Compare and Contrast the Instrumentation and Improvisation of Two Recordings Made Between 1910-1950. Comment on How Jazz Has Developed Between These Recordings

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  • Topic: Jazz, Charlie Parker, Music
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Compare and contrast the instrumentation and improvisation of two recordings made between 1910-1950. Comment on how jazz has developed between these recordings

“Dixie jazz band one-step” was recorded in 1917 by the “Original Dixieland Jazz Band” (ODJB) who inherited much instrumentation from New Orleans Brass Band tradition. In this piece they made use of a typical small combo with a ‘frontline’, including cornet, clarinet and trombone, and a ‘rhythm’ section consisting of piano and drums. Charlie Parker’s Re-boppers also used a small combo, but with Alto sax and trumpet (replacing the out of date cornet) in the frontline, and piano, drums and bass in the rhythm section in “Ko-Ko” recorded in 1945.

Although both use a similar sized ensemble, there is large timbral contrast because ODJB have three instruments improvising simultaneously except during moments of ‘stop-time’ in the B section, where the band leaves the clarinet unaccompanied on beats 2, 3 and 4. In “Ko-ko” the focus is on the soloist, Parker taking two 64-bar choruses and Roach a 27 bar drum solo. In the intro, although not a solo, the melody in 8ves then 6ths is much less dense than the polyphony of the ODJB.

The clarinet frequently performs smears, for example the high-pitched descending smear signalling the end of each C section. The trombone plays in the tailgate, style frequently scooping and smearing as in the call-and-response with the clarinet and cornet in section C. In contrast, Parker and Gillespie play with clean articulation and highlight specific note and phrases using “ghosting”, a technique where a soloist backs of one note to highlight another.

In “Dixie Jazz Band One-Step”, the drummer rarely uses the cymbal, saving it for climactic moments such as at the end of the piece whereas Roach uses it extensively during Parkers’ solo and his own. ODJB’s drummer also uses many novel blues influenced percussion sounds such as woodblock and cowbell which are absent from “Ko-ko”....
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