Varis Leichtman Studio
Listening Party: Finding the Lost Clarinetist of the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band
A Discographical Panel Discussion hosted by Phil Schaap and featuring Evan Christopher, Vince Giordano, Al Vollmer, and Dr. Michael White
Tonight our panel of experts will ask the question, and hope to find an answer to one of Jazz’s great discographical questions: “Who plays clarinet on the Columbia Records by the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band done in sessions of October 15th and 16th in 1923?”
During the Swing Era, when Jazz scholarship began and Jazz enthusiasm crested, there was already no doubt that the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band recordings were supreme among all surviving music from Jazz’s dawn. This widespread perception, however, was limited by the limited information about the band and its recording sessions; a problem furthered by the rarity of the 78RPM discs that had all been out-of-print since the late 1920s. Over the last 75 years, many of the blank spots have been filled in. All of the music is in print! The analysis and specifics as to who plays what on which of the surviving recordings has in all but a few cases been pinned down.
Surprisingly, one of the last unanswered questions about the recordings by the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band is one that was first asked and asked so early that even King Oliver, who died April 8, 1938, might have weighed in on it. Several people who were in the band or were associated with it did respond to the question. Respondents to the question even included the three people who were considered for the credit and honor of being the clarinetist!
All the primaries to the performing and the original research are dead. With the exception of Oliver’s regular clarinetist Johnny Dodds who died on August 8, 1940 and the most likely substitute for him in mid-October 1923, Jimmie Noone, who died on April 19, 1944, Phil Schaap had contacted them all. The last to leave us was Lawrence Gushee. Jazz at Lincoln Center has used its Discographical Symposiums to reach a final answer to questions Professor Gushee had left unresolved when he died in early 2015. On Wednesday March 29th at 7pm, Jazz at Lincoln Center, world class scholars, four of five play single reeds, will convene in the Irene Diamond Education Center’s Varis and Leichtman Studio and try to come to a final analysis and possibly a unanimous consensus.
Phil Schaap will moderate and take part in the voting with symposium members: Evan Christopher, Vince Giordano, Al Vollmer, and Dr. Michael White.
Frederick P. Rose Hall, 5th floor
Broadway and 60th Street