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First jazz record released, 1917

Jan 12, 2018
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From 1915, a number of musicians travelled north from New Orleans to Chicago, where their musical styles were becoming very popular. Among these were the Nick LaRocca (cornet), Eddie Edwards (trombone), Larry Shields (clarinet), Henry Ragas (piano), and Tony Spargo (drums). Together they formed the Original Dixieland Jass Band in October 1916.

While enjoying successful stint playing in New York in January 1917, the quintet received an invitation to audition for Columbia Gramophone Company, but no releases resulted from the session. A month later, on 26th February, they recorded two tracks for the Victor Talking Machine Company: “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixie Jass Band One-Step”. Victor released the two tracks as a 78rpm single on 7th March 1917.

The record became a big hit, and may have been the first to sell over one-million copies. Nevertheless, the band failed to copyright “Livery Stable Blues”, prompting two other New Orleans musicians, Ray Lopez and Alcide Nunez (who had recently left the band), to copyright it and release sheet music under their authorship. In response, the Original Dixieland Jass Band copyrighted the tune under the title “Barnyard Blues”, which resulted in litigation between the two parties that ended up being thrown out of court.

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