Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Riverside History of Classic Jazz

Here it is, in all its' 5 disc and 18 pages of liner notes glory!

I'm gonna do this up as 5 separate archives, plus an archive of the liner notes in actual size...

I got this set years ago in Portland, Oregon, for the sum total of fifteen bucks... because the discs were about three steps from TRASHED! The binder has finally fallen apart, the sleeves are all ripping out at the bottom, there was even some white mold-like residue on one of the discs.

The set starts out with a "roots of jazz" type thing, going back to field recordings of African chants and Southern street vendors calling out their wares. It then goes to the early days at the turn of the 20th Century ragtime, early blues, and boogie-woogie, then develops from there, to examples of Chicago and New York, then goes on to the revival of 'hot jazz' in the late 1940s. Riverside released this in 1956, with remasters done by Reeves Sound Studios, and a discography by Orrin Kepnews.

In the discography pages, however, there are a BUNCH of hand-written corrections... so I wonder who had this set before I did... one GLARING error is on side 9, to be specific, the Muggsy Spanier track is labelled on the disc and in the discography as "Lonesone Road", when, in fact it is "Muskrat Ramble"! There are a couple of other personnel corrections in the notes as well, I'll leave you to figure out who and what...

Anyway, let us get the ball rolling...
Disc One ('Backgrounds' and 'Ragtime')
Disc Two ('The Blues' and 'New Orleans Style')
Disc Three ('Boogie Woogie' and 'South Side Chicago')
Disc Four ('Chicago Style' and 'Harlem')
Disc Five ('New York Style' and 'New Orleans Revival')

...and here is the link to the 18 pages of liner notes for you to read at your leisure. There are some good photos in there, as well...

You'll note that this collection is VERY heavily leaning towards the Dixieland-style, or "hot" jazz, as opposed to what jazz had already turned into (that being swing), and where it was going (bop, cool, and third-stage, to name a few styles). Whether it was a desire to chronicle the 'classic' period, or maybe an effort to help 'right the boat' as some saw it, it is not known... what I do know is this: this is a darn good compendium of where 'trad jazz' started and where it was going, even if it had, by 1956, crumpled itself into a niche that it would never really escape from.

...except for the many avid fans of Trad Jazz, of course :)

These are great recordings. I appreciate your posting them. However, I cannot get Disc 4 to work.
Bob Linn
I had an issue with disc 4 so I am redoing it, should be up in a day or so...

my apologies!
Disc 4 is up on the site now!

Thanks for waiting :)
No, thank you! Don K.
Thanks for your jazzstory.
Specially I appreciated the Bessie's "st. louis blues".
The best female voice of all time, second me. She moving me. But..what a version, I did not know it!!
I knew the classic version only. This version shocked me. A perfect mix of white and black roots. The result is amazing and upsetting: pure 'film' art in music.
Thanks to have acquaintance done me this song.
I finally was able to start listening to the Riverside recordings. Thanks for posting them. My wife said that the Bessie Smith St. Louis Blues sounded as if she had wandered into some kind of surreal competition with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Thanks so much for the recordings :)

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