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Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Play by Gota River Jazzmen

Here's something for jazz history fans. The Gota River Jazzmen have put together a new CD using songs that are known to have been played by Buddy Bolden, almost 100 years ago.

Buddy Bolden is acknowledged by most experts to be the first musician to play jazz as it is known today. There are as many stories and myths surrounding "King" Bolden as there are storytellers. He was long thought to have operated a barbershop in New Orleans but interviews with his widow indicated otherwise. Some spoke of Buddy Bolden's horn being heard for fifteen miles while others just agreed that he was "just plain loud." Born in 1877, Bolden was actively playing music from about 1895 to 1907 when, as historians say, "he ran amuck at a street parade." Buddy Bolden was committed to a mental institution until his death in 1931. Was he the man who invented jazz music? The experts seem to agree that Bolden was probably their best bet.

Much has been written of the Buddy Bolden story over the years including a wonderful book by Donald Marquis, "In Search Of Buddy Bolden." That volume is a great read if you are able to find a copy at your library. You may also enjoy Daniel Hardie's "The Loudest Trumpet", another fine work.

The Gota River Jazzmen are a very dedicated and successful New Orleans revival band. Their involvement in the Bolden project has resulted in an innovative and truly enjoyable CD. The band's pianist, Ingemar Wagerman, has written a nice set of liner notes for the session and you can download the notes from their website. Wagerman did his research carefully and the band chose seventeen tunes for this recording. All songs were documented as having been played by Buddy Bolden and some are thought to have been Bolden compositions. These include Makin' Runs, Make Me a Pallet On The Floor and Funky Butt. Bolden played waltzes, rags, marches, hymns, blues and whatever was required by the social clubs and others who hired the band. The Gota River Jazzmen does the same on this CD. As always, the Swedish band appears as exciting as ever with special thanks to the powerful frontline of Olsson, Nystrom and Ehnstrom. Kudos to clarinetist, Sverker Nystrom, a tireless improviser, whose work is outstanding on this album. The band does not attempt to play in Bolden's style, as nobody today really knows how the trumpeter sounded ninety years ago. They play the vintage tunes in their own proven style and that works for me.

Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Play is a worthwhile addition to any jazz collection.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Gota River Jazzmen
  • CD Title: Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Play
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: GRJ
  • Tracks: Makin Runs; A Bird In A Gilded Cage; Frog Legs Rag; Make Me A Pallet On The Floor; Don't Go 'Way Nobody; Nearer My God To Thee; Ti-Na-Na; Old Oaken Bucket; Any Rags; I'm Wearing My Heart Away For You; Ida
  • Musicians: Esbjorn Olsson (cornet, vocal); Sverker Nystrom (clarinet, vocal); Lars Ehnstrom (trombone, vocal); Goran Moller (banjo); Ingemar Wagerman (piano); Bertil Bostrom (string bass); Hans Asberg (drums).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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