Chapter 6 in website
dissonance is central to Western musical practice including jazz.
For historical and psychoacoustical reasons, certain notes go together in ways that are
unstable, that is, they sound as if some other groups of notes should follow, this second
group being relatively stable (consonance). When this happens, it is said that the
dissonant interval, or chord, or note, resolves to a consonant interval, or chord, or note.
Intervals can be dissonant or consonant, chords can be dissonant of consonant because of
the kinds of intervals contained in them, and notes can be dissonant or consonant in
relation to other notes of the chord.
Go to the virtual keyboard (or a piano) and play two notes directly adjacent to each other.
This interval (the distance between two notes) is usually considered to be dissonant.
Now play two white keys that have one white key between them. This interval is
usually considered consonant.
First, what is considered to be dissonant and what is considered to be consonant has
changed over history. Second, this is not morality. Consonance is not "good", and
dissonance "bad". Rather it is the interplay between consonance and dissonance that
makes music interesting and gives it motion.
This chapter considers the landmark career of jazz revolutionary and pop icon Louis
Armstrong and his effect on creating jazz as a solo art. We begin with the arc of
Armstrong's career from New Orleans to Chicago and New York, detailing his
interactions with the music of his hometown (King Oliver), the new big-band dance
music (Fletcher Henderson), and the classic blues (Bessie Smith). We then move back to
Chicago and Armstrong's landmark Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings (1926-28), which
bridged older, New Orleans-style collective improvisation with the new emphasis on
soloing, often aided by pianist Earl Hines.
Armstrong influenced two important soloists: Bix Beiderbecke, who represents the
pinnacle of young white interest in jazz, and Coleman Hawkins, whose canny
understanding of Armstrong's achievements launched a lengthy career
Louis Armstrong (1901-1971)
He is the most important figure in the history of jazz. He transformed a social music into art and a place where a musician, regardless of race or
geography, could find a voice.
He was a central influence as an instrumentalist and as a vocalist.
He was also very popular at a time when jazz was considered primitive and degenerate.
He soothed fears and neutralized dissent
Proved that improvised music could have the weight and durability of written music
Blues: established it as jazz's harmonic foundation when most saw it as a mere fashion.
He countered the trends of the broadway shows and commercial
dance bands. He established the blues scale and blues feeling as
jazz’s harmonic foundation
Improvisation: established jazz as music that prizes individual expression, above and
Singing: introduced a jazz vocal style using scat, loose phrasing with lyrics, which
influenced later vocal stars such as Bing Crosby and Billie
-- he was dependant on mastery of pitch and time as well as fast
reflexes and imagination.
Repertory: created masterworks based on Tin Pan Alley songs, not just original New
Orleans themes, showing that jazz could expand musically and
commercially. Came from pop tunes, hymns, blues and classical
works from the south.
Rhythm: introduced swing
These five contributions were introduced in ways defying conventional ideas about art
and put American music on a par with European and Russian
Although he came from bleak beginnings, he had a long and fruitful career in music and
later in movies. He did not simply peak during the 1920s. He helped
spearhead swing and persevered through bop and fusion even though he
Born to an unwed teenager in 1902 in a devastated New Orleans area. When his mother
showed him her hometown in the country, Armstrong saw a different kind
of life. At age seven, he was working two jobs. He received his first cornet from the immigrant
Jewish family that owned one of the businesses that Louis worked for. In
1913 he was arrested for shooting blanks and sent to the New Orleans
Colored Waif's Home for 18 months, where he received rudimentary
musical instruction; he was made leader of the band before he left. After
discharge, Louis took lessons from Joe Oliver.
In 1918 he started playing in saloons and parades, often with his own trio (with bass and
drums), playing mostly blues. When Oliver left for Chicago, he suggested
that Armstrong take his place in the band with co-leader Kid Ory.
Later that year he started working on Mississippi riverboat excursions. He spent three
years with the Streckfus Steamboat Line under the musical leadership of
Fate Marable, who played the calliope. During this time Armstrong:
Became a better music reader; learned to adapt New Orleans music to written
Learned songs beyond the New Orleans repertory
Experienced a new kind of audience (white)
Acclimatized to the life of a traveling musician lifelong pattern
With Oliver in Chicago
Marable did not let Armstrong sing, so he quit in 1921 to return to Ory's band. He
became well known in the area. Ethel Waters, while traveling with her
pianist Fletcher Henderson, attempted to lure him to New York, but he
stayed in New Orleans. In 1922, he was invited to join Oliver's band in
Chicago at the Lincoln Gardens.
He usually played second trumpet (there were a few exceptions, such as "Dippermouth
Blues"). He astonished musicians with his harmonizing trumpet breaks
with Oliver and the brilliance of his timbre. By 1924 he left Oliver with
the encouragement of his second wife, Lil Hardin (the pianist in Oliver's
band), and went to New York at the invitation of Fletcher Henderson.
With Henderson in New York
This was a crucial time for jazz and Armstrong. Henderson hired the best black musicians
of the day. Armstrong was considered an old-fashioned country rube by the slick New York musicians of the Henderson band, but only until they heard his
originality, blues feeling, and rhythmic drive.
He also made many recordings with blues divas such as Bessie Smith and others. He
recorded with Sidney Bechet on the Clarence Williams Blue Five sessions.
combined the breezy entertainment of Southern vaudeville with the sweeping
exuberance of a lean New Orleans-style ensemble
Armstrong recorded more than thirty-six times with Henderson in fourteen months,
during which he:
Influenced Redman's arrangements
Made the blues more a part of the band's sound
Increased the prominence of the band's beat with longer solos
Set the standard for other players in the Henderson band as well as other bands
Because Henderson would not let him sing, he left in 1925 and returned to Chicago.
The Hot Five
In Chicago he played in a pit orchestra that played for silent movies and intermission
music. By the end of 1925 OKeh Records asked to him record as a leader.
He chose Lil Hardin and three musicians whom he had worked with in
New Orleans: Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), and Kid
Ory (trombone). Using varying personnel, Armstrong made sixty-five
recordings with the Hot Five and Hot Seven.
These were very important recordings in that they mark:
The change from polyphony to showcasing soloists
The move from embellishments to improvisation
The move from breaks to full chorus solos or more
The move from multiple ragtime-like strains to single-theme choruses of pop songs and
"Hotter Than That"
Recorded in 1927. The thirty-two-bar chorus is based on a New Orleans favorite, "Tiger
Rag," originally recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in
1918. Lonnie Johnson joins in on guitar as a soloist, which was
There is no written melody, just improvisation (including a trumpet solo, scat singing,
and trading between Armstrong and Johnson) and complex three- beat figures.
Enter Earl Hines (1903-1983)
In 1926 Armstrong was asked to be the feature soloist with the Carroll Dickerson
Orchestra at the Sunset Café in Chicago. Dickerson also hired pianist Earl
Hines had an idiosyncratic style, which included soloing like a horn, using octaves and
tremolos as well as single notes, and accompaniment using playful
rhythms combining on-the-beat, boogie-woogie, and stride rhythms.
Armstrong and Hines hit it off immediately. Armstrong had him record with the Hot Five
in 1928 and took him to New York the same year.
These recordings were considered an advance on the earlier Hot Fives. Polyphony
generally disappeared (of new Orleans), to be replaced by solos and
homophonic textures that characterize jazz to this day.
Written by Armstrong for Oliver and recorded with him in 1923. It is structured like the
traditional three-strain ragtime; each strain is sixteen bars long.
A good deal of friendly battling occurs here.
The Armstrong Impact: A Generation of Soloists
Before Armstrong, bands reflected the abilities of their leaders or took an ensemble
Armstrong changed that tradition by inspiring a new generation of musicians, both black
and white, who were interested in unfettered improvisation. With
Armstrong jazz had the potential to become universal.
By 1929, a number of musicians were following Armstrong's example of the starring
soloist. Composers also had to make use of these emerging soloists.-->
bix birderbecke and coleman Hawkins
Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931)
Beiderbecke was born in Davenport Iowa. He had an exceptionally good musical ear. He
became famous as a cornet player but also knew his way around a piano.
He belonged to the generation that learned jazz from recordings. Recordings had three influences on the dissemination of jazz:
Young people could hear jazz no matter where they lived.
Solos could be learned and memorized through repeated listening to a recording.
Recordings helped young players to break away from tradition.
At the age of fourteen, Beiderbecke was deeply affected by the Original Dixieland Jazz
Band recordings when they first came out. He taught himself the New
Orleans style of cornet playing through recordings and live performances
on the Streckfus steamers that visited Davenport. Both these activities
dismayed his parents.
He neglected his schoolwork so in 1921 his parents sent him to a boarding school, which
happened to be within train-hopping distance to Chicago. Beiderbecke took full
advantage, regularly visiting clubs like the Lincoln Gardens, where he heard King Oliver
and Armstrong. He was expelled in 1923 when he joined the first band of northern whites
to imitate New Orleans ensembles: the Wolverines. In 1924 they recorded for Gennett.
In 1924 he made some recordings with the Sioux City Six, which included C-melody
saxophonist Frank Trumbauer (1901-1956). Trumbauer had a strong
influence on Lester Young and Benny Carter.
Beiderbecke and Trumbauer became close friends and the figureheads for a generation of
white musicians referred to as the Austin High School Gang. Other
musicians who were associated with this group included Beiderbecke,
Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and others. They created the Chicago
style, which started out as an imitation of New Orleans jazz but later
became more rhythmic and combined soloing with polyphonic
--he introduced a delicacy to the jazz sax that made an indelible
impression on several black sax player such as beny carter and lester
For young white musicians, being involved with jazz was an act of rebellion, but for
blacks this wasn't the case.
Beiderbecke died young from the effects of alcoholism. Although a featured soloist with
the popular Paul Whiteman band, he was largely unknown during his
He recorded between 1924 and 1930, but his career reached its zenith in the recordings
made in 1927 with Trumbauer and guitarist Eddie Lang (1902-1933). "Singin' the Blues"
This is one of the most imitated records of all time. The performance had three novel
0 The source is a popular song.
1 The melody is never actually played until after the cornet solo,
2 The tempo and feeling are indicative of a ballad.
Both Trumbauer's and Beiderbecke's solos are famous, as is Lang's accompaniment.
Fletcher Henderson recorded a version of Trumbauer's solo. His famous trumpeter, Rex
Stewart, often played Beiderbecke's solo note for note, and words
were put to it in 1935. Beiderbecke is quite different from
Armstrong-he is more subdued, yet still swings.
Coleman Hawkins (1904-1960)