Original Dixieland Jazz Band: The Darktown Strutters' Ball


The Darktown Strutters' Ball


Original Dixieland Jazz Band


The Creators of Jazz (Avid 702)

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Nick LaRocca (cornet), Eddie Edwards (trombone), Larry Shields (clarinet), Henry Ragas (piano), Tony Sbarbaro (drums).

Composed by Shelton Brooks


Recorded: New York, May 31, 1917


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

"Darktown Strutters' Ball" stems from the cakewalk, a popular Southern spectator sport in which pre-bellum slaveholders rewarded their best dancing minions with, à la Marie Antoinette, a piece of cake. By 1917, with the all-white ODJB absurdly billed as The Creators of Jazz, ofays themselves were traveling in taxis to "dance out both my shoes" at nightspots presenting hot music—and if they wanted cake, they had to pay extra. Surprisingly, "Darktown Strutters' Ball" doesn't sound like five white stiffs clumsily pilfering black music. Jim Crow was their guardian angel, but these skilled instrumentalists had a genuine feel for jazz.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz


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