Jazz History As Students Remember It…
Some memorable test answers from college Jazz History exams and concert reports I’ve given:
Jazz was affected by the economy in WWII – people didn’t go out very often because there was a shortage of rubbers. (Actually, the demise of the Big Band era was hastened by a wartime shortage of rubber … for tires … for the buses.)
Difference between a big band and a combo?
A big band performs with a male singer and a combo uses a female singer.
The instrument in Free Jazz most likely to be omitted is the drums, because with everybody doing their own thing there’s no use trying to keep the beat.
A stride pianist is a person who sits astride on the piano bench. Also, when the music is strident, it’s probably a stride pianist.
The difference between a rural Blues singer and a Classic Blues singer is the Rural Blues singer is shorter. (The songs are shorter – not the singers)
Not only did Bessie Smith record for Columbia, she also made videos for them. (Ah, MTV circa 1932)
Louise Armstrong was the first great Jazz musician. No, it was Lois Armstrong. (Armstrong’s wife had no idea!)
A ‘hot Jazz’ band is on fire. A ‘Mickey Mouse’ band plays at Disneyworld.
From concert reports:
“The pianist used crescendos and archipelagos in his solo.”
“The trumpeter put a muzzle on his horn to keep it quiet while the bassist played with his hands around its neck.”
More brilliant concert reportage:
“The bass player didn’t do any walking because there wasn’t enough room on the stage.”
“The two soloists competed like an old fashioned carving contest.” (He means ‘cutting contest’)
And finally, my favorite:
“The piano and the bass started the tune silently.”