I think whether the Ossman music is "jazz" is very much up for debate. To my ears, it sounds similar
to earlier Ossman recordings of solo banjo music made for Columbia concert cylinders. It's good
music (and interesting to modern ears due to the older style of banjo playing) but I wouldn't call
it "jazz" if "jazz" is what the ODJB and those who came after them played.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Art Shifrin" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 1:04 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Jazz's First Record Turns 95
> My edition of Brian Rust's 1897-1942 contains 1,753 pages of cylinders (one
> that I found quickly is by Wilbur Sweatman's Band on page 1515, recorded in
> Minneapolis circa 1903 - 1904) and disks of various 'speeds'. I don't know
> all of which and how many of those listings precede the Victors by the ODJB.
> But a glaring irony are the FIRST two recordings made by the ODJB for
> COLUMBIA on January 30, 1917. According to Rust (presumably based on
> Columbia recording ledgers) it was issued in the USA on 10" #A2297 & in
> England on #2903. They are Darktown Strutters Ball (master 77086-3-4) and
> Indiana (master 77087-2-3) I recall reading X years ago that the two sides
> were not issued until shortly after the high sales of their Victor 18255
> became known by Columbia officials.
> As already cited, the issue of being first is debatable. In this case at
> least two criteria are contradictory: when recorded versus when issued.
> The Jazzwax blog refers to the Victor SESSION
> of 02-26-17. It was self-evidently not the ODJB's first. The blog is very
> interesting and entertaining, but its lack of reference to the Columbia
> session is very questionable.
> Additionally, there are the criteria of what comprises jazz. I don't know
> a way of searching Rust's
> listings for ALL listed recordings made prior to February 26, 1917. The
> posting citing Sweatman's work easily at least, leads to a few. But what
> others are there (in this edition or other compilations)?
> Which 'experts' regard which as JASS aka JAZZ?
> A respondent to the Jazzwax blog cites (
> http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/928/ )
> Vess L. Osman's "St. Louis Tickle" as being the first (Victor 3037-2
> single sided 10" disk # 4624 & later issued on two sided 16092 Rust page
> 1199). My opinion is that it's NOT jazz
> but ragtime. I'm interested in other opinions, including those who are
> musicologists. Note that the data in the link states that some of the
> issues of 16092 were NOT by Ossman, but recorded later.
> By Rust's criteria, Ossman previously recorded Jazz. (pages 1197 -
> 1201....commencing with Berliner 7" #467 Ragtime Medley recorded in NYC on
> October 9, 1897). If a composition containing "Rag" or "Ragtime" ARE jazz
> recordings, then might that mean that the terms were at any time synonyms
> for Jas or Jazz? Or, do the two terms in a title preclude the performance
> from being Jazz?
> Finally, several times I tried the link
> It did not access WSJ article.
> Art Shifrin