In 1956, while in the throes of kicking his heroin addiction and late for a gig, Miles Davis
picks up a small black snake that had wandered into his Missouri home andthinking it is just a hallucinationmistakes for a clip-on tie. He completed the gig wearing the snake, which started a trend of Jazz musicians wearing skinny black ties that continues to this day.
The Buddie Petit New Orleans Jazz Band are performing in a poorly ventilated dance hall in Metairie on a particularly languid summer's day in 1917, when the Louisiana heat and humidity become too much for the musicians and the increasingly smaller crowd. Thinking quickly, Petit takes the band outside and performs on the dirt road in the shade of a large tree. Soon, passers-by are dancing and giving tips to the band, thus marking the first time a band "went out on the road" to both further Our Music and to make some coin.
In 1927, George Washington Carver successfully synthesized the essence of pure Jazz wholly from sweet potatoes. He was his own test subject, though the results were mixed; for about 15 minutes after ingesting the elixir, he did sing nonsense syllables, as in scat, but did so to the tune of Sousa's "Washington Post" march. By June of 1928, he had perfected the potion, and administered it to Louis Armstrong
. Pops immediately recorded "West End Blues" in one take. Jazz historians continue to argue whether it was Carver's tonic that was responsible for the landmark recording, or the fact that Satchmo had also smoked enough herb to give everyone south of Michigan Avenue a contact high.
While performing at Carnegie Hall in 1938, the musicians of Benny Goodman
's orchestra were understandably nervous, being in such an august venue. To ease the tension, Gene Krupa
opened the set by hitting every drum in his kit with unrestrained enthusiasm. That was enough to break the ice, and the band went on to perform an historic set. In Krupa's improvisation, thus was set a pattern of erratic behavior by drummers that endures even now. It should be noted that this breakthrough performance has nothing at all to do with Thelonious Monk
's 1956 recording Live at the Carnegie Deli
. That is a spoken word album, the highlight of which is listening to Monk try to order the hot tongue platter without giggling.
Our Leader Michael Ricci
brings All About Jazz to the burgeoning Interwebs. Previous efforts at a comprehensive source for everything related to Our Music include Ricci's Jazz-A-Sketch, designed for the Etch-A-Sketch. The problem was that each page took hours to render and had to be completely erased before moving on to the next page. It also made AAJ's signature circular logo (which Ricci says 'came to me as if in a dream') virtually impossible. This was followed by All About Jazz for Hasbro's Lite Brite, which quickly fizzled out due to the lack of sufficient blue pegs for Ricci's favored color scheme. Ricci finally made it to the Web in late '94 with the short-lived site If You Don't Like Jazz Then to Hell with You, which gave way to AAJ in 1995.
In 1969, Miles Davis recorded In A Silent Way
, using electric instruments and a more Rock-influenced style. This is widely viewed as the opening salvo of the Fusion movement, which has evolved into a legitimate school of Jazz. Davis was inspired to create this hybrid of Rock and Jazz when he noticed that Rock musicians in the late '60s were getting all the girls, while the ladies weren't lining up for cool, enigmatic trumpet players like they once were. Davis followed In A Silent Way
with the epochal Bitches Brew
, which unleashed the now-fully-formed Fusion genre and kept white musicians with Afros and corduroy pants solvent throughout the 70s. Davis is also credited with the creation of Cool Jazz while working with scientists at USC and the guy who invented the word "crunchocolatey," who were researching a cure for squareness.