1924 Fletcher Henderson Gets a Shot of Pops

     In late 1924, the burgeoning career of Louis Armstrong ("Pops") began to intersect with several other trailblazers of classic jazz, most notably Sidney Bechet (in the Red Onion house band and in Clarence Williams' Blue Five combo) and shortly afterwards in a string of sessions with the Fletcher Henderson band in New York. Armstrong and Bechet would sustain a somewhat competitive relationship throughout their parallel careers, but Pops had a more decisive effect on Henderson tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, pushing the young "Bean" to develop his own solo voice.. Still under the radar, bandleader Duke Ellington and trumpet player Bix Beiderbecke also began their respective recording careers.

Cornetist Louis Armstrong meets clarinet/soprano sax player Sidney Bechet in the Red Onion Jazz Babies ("Texas Moaner Blues", "Cake Walking Babies (from home)", etc). This band plays in the polyphonic New Orleans style.
"Cake Walking Babies (From Home)", rec. Dec 22, 1924 for Gennett.
  • 0:00: Theme in 8 and 12 bar sections.
  • 0:42: Theme: 1st 8 bars.
  • 0:58: Vocal version of theme (20 bars).
  • 1:37: 8-bar chorus with 1 bar Bechet sax break, then 12-bar chorus w 4 bar Armstrong cornet break in the middle.
  • 2:19: Chorus with 1 bar trombone break, 4 bar Bechet sax break.
This tune was also recorded by the same personnel for Okeh on Jan 8, 1925 as Clarence Williams' Blue Five.
Louis Armstrong joins Fletcher Henderson’s band, influencing Coleman Hawkins and band arranger Don Redman.
  • 0:00: Intro led by brass break, then winds.
  • 0:17: Theme led by winds, repeat.
  • 0:42: Armstrong cornet solo over theme changes.
  • 0:55: Accent cadence (2x).
  • 1:12: Bridge with winds break, repeated with echoed brass cadence.
  • 1:29: Intro reprise (led by high winds, then low winds).
  • 1:45: Trombone breaks lead off 2 choruses.
  • 2:11: Bridge featuring clarinet (with banjo breaks).
  • 2:28: Intro reprise, accented cadences, intro figure, falling coda.
Armstrong's cornet and Henderson's piano are recorded as a duo supporting blues singer Maggie Jones on "Anybody Here Want To Try My Cabbage?" and "Good Time Flat Blues" (Louis Armstrong: Portrait of a Young Man).
"Anybody Here Want To Try My Cabbage?"
  • 0:00: Intro turnaround.
  • 0:12: 1st verse (AA section) in dialogue with Armstrong.
  • 0:36: B section, A section.
  • 0:58: 2nd verse.
  • 1:42: Armstrong cornet solo (AA).
  • 2:08: Vocal returns for B section in stop-time rhythm.
  • 2:20: Armstrong finishes solo over A section.
  • 2:31: 3rd verse (AABA).

Paul Whiteman's white dance band performs Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" in NYC.
Duke Ellington’s Washingtonians record, and spend the next 3 years developing an original sound.
Bix Beiderbecke (cornet) and the Wolverines record for Gennett. Beiderbecke also meets C-melody saxophonist Frank Trumbauer in the Sioux City Six. In a very brief career, Bix defines a more "cool" style of soloing, compared to Armstrong's "hot" blowing.
"Riverboat Shuffle" (Wolverines):
  • 0:00: Intro: comprised of several different accented figures (AA).
  • 0:16: B section of intro, followed by A variation.
  • 0:26: AABA theme with breaks (inc. brass, piano, trumpet).
  • 1:06: Beiderbecke cornet solo with breaks.
  • 1:48: 2 theme choruses with breaks (cornet, clarinet, guitar, sax), final accent.
Pianist Jelly Roll Morton duets with cornetist Joe "King" Oliver ("Tom Cat", "King Porter").  

1923 Satchmo and Jelly Roll Go Into the Studio

     1923 was notable for several reasons, the most notable being that it was the year debut recordings were made of soon-to-be giants Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton.

Louis Armstrong, Joe King Oliver, 1922
     Armstrong joined Joe "King" Oliver's "Creole Jazz Band" in Chicago and together they did an historic engagement at Lincoln Gardens on East 31st Street. It was during this time that, despite his supportive role as 2nd cornet, Armstrong began to develop his own voice and to hint at a new style of classic jazz which would soon be driven by instrumental soloists, rather than a collective, improvisatory polyphony (highlighted by short "breaks").

     Jelly Roll Morton had been traveling around the States for a few years, but in 1923 he settled in Chicago and made his first recordings for Gennett, from a series of solo piano sessions. Morton is generally considered as the first great "jazz composer". Although he learned from ragtime pioneer Scott Joplin, he took jazz further into platforms for swing and improvisation. A few years later, these piano renditions would provide the blueprint for future pioneer sides with his "classic" band, the Red Hot Peppers.

In Chicago, King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (with Louis Armstrong) records “Chimes Blues”, features Louis Armstrong’s 1st recorded solo.

"Chimes Blues" (April 5/6, 1923)
  • 0:00: Intro cadence, Theme 1 chorus led by cornets (repeat).
  • 0:41: Theme 2 with swooping winds and "chiming" piano (repeat).
  • 1:16: Theme 2 in a stop-time rhythm featuring "chiming" piano chords (repeat).
  • 1:52: Louis Armstrong cornet solo (2 choruses) with woodblock percussion.
  • 2:27: Theme 2 featuring swooping winds and chiming piano.
  • 2:45: Ending cadence featuring trombone smear.
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (with Armstrong): "Snake Rag" (April 6, 1923)
This song is notable for its many different chorus breaks, especially a "snake-like" falling brass/reed scale punctuated by a trombone smear.
  • 0:00: Theme 1 fragment ending in a falling scale and smear (break).
  • 0:09: Theme 1, break.
  • 0:26: Theme 2 with rising/falling breaks.
  • 1:03: Theme 1, break.
  • 1:22: Theme 3, falling staccato clarinet break.
  • 1:58: Theme 3 variation with honking brass/wind break, vocal exhortation ("Oh Sweet Mama!").
  • 2:34: Theme 3, break, coda.
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (with Armstrong) records "Dipper Mouth Blues" (June 23, 1923) featuring solos from Johnny Dodds (clarinet) and Joe Oliver (wa wa cornet).
  • 0:00: Opening "alarm" fanfare.
  • 0:05: 1st chorus.
  • 0:20: 2nd chorus
  • 0:35: 3rd chorus in a stop-time groove and featuring a clarinet solo (2 choruses).
  • 1:06: 5th chorus (ensemble).
  • 1:21: Joe Oliver wah mute cornet solo (4 choruses), ending with a vocal "Oh play that thing!" in the 3rd chorus cadence break.
  • 2:22: Final cadence. 
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (with Armstrong) records “Sobbin’ Blues” & “Buddy’s Habit”, which interestingly feature Armstrong on slide whistle.
Sidney Bechet records "Wild Cat Blues" with Clarence Williams' Blue Five:
  • 0:00: Falling melody motif.
  • 0:06: 1st, 2nd chorus (theme A), led by Bechet's sax.
  • 0:28: Bridge.
  • 0:48: Main theme resumes.
  • 1:09: New theme B.
  • 1:30: Stop time groove featuring Bechet's sax breaks.
  • 1:50: Theme B.
  • 2:11: Stop time groove featuring Bechet sax breaks.
  • 2:31: Theme B.
  • 2:51: Final cadence with sax break.
Just outside Chicago, Jelly Roll Morton records solo piano sides for the Gennett label, starting on July 17 with "King Porter Stomp". He also records with white jazz transplants the New Orleans Rhythm Kings on songs like "Sobbin' Blues". The same year, Joe Oliver's Creole Jazz Band records some of Morton's compositions ("Froggie Moore", "London (Cafe) Blues").

"King Porter Stomp":
  • 0:00: Intro fanfare.
  • 0:06: 1st Theme and variations.
  • 0:48: 2nd theme and variations.
  • 1:28: Modulating bridge.
  • 1:33: 3rd theme with accented "shouts", variations.
In New York, stride pianist James P. Johnson records and has some hits such as
"The Charleston" and "Worried and Lonesome Blues".
Also in New York, tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins joins Fletcher Henderson’s dance band (although his own style had yet to surface). J(GD)
Pianist Duke Ellington begins forming jazz combos in New York. J(GD)
Bessie Smith, the "Empress of the Blues", begins recording. Smith's soulful rhythmic phrasing contributes towards the development of a looser style of solo jazz articulation. Smith will later record important sides with both Louis Armstrong and James P. Johnson.

"Jailhouse Blues":
  • 0:00: Opening cadence.
  • 0:10: Intro chorus.
  • 0:33: 1st vocal chorus.
  • 1:11: 2nd chorus.
  • 1:50: 3rd chorus.
  • 2:28: 4th chorus.
  • 3:07: Final cadence.

1918-22 New Orleans Goes North

     The years 1918 to 1922 featured the continued development of the jazz combo. However, as evidenced by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band's move and recording debut in Chicago, the New Orleans style and its main proponents were mostly migrating north to Chicago as growing numbers of jazz musicians were facing diminishing job opportunities in New Orleans. The major players to make this move included cornetist Joe "King" Oliver, cornetist Louis Armstrong, clarinetist Sidney Bechet, and pianist Jelly Roll Morton. The restless Bechet would also travel to Europe and switch to soprano sax as his main instrument.

     Parallel to the migration of polyphonic New Orleans-style combo jazz to Chicago, East Coast dance and "society" bands developed under the leadership of James Reese Europe and Paul Whiteman. Additionally, the stride piano style (a more improvisational style developed from ragtime) thrived in New York, as James P. Johnson recorded several popular sides. The two pieces analyzed below ("Memphis Blues" and "Carolina Shout") are not technically "jazz", since the elements of rhythm and improvisation is still relatively ragtime-based, but the spirit of jazz can be heard developing.


New Orleans cornetist Joe "King"  Oliver moves to Chicago and tours as "King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band". J(GD)
In New Orleans, Louis Armstrong plays cornet in various trios (mostly covering blues). He eventually takes the departed Oliver’s place in Creole trombonist Kid Ory’s "Brownskin Babies". J(GD)
Stride pianist James P. Johnson records his hit "Carolina Shout" on a piano roll (years earlier he had also made other piano rolls, including one for "Caprice Rag"). J(GD)


James Reese Europe returns from the war and records "Memphis Blues" (shortly afterwards, he is stabbed to death by a band member).
"Memphis Blues":
  • 0:00: Fanfare, Theme A.
  • 0:17: Fanfare, Theme A.
  • 0:33: Fanfare, Theme A development, closing fanfare.
  • 1:24: Theme B repeats several times with various instruments taking solo breaks before each cadence.
  • 2:53: Coda.
Traveling New Orleans clarinetist Sidney Bechet reaches Chicago, and later joins Will Marion Cook's Southern Syncopated Orchestra for a European tour. J(GD)
The Original Dixieland Jazz Band visits Europe, further spreading the jazz style internationally. J(GD)
Paul Whiteman starts a touring dance band. J(GD)


Paul Whiteman hits with "Whispering"/"The Japanese Sandman". These songs don't feature swing grooves or solo improvisation, but they do show how dance bands began to develop into looser forms.  J(GD)
Singer Mamie Smith records “Crazy Blues” (this coincides with the “race records” practice, where records were specifically aimed at black or white audiences). The blues form had begun a decade prior, but the harmony structure is still very open to new combinations. The most significant blues element is that Smith sings with a blues vocal attitude. J(GD)


James P. Johnson records "Carolina Shout", which he will rerecord several times in the future.
"Carolina Shout":
  • 0:00: Intro.
  • 0:05: Theme A.
  • 0:25: Theme A in higher register, bass variation.
  • 0:45: Theme A development.
  • 1:05: Theme B with syncopated "shouts".
  • 1:44: Theme C (or B') with "shouts" lower and displaced.
  • 2:39: Final cadenza.
James P. Johnson records "Harlem Strut" and "Keep Off the Grass", which also show the develop of ragtime into stride piano forms. J(GD)
Sidney Bechet arrives in New York and plays with Duke Ellington's band. Later he joins Clarence Williams's Blue Five. J(GD)


Pianist/composer Jelly Roll Morton settles in Chicago after travelling around the country. J(GD)
Louis Armstrong joins King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in Chicago, and they begin a legendary run at the Lincoln Gardens. J(GD)
Trombonist Kid Ory records his first record sides with Nordskog/Sunshine. He is the first black New Orleans jazz man to be recorded ("Ory's Creole Trombone"). EJ
Coleman Hawkins begins playing tenor sax in Mamie Smith’s band. J(GD)