By the early 1920s blues and ragtime had fused with the exciting local brass band tradition that had developed in New Orleans become a new form known as “Dixieland” (or sometimes “Hot Jazz.”) Most Dixieland music is instrumental and features basic arrangements of songs that musicians in a group repeat over and over while each instrumentalist takes a turn improvising a solo in turn. Dixieland requires its musicians to be accomplished performers, but it’s far from stodgy and demure. Dixieland is enlivening, playful and FUN.
A Dixieland group might include a banjo, piano, stand-up bass, drums or tuba to keep the bouncy, upbeat tempo going and a clarinet and/or brass instruments like the trumpet, trombone and saxophone to play intertwining melodies. The musicians maintain the structure of the composition but cherish the opportunity to explore.
Dixieland jazz was most popular in the ’20s when musicians like pianist JELLY ROLL MORTON, trombonist “KID” ORY and New Orleans-born trumpet player and band leader LOUIS ARMSTRONG were all actively composing and/or performing, but the music, now often referred to as “traditional jazz” or “trad jazz,” has remained a fixture of the New Orleans jazz scene–and, apparently, of Croatia’s Špancirfest Varaždin–ever since.
[Listen to Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers perform “Hyena Stomp” in 1927 | Watch “Kid” Ory’s band perform “Tiger Rag” in 1959 | Watch Louis Armstrong and his Dixieland band play “Canal Street Blues” in 1962]