Buddy Bolden Father of New Orleans Jazz
New Orleans jazz is a blend of ragtime, marches, blues and other African American music traditions. It used a forward momentum know as swing with ‘bent’ notes as well as improvisation. The development of jazz was in New Orleans, mainly due to the fact that it was the most diverse city in the United States with people with African, French, Caribbean, Canadian, Italian, German, Mexican, and American Indian descent.
Buddy Bolden was born on September 6th, 1877. Buddy began playing the coronet as a teenager. The first band he played with was a small New Orleans dance band led by Charlie Galloway. When Buddy turned 20 years old he left the group to begin his own band. His band consisted of him, two clarinet players, one guitarist, one bass player, and a drummer.
None of the members of Buddy’s band knew how to read sheet music, which that led to a lot of improvisation done by his group. This is what led to improvisation becoming a popular and regular technique used in jazz music. He is also credited with creating a looser, more improvised version of ragtime, and adding blues elements to it.
Buddy also invented the “Big Four”, which is a rhythmic innovation based on the marching band beat. It consisted of a bass drum pattern that deviated from the standard march beat.
His most well-known tune is “Funky Butt” otherwise known as “Buddy Bolden’s Blues”. This song is the first known reference of the concept of funk in music.
Buddy Bolden’s career ended at the age of 30 as he had been suffering with alcoholic psychosis. He then spent the rest of his life in a mental institution in Louisiana and died in 1931.