James A. Drake interviews with Ted Lewis

Joined: March 15th, 2018, 6:05 am

April 17th, 2018, 12:09 am #1

Recently posted at the Mainspring Press blog, replete with odd bits of info. Nothing about Bix, apart from the fact that he recorded with Don Murray. Oddly, nothing about Don Murray, despite his being the only clarinet soloist named and highlighted with three Lewis recordings: MAYBE, WHO KNOWS; JUNGLE BLUES; and A JAZZ HOLIDAY. Find that in Part 2.

Both substantive and gossipy. Wait till you get to Part 3.

https://78records.wordpress.com/2018/04 ... is-part-1/
https://78records.wordpress.com/2018/04 ... is-part-2/
https://78records.wordpress.com/2018/04 ... is-part-3/

Bio of James A. Drake here:
https://78records.wordpress.com/2018/04 ... ew-series/

And check out the earlier posts (also Bix-less, AFAIK), if so minded.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 17th, 2018, 1:30 am #2

I saw the vitriol about Paul Whiteman in part 3. 
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Joined: March 29th, 2018, 12:06 pm

April 17th, 2018, 8:23 am #3

ahaim wrote: I saw the vitriol about Paul Whiteman in part 3. 
I for one wouldn't express it this harshly.
IMO, Ted Lewis has every right & qualification for this viewpoint on Whiteman, and the facts seem to support him, by & large.

Ralph
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Joined: March 16th, 2018, 10:44 am

April 17th, 2018, 9:30 am #4

Very enjoyable interviews. I also agree that 'vitriol' is harsh. I see none in the article. Lewis just stated the facts, not his viewpoint. He was Columbia's No.1 artist in 1929. His contract was for a staggering $42,000 a year plus half a cent royalty on every record manufactured (not sold), Contract also stipulated that Lewis was to receive top billing on any Columbia publicity as its number one artist. (source Mark Berrisford notes. Jazz Nostalgia Records)  The jazzmen in the various bands led by Lewis were in a vastly more friendly jazz environment that that of the Whiteman band.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 17th, 2018, 12:41 pm #5

 Facts:
 
-  “Jazz” is the title of the 1926 book authored by Paul Whiteman and Mary Margaret  McBride. The first sentence in the book: “JAZZ came to America three hundred years ago in chains.”

- From Ellington, Edward Kennedy (1973). Music is My Mistress ,. Garden City, N.Y. Da Capo Press: ”Paul Whiteman was known as the King of Jazz, and no one as yet has come near carrying that title with more certainty and dignity.”

- In the 1920s the word “jazz” had become synonymous with “dance music.” From  The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music — Edited by Nicholas Cook and Anthony Pople, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 836 pp. , “. . . to the majority of Americans of the time, the arranged music of his and similar bands, playing with a rhythmic bounce, and offering jazz-like solos, was jazz.”

- Whiteman’s orchestra was the most popular dance band of the 1920s. From Paul Whiteman — Pioneer in American Music, Volume I: 1890-1930, by Don Rayno, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003, 840 pp. “Whenever Whiteman came into a city with his famous band, the red carpet was rolled out in his honor. Mayors, governors, and even presidents, kings, princes, and other prominent officials welcomed him ceremoniously.

- Whiteman did not confer the title of “King of Jazz” upon himself, as commonly stated. In fact, he did not like the sobriquet. The first mention was in 1919, in the Pasadena Evening Post, “. . . the friends of Mr. Whiteman have with much enthusiasm bestowed the title of “king of jazz” upon him.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Joined: March 16th, 2018, 10:44 am

April 17th, 2018, 2:04 pm #6

All those quotes from books prove nothing. If Whiteman didn't like the sobriquet, why did he not disown it. Lewis told the plain unvarnished facts 
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Joined: March 29th, 2018, 12:06 pm

April 17th, 2018, 2:24 pm #7

ahaim wrote:  Facts:
 
-  “Jazz” is the title of the 1926 book authored by Paul Whiteman and Mary Margaret  McBride. The first sentence in the book: “JAZZ came to America three hundred years ago in chains.”

- From Ellington, Edward Kennedy (1973). Music is My Mistress ,. Garden City, N.Y. Da Capo Press: ”Paul Whiteman was known as the King of Jazz, and no one as yet has come near carrying that title with more certainty and dignity.”

- In the 1920s the word “jazz” had become synonymous with “dance music.” From  The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music — Edited by Nicholas Cook and Anthony Pople, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 836 pp. , “. . . to the majority of Americans of the time, the arranged music of his and similar bands, playing with a rhythmic bounce, and offering jazz-like solos, was jazz.”

- Whiteman’s orchestra was the most popular dance band of the 1920s. From Paul Whiteman — Pioneer in American Music, Volume I: 1890-1930, by Don Rayno, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003, 840 pp. “Whenever Whiteman came into a city with his famous band, the red carpet was rolled out in his honor. Mayors, governors, and even presidents, kings, princes, and other prominent officials welcomed him ceremoniously.

- Whiteman did not confer the title of “King of Jazz” upon himself, as commonly stated. In fact, he did not like the sobriquet. The first mention was in 1919, in the Pasadena Evening Post, “. . . the friends of Mr. Whiteman have with much enthusiasm bestowed the title of “king of jazz” upon him.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lewis and Whiteman always represented absolutely opposite ends as far as their approach to popular music & jazz was concerned.
While Whiteman was attemting to educate the public to the gradual abandon of the "Primitive, archaic Jazz", and replacing it with his vision of, in his opinion, much higher-standing & superior "Symphonic Jazz", Ted Lewis stressed the importance of the unrestrained, uninhibited music "from the guts".
Lewis' viewpoint on jazz, in contrast to Whiteman's, is perfectly illustrated in the following contemporary report, at a time when he (Lewis) was still at least as popular as Whiteman:


New York Morning Telegraph, May 19, 1922, p.07

TED LEWIS EXPLAINS THE PHILOSOPHY OF PRIMEVAL MUSIC

There's no temporizing about jazz with Ted Lewis, maestro of syncopated orchestration, who will bring his Metropolitan Band to the Bushwick Theatre next week. Lewis is all for jazz and wild rhythms and arrangements that seem from the Senegal and the African river basins. He glories in syncopation; he lives in outlaw musical meter; he succeeds by virtue of his superb indifference to tradition.
Paul Whiteman seeks to blend the classical with the ultra modern to soften, to modify, the mad delirium of decadent dance music. He seeks perfect time and the urbanities of orchestration. Lewis on the contrary is defiant. He exclaims in justification: "I express the mood of civilized society to-day in its revolt against over-civilization. We are borne down by sophistication. Everything is too complex. Let us get back to nature and the good healthy earth; let us give reign to the instincts that are primeval; let us express the emotions as the caveman and the pioneers in bronze and iron would express them. That is why I seek inspiration in the folk music of savage tribes, in tunes and harmonies of the levee blacks, in the 'blues' of the forbidden quarters in tropical cities and New Orleans and the old Barbary Coast. Art is looking backward to the primitives; we are discovering great healthy virtues in the earliest music and literature; men and women are mad all of a sudden for the simple life of the South Seas; we are finding art in the paintings of the cavemen on the rocky walls of Altamira. So in music I am giving the public what it craves in jazz. I am not compounding any felony by adapting classical music to syncopated time or toning down jazz to sober beats. I am after jazz plain and simple and the wilder the better. My bandsmen are with me in this and the public has supported me for a number of seasons. I want to give the thrill that comes from the dim, throbbing drums in the night-time of African desert. I seek the shock and startle that a missionary might experiece in stumbling upon a cannibal feast and hearing the elephant tusk trumpets and the big blacks beating with a human thigh bone upon a tin pan gong. It's in the air to-day. We all want excitement; we want the nerves rasped down to the raw. Give us pep in the cry everywhere.
So I am a jazz musician and I am proud of it. At the Bushwick Theatre I promise to go to the syncopated limit of music. Over at the Palace Theatre they craved my jazz last week. It araouses the elemental, the primitive, the nomadig urge."


Audience in the 1920s was already as divided over the question of how to define "Jazz", as we ourselves are today ...


Ralph
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 17th, 2018, 2:43 pm #8

Two additional facts: 
From  Motion Picture News, Mar 27, 1920.

TedLewisKingOfJazzMotionPictur.jNews27Mar1920pg.JPG
Me and My Father's Shadow: A Daughter's Quest and Biography of Ted Lewis "The Jazz King" 2005 by Dawn Williams.
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Joined: March 29th, 2018, 12:06 pm

April 17th, 2018, 2:52 pm #9

Albert,


everyone well-informed knows that the title "King of Jazz" was ascribed to Ted Lewis, too, by the public.
But, Albert, please read the contemporary report I've cited above, and then tell me, who deserved that title the most, Ted or Paul ?
IMO, in Jazz, attitude is at least as important than actual execution, and measured by those criteria, the answer to my above question is very clear to me !

Ralph
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 17th, 2018, 2:54 pm #10

alexander revell wrote: All those quotes from books prove nothing. If Whiteman didn't like the sobriquet, why did he not disown it. Lewis told the plain unvarnished facts 
"All those quotes from books prove nothing." They certainly do not to a person whose motto is: "Don't confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up."
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