Did World War One spawn jazz?




As part of its World War One season, BBC Radio 3 has commissioned Alyn Shipton to look for a causal link between the 1914-18 war and the emergence of jazz

Jazz broadcaster Alyn Shipton (pictured) looks for the jazz angle on the 1914-18 war when he presents World War One: Cradle of Jazz in the Sunday Feature slot on BBC Radio 3 at 18.45-19.30 on 6 July. The programme will chart the musical and social changes behind the emergence of jazz during World War One and ask if the war itself was the catalyst to launch the jazz age.

A press release from BBC Radio 3 elucidates:

"In 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made what are generally regarded as the first jazz records, but where did this music come from? What changes were going on during the period of World War One that prompted the musical and social changes that led to the jazz age of the roaring twenties? Alyn sets out to chart the evolution of jazz from ragtime at a time when few recordings exist to document the emergence of this new musical form.
 
His journey takes him across America on the TOBA (Theater Owners Booking Association) circuit of African-American Theatres, where vaudeville acts and blues singers pioneered musical change, and to Britain and France, where black entertainers offered light relief to those in the grip of the war.
 
Listeners will hear from Alyn's historical Radio 3 interviews with big band pioneer Jesse Stone, who formed his first band in 1918, and trumpeter Doc Cheatham, who served his apprenticeship on the wartime theatre circuit, as well as archive interviews with Jelly Roll Morton and Willie "The Lion" Smith.
 
There's music from Scott Joplin, James P Johnson, James Reese Europe, and Ma Rainey, plus European recordings by Dan Kildare and Gordon Stretton among others. Alyn also talks to music historians Paul Oliver, James Lincoln Collier and Howard Rye to find out whether the war itself was the catalyst for musical change."


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