“TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. A year from now, we’ll be hearing a lot about the hundredth anniversary of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s first recording in February, 1917, which is usually cited as the first jazz record. But our jazz critic, Kevin Whitehead, says there are a couple of earlier records that may be contenders, one of them recorded on February 3, 100 years ago. Before we hear them, let’s hear the Original Dixieland Jazz Band from 1917.
(SOUNDBITE OF ORIGINAL DIXIELAND JAZZ BAND SONG, “DIXIELAND JASS BAND ONE STEP”)
KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: That’s the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in February, 1917. With “Dixieland Jass Band One Step,” the flip side of “Livery Stable Blues.” You can hear why folks call it the first jazz record, the way cornet, clarinet and trombone mix it up helped define New Orleans-style jazz. You can hear its military roots in that opening call to arms and ragtime behind the shambling beat. But there was a new breeziness to the rhythm. When the band repeat a section, you can hear they’re not really improvising as much as paraphrasing themselves. But it gives everything the right, off-book flavor. That’s hot stuff in 1917.
(SOUNDBITE OF ORIGINAL DIXIELAND JAZZ BAND SONG, “DIXIELAND JASS BAND ONE STEP”)“