after years of not playing (e.g., Kid Ory and Red Nichols). Many Dixieland groups of the revival era consciously imitated the recordings and bands of decades earlier. Other musicians continued to create innovative performances and new tunes. For example, in the 1950s a style called "Progressive Dixieland" sought to blend polyphonic improvisation with bebop-style rhythm. Spike Jones & His New Band and Steve Lacy played with such bands. This style is sometimes called "Dixie-bop". Lacy went on to apply that approach to the music of Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, and Herbie Nichols.
While the term Dixieland is still in wide use, the term's appropriateness is a hotly debated topic in some circles. For some it is the preferred label (especially bands on the USA's West coast and those influenced by the 1940s revival bands), while others would rather use terms like Classic jazz or Traditional jazz. Some of the latter consider Dixieland a derogatory term implying superficial hokum played without passion or deep understanding of the music and because "Dixie" is a reference to pre Civil War Southern States.
Today there are three main active streams of Dixieland jazz:
"Chicago style" is often applied to the sound of Chicagoans such as Jimmy McPartland, Eddie Condon, Muggsy Spanier, and Bud Freeman. The rhythm sections of these bands substitute the string bass for the tuba and the guitar for the banjo. Musically, the Chicagoans play in more of a swing-style 4-to-the-bar manner. The New Orleanian preference for an ensemble sound is deemphasized in favor of solos. Chicago-style dixieland also differs from its southern origin by being faster paced, resembling the hustle-bustle of city life. Chicago-style bands play a wide variety of tunes, including most of those of the more traditional bands plus many of the Great American Songbook selections from the 1930s by George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. Non-Chicagoans such as Pee Wee Russell and Bobby Hackett are often thought of as playing in this style. This modernized style came to be called Nicksieland, after Nick's Greenwich Village night club, where it was popular, though the term was not limited to that club.
West Coast revival
The "West Coast revival" is a movement that was began in the late 1930s by Lu Watters and his Yerba Buena Jazz Band in San Francisco and extended by trombonist Turk Murphy. It started out as a backlash to the Chicago style, which is closer in development towards swing. The repertoire of these bands is based on the music of Joe "King" Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and W.C. Handy. Bands playing in the West Coast style use banjo and tuba in the rhythm sections, which play in a two-to-the-bar rhythmic style.
Famous traditional Dixieland tunes include: "When the Saints Go Marching In", "Muskrat Ramble", "Struttin' with Some Barbecue", "Tiger Rag", "Dippermouth Blues", "Milenberg Joys", "Basin Street Blues", "Tin Roof Blues", "At the Jazz Band Ball", "Panama", "I Found a New Baby", "Royal Garden Blues" and many others. All of these tunes were widely played by jazz bands of the pre-WWII era, especially Louis Armstrong. They came to be grouped as Dixieland standards beginning in the 1950s.
Dutch "Old-style jazz"
Largely occurring at the same time as the "New Orleans Traditional" revival movement in the United States, traditional jazz music made a come-back in the Low Countries. However, most Dutch jazz bands (such as The Ramblers) had long since evolved into the Swing-era while the few remaining traditional jazz bands (such as the Dutch Swing College Band) did not partake in the broader traditional revival movement, and continued to play ragtime and early jazz, greatly limiting the number of bands aspiring jazz musicians could join or (as they were using instruments unavailable to most Dutch musicians such as double basses and the piano) were forced to improvise, resulting in a new form of jazz ensemble generally referred to "Oude Stijl" ("Old Style") jazz in Dutch.
Influenced by the instrumentation of the two principal orchestral forms of the wind band in the Netherlands and Belgium, the "harmonie" and the "fanfare", traditional Dutch jazz bands do not feature a piano and contain no stringed instruments apart from the banjo. They include multiple trumpets, trombones and saxophones accompanied by a single clarinet, sousaphone and a section of Marching percussion usually including a washboard.
The music played by Dutch jazz bands includes both the original New Orleans tunes, as well as the songs of the revival era. In terms of playing style, Dutch jazz bands occupy a position between revivalist and original New Orleans jazz, with more solos than the latter but without abandoning the principle of ensemble playing. With the average band containing up to 15-players, Dutch jazz bands tend to be the largest ensembles to play traditional jazz music.
Styles influenced by traditional jazz
Musical styles showing influences from traditional jazz include later styles of jazz, rhythm and blues, and early rock and roll. Traditional New Orleans second-line drumming and piano playing are prominent in the music of Fats Domino. The New Orleans drummer Idriss Muhammed adapted second-line drumming to modern jazz styles and gained crossover influence on the R&B style of James Brown. Charles Mingus paid homage to traditional jazz styles with compositions such as Eat Dat Chicken and My Jellyroll Soul. The contemporary New Orleans Brass Band styles, such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Primate Fiasco, the Hot Tamale Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band have combined traditional New Orleans brass band jazz with such influences as contemporary jazz, funk, hip hop, and rap. The M-BASE (Multi-Basic Array of Synchronous Extemporization) improvisational concept used by ensembles including Cassandra Wilson, Geri Allen, Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, Graham Haynes, Kevin Eubanks and others is an extension of the polyphonic improvisation of New Orleans jazz.
Partial list of Dixieland musicians
Some of the artists historically identified with Dixieland are mentioned in List of jazz musicians. Some of the best-selling and famous Dixieland artists of the post-WWII era:
- Louis Armstrong All-Stars, organized in the late 1940s, featured at various times Earl "Fatha" Hines, Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall, Jack Teagarden, Trummy Young, Arvell Shaw, Billy Kyle, Marty Napoleon, Big Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole, Barrett Deems and Danny Barcelona.
- Kenny Ball, who had a top-40 hit with "Midnight in Moscow" in the early 1960s, is a leader of the British Trad movement.
- Eddie Condon, guitarist who led bands and ran a series of nightclubs in New York City and had a popular radio series. Successor bands played until the 1970s, and their mainstream style is still heard today, especially in touring bands led by cornetist Ed Polcer who was a co-owner of Condon's last nightclub in New York.
- Jim Cullum Jazz Band, led by cornetist Jim Cullum, based in San Antonio, Texas. Founded in 1962 in partnership with his late father, was originally known as the Happy Jazz Band. The Jim Cullum Jazz Band is currently featured on the long-running USA public radio series, Riverwalk Jazz. Cullum's Landing Jazz Club has been in continuous operation on the San Antonio Riverwalk since 1963.
- The Mission City Hot Rhythm Cats, co-led by cornetist David Jellema and former Jim Cullum Jazz Band trombonist Mike Pittsley, is a relatively new 6-piece San Antonio-based traditional jazz band composed of many former JCJB members.
- Steamboat Willie, a veteran musician of Dixieland, jazz and ragtime music still playing at the Cafe Beignet in New Orleans today.
- The Dukes of Dixieland, the Assunto family band of New Orleans. A successor band continues on in New Orleans today.
- Pete Fountain, late clarinetist who led popular bands in New Orleans.
- Al Hirt, trumpeter who had a string of top-40 hits in the 1960s, led bands in New Orleans until his death.
- Ward Kimball, leader of the Firehouse Five Plus Two based in Los Angeles.
- George Lewis was a New Orleans clarinetist featured at Preservation Hall in the 1960s, also led his own band.
- Turk Murphy, trombonist who led a band at Earthquake McGoons and other San Francisco venues from the late 1940s through the 1970s.
- Chris Tyle, cornetist, trumpeter, drummer, clarinetist, saxophonist, leader of the Silver Leaf Jazz Band. Also known as a jazz writer and educator. A member of the Jazz Journalists Association.
- In the United States, the largest traditional jazz festival, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, is held in Sacramento, California annually on Memorial Day weekend, with about 100,000 visitors and about 150 bands from all over the world. Other smaller festivals and jazz parties arose in the late 1960s as the rock revolution displaced many of the jazz nightclubs.
- The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana features jazz and many other genres by local, national, and internationally known artists.
- In Tarragona, Catalonia, the Tarragona International Dixieland Festival (Catalan: Festival Internacional Dixieland de Tarragona), Spain's only dixieland festival, has been held annually the week before Easter, since 1994, with 25 bands from all over the world and 100 performances in streets, theatres, cafés and hotels.
- In Dresden, Germany, a week-long international Dixieland festival has been held every year since 1970. The event culminates in a parade with floats.
- In Davenport, Iowa, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival is held on the Mississippi River waterfront each summer celebrating Dixieland music and the life of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, a 1920s musician from Davenport. It is combined with a prestigious road race, the "Bix 7".
- In Ghent, Belgium, every year during the second week of July there is an international Jazz festival
There are several active periodicals devoted to traditional jazz: The Mississippi Rag, the Jazz Rambler, and the American Rag published in the US; and to an extent Jazz Journal published in Europe.
Arguably the happiest of all music is Dixieland jazz. The sound of several horns all improvising together on fairly simple chord changes with definite roles for each instrument but a large amount of freedom, cannot help but sound consistently joyful.
By the mid-1930s the word 'Dixieland' was being applied freely to certain circles of white musicians. First by the trade press, then by the public. By the end of the decade it all all but lost any direct 'Southern' association.
- Baraka, Amiri (1999). Blues People: Negro Music in White America. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0688184742.
- Davis, Miles & Troupe, Quincy (1990). Miles: The Autobiography. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-63504-2.
- "Festival Internacional de Dixieland — Ajuntament de Tarragona". tarragona.cat.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 124. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 132. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Jazz History Database
- Dixieland Jazz – John P. Birchall
- Listen to Australian Graeme Bell's 'Swanston St Shamble' and 'Two Day Jag' on australianscreen online