Tag Archives: Jazz




Barker, Danny. Buddy Bolden and the Last Days of Storyville. Alyn Shipton, ed. New York: Cassell, 1998.

Bissonnette, Bill. The Jazz Crusade: The Inside story of the Great New Orleans Jazz Revival of the 1960s. Bridgeport, CT: Special Request Books & Recordings Division, 1992.

Collier, James Lincoln. Jazz The American Theme Song. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Crow, Bill. Jazz Anecdotes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Deffaa, Chip. Traditionalists and Revivalists in Jazz. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1993.

Dietrich, Kurt. Duke’s ‘Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists. Rottenburg N., Germany: Advance Music, 1995.

Dodge, Roger Pryor. Hot Jazz and Jazz Dance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Gabbard, Krin, ed. Representing Jazz. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.

Giddins, Gary. Rhythm-a-ning: Jazz Tradition in the ‘80s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Gioia, Ted. The History of Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Harris, Rex. Jazz. London: Penguin Books, 1953.

Kenney, William Howland. Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History 1904-1930. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Larkin, Philip. All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961-1971. New York: Farrar-Straus-Giroux, 1985.

Leonard, Neil. Jazz Myth and Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Lyttelton, Humphrey. The Best of Jazz II: Enter the Giants 1931-1944. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1982.

New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie. 4 vols. London: Macmillan, 1986.


New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Edited by Stanley Sadie. 20 vols. London: Macmillan, 1980.

Oliphant, Dave. Texan Jazz. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1996.

Owens, Thomas. Bebop The Music and Its Players. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Peretti, Burton W. The Creation of Jazz. University of Illinois Press, 1992.

Rose, Al and Edmond Souchon. New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album. Third Edition, enlarged and revised. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1984.

Stokes, W. Royal. The Jazz Scene. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Walser, Robert, ed. Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History. Oxford University Press, 1999.

Werner, Otto. The Origin and Development of Jazz. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1984Williams, Martin. Jazz Changes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Williams, Martin. Jazz in Its Time. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

_____. The Jazz Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

_____. Jazz Heritage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.


Anderson, Gene Henry. “Johnny Dodds in New Orleans.” American Music 8, no. 4 (Winter 1990): 405-440.

Collier, James Lincoln. “Jazz.” The New Grove Dictionary of American Music 2:535-562.

Harrison, Max. “Jazz.” The New Drove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 9:561-579.

Koenig, Karl. “Nathan “Big Jim” Robinson: Jazz Trombonists.” The Second Line 35 (Winter 1983): 24-35.

_____. “Plantation Bands. IV: Harrison Barnes, Sunny Henry, and the Eclipse Marching Band of Magnolia Plantation.” The Second Line 34 (Summer 1982): 37-45.

Love, Frank. “Eddie Edwards and the ODJB.” The Second Line 38, no.2 (Spring 1986): 8-10.

Michaelis, Adrian. “Still Music on the Western Air.” The Black Perspective in Music 3, no. 2 (May 1975): 177-89.


Armstrong, Louis and King Oliver. Louis Armstrong and King Oliver. Musical Heritage Society 513282W, 1993.

Ellington, Duke and His Cotton Club Orchestra. Jungle Nights in Harlem (1927-1932). BMG 2499-2-RB, 1991.

Ory, Edward “Kid.” Ory’s Creole Trombone. Living Era Academy Sound and Vision Ltd. CD AJA 5148, 1994.



Trombone SilhouteWhile the word jazz often brings to mind the saxophone, the trombone was at the forefront of this genre from its inception, starting with the brass and dance band days, leading into the ragtime and Dixieland bands, and eventually swing. Many of the trombonists from this time have been forgotten by jazz historians, with only minor references to them as performing with such figures as King Oliver and Louis Armstrong. During this period many trombonists were responsible not only for innovations in the area of trombone performance, but to the new genre in general: Jack Carey with his now famous tune Jack Carey/Tiger Rag, Tom Brown with his Jass band, and “Kid” Ory for promoting “King” Oliver, his recordings of the first black Dixieland band and radio performances.


Irving “Miff” Mole (1898-1961)

Irving "Miff" Mole
Irving "Miff" Mole

Irving “Miff” Mole is the trombonist most frequently credited with liberating the trombone from its role as a counter-melody, bass line instrument. Making his recording debut with The Original Memphis Five in the early Twenties, Mole introduced a new level of performance technique for the jazz trombonist. Mole combined the percussive technique of the Dixieland trombone style with a melodic agility that previously had been heard on only the cornet or clarinet. During the 1920s he recorded hundreds of solos, which were unheard of on the trombone; Mole’s daring use of intervals, combined with unexpected phrases, created a melodic ingenuity and grace from an instrument that was only expected to supplying emotive bursts of raw passion.1 An example of Mole’s solo style that reflects this change is the Edison recording of “Hurricane” from 1926.2 In 1927 Mole started worked as a studio musician, playing in few jazz performances for the next two decades. In 1938-40 be performed with Paul Whiteman, and in 1943 with Benny Goodman. By the time of his death in 1961 he had been all but forgotten by the jazz community.

The inclusion of Mole as an innovator in trombone performance is in dispute in James Collier’s Jazz: The American Theme Song. Collier lists Mole and Teagarden as important white performers during this time, but cites black trombonist Dickie Wells as having more influence on future trombonists.3 However, Dickie Wells did not start recording solos of any significant length until almost two years after Mole had departed for studio work, and Well’s performances reflect the styles that were introduced by Mole. While Wells may be an important influence, his style was formed on the basis of Mole’s.

  1. Humphrey Lyttelton, The Best of Jazz II: Enter the Giants 1931-1944 (New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1981), 93.
  2. Gary Giddins, Rhythm-a-ning: Jazz Tradition and Innovation in the ‘80s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 40.
  3. James Lincoln Collier, Jazz: The American Theme Song (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 218-219.

Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (1904-1946)

Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (1904-1946)
Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (1904-1946)

Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton was born in New York City on Feburary 1, 1904; his parents were from the West Indies and he grew up in the San Juan Hill section of the city.1 Little is known about his childhood, except that he was an avid reader and that as an adult, Nanton had “owned hundreds of books on the most erudite subjects, ranging from psychology to philosophy, from history to astronomy.”2 He was apparently a well-educated man, or at least knowledgeable on many subjects, based on an interview with Rex Stewart, fellow Ellington band member and colleague. Stewart recalls Nanton knowing “how to make home brew and how to use a slide rule. He could recite poetry by ancient poets that most of us never knew existed, and he knew Shakespeare.”3

Before joining the Ellington Band in 1926, Nanton worked at many establishments and nightclubs in New York. Like other Harlem brass players during this time, he traveled from club to club with a fellow musician often referred to as a running mate. His running mate was Louis Metcalf, who also joined Ellington’s band. Nanton recorded his first solo with Duke Ellington on June 21, 1926; he would play with Ellington for the next two decades until his death in July of 1946.

Nanton’s technique with the plunger and growl was put to use extensively in the Ellington band. While his earliest solos were on the “open” horn, without the use of mutes or growls, his later solos tended to use those techniques almost exclusively. This was not due to a lack of agility on the trombone however, since his earliest “open” solos display a facility similar to that of Miff Mole.

The plunger or plumber’s helper is credited as being used as a mute first by King Oliver on the cornet. This style influenced Johnny Dunn, a New York trumpeter, who tried to claim being the first to use the technique, “…well, maybe in New York” in 1921.4 Nanton said he heard Dunn playing that year and decided to try the technique on trombone.5 By manipulating the plunger, the performer can create “oo,” “ah,” and “wah” sounds.  By the time Nanton joined the Ellington band he had worked up an extensive repertoire of effects with the plunger including a “ya” sound that since has not been accurately replicated, and used them in combination with the growl. During the plunger soloist tradition of the Ellington band, three types of physical manipulation were used to produce the growl: flutter tonguing, and actual vocal growl, and multiphonics. When combined with the plunger, these effects can produce an effect that gives the illusion or impression of speech. A modern version of this technique can be heard in the Peanuts television specials, with the portrayal of Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Nanton was not the only performer in the Ellington band to utilize the plunger technique; upon hearing its effect, Ellington incorporated into his music in general, which gave rise to “Jungle” music. Nanton, however, was responsible for its application to the trombone, particularly in solo work.

  1. Kurt Dietrich, Duke’s ‘Bones (Rottenberg, Germany: Advance Music, 1995), 19.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., 22.
  5. Ibid.

Early Swing Trombonists

During the 1920s trombone playing started to develop into a more sophisticated style. Just as jazz was maturing so were the performances of the trombonists. Miff Mole and Joe Nanton were pioneers in new techniques and styles for the trombone in jazz. Growing out of the Dixieland tradition, Nanton is credited with the development of mute and plunger technique on the trombone, copied from the cornet style of the day and developed into what Duke Ellington was to refer to as “Jungle Music.” This mute style combined the special effects of the Dixieland style with mutes, and expanded it into an effect that sounded like speech. Miff Mole was an opposite to Nanton, and developed a vocal singing style of soloing on the trombone that led the change from “special effects” and “growling noises” of earlier jazz solos and paved the path for trombonists such as Jack Teagarden and Tommy Dorsey.