Today is the birthday of the great jazz pioneer Joe “King” Oliver (1881-1938), a cornet player and trumpeter often considered a sort of link in the chain between the legendary Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong. He started out playing in brass bands in the fabled Storyville section of New Orleans around 1908, where he was considered one of the hottest musicians in the city. A decade later he left NOLA and settled in Chicago in the early ’20s to form his popular Creole Jazz Band, and later his Dixie Syncopators. Bad health and financial setbacks forced his decline throughout the 30s, killing him by 1938.
Oliver was highly influential in his employment of mutes on his horn. You can hear him do that on his 1923 of “the Dippermouth Blues”, Oliver’s own composition, which is likely named after Armstrong, who played in the band and was sometimes known as Dippermouth. This tune’ll get the blood flowin’. I just had to play it twice I liked it so well!
For more on show biz history, 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 don’t miss 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