In the earliest days, New Orleans jazz was very different than the music and settings we know today. At first, it was played in the raucous saloons of Storyville to a mostly black audience but as time went on it was embraced by the white society of New Orleans and music lovers around the country.
In New Orleans Jazz (Arcadia Publishing, $21.99), which arrives in bookstores today (April 7), New Orleans native Edward J. Branley outlines the transformation of jazz from its early days in the Crescent City to modern time. He does so mostly with short introductions to its six chapters and lots of photographs with long captions.
The book follows the music form from the late 1800s and its early innovators such as Charles “Buddy” Bolden, Edward “Kid” Ory, Freddie Keppard and Louis Armstrong. It includes information about the close of Storyville during World War I, the great migration of jazz players from the segregated South to Chicago and Los Angeles, the effects of the Depression, the ebbs and flows of jazz’s popularity over the decades and the current renditions of jazz that are popular today.
The closing chapter, “Modern Jazz,” discusses the Marsalis family, Johnny Vidacovich, Terence Blanchard, Kermit Ruffins, Harry Connick Jr., Jeremy Davenport, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Irvin Mayfield, Shamarr Allen, Allen Toussaint and others.
It’s not an in-depth analysis or history of jazz or its players, and there are no revelations here, but it gives readers a one-sitting roundup of New Orleans’ contributions to the genre and the people who have kept the music alive here.