Today is the birthday of Charles Joseph “Buddy” Bolden (1877-1931). This seminal New Orleans cornet player is credited by many with being the Father of Jazz, although when he was making his innovations (from around 1900 to 1907) it didn’t yet go by that name.
Bolden was among the first to bring musical ideas from gospel and the blues to marching band music, pioneering ragtime and what came to be known as jazz just a few years later when Bolden’s admirers like King Oliver and Louis Armstrong began to emulate him. In 1907 he was committed to a mental institution as a result of his acute dementia (we won’t speculate here on the medical cause of it).
While no recordings of Bolden’s playing exist, many tunes were composed in his honor. Here’s Jelly Roll Morton performing one of them:
To learn more about the history of show business, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc