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Information and Introduction to the Red Hot Jazz Archive

Look here to see the latest entries.

Redhotjazz.com was a crown jewel of the early internet. Starting in the mid ’90s it made the offline discographies and biographies of early jazz  available to the online public. It also hosted thousands of audio files, many donated by people who were digitizing their 78 RPM record collections for the first time. This all started long before YouTube and several years before Wikipedia. The site may actually have been one of the inspirations for Wikipedia.

Red Hot Jazz had a profound influence on me as a young college student who had just found a box of jazz 78s and wanted to learn about them. It’s not unrealistic to think I wouldn’t be working on Syncopatedtimes.com now if I hadn’t found Redhotjazz.com then.

The man behind the Red Hot Jazz Archive was named Scott Alexander. In the mid 2000s he attempted an open source model before the site was abandoned around 2008.  Despite several  years of effort we have been unable to find him or to secure the domain name and make the site itself available again. In December the site went dark for good, making that no longer possible.

As a last resort we are duplicating the content of the Red Hot Jazz Archive from a snapshot saved in Archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Most of the links on these pages currently bring you to that snapshot. We will be changing those links to correspond with our own pages as we make them. We are moving in roughly alphabetical order.

The original Red Hot Jazz audio files are in an early Real Audio format that will not play on all players (try the free open source player VLC). They download automatically when you click on them. Don’t be scared. Where possible we are changing these to MP3 files that you may play without downloading, or download if you chose. But there will always be some files mixed in that are still in the old .ra format. 

Keeping with both the original intent and mission of Redhotjazz.org everything will be publicly available outside of our paywall. For ease of use there are no ads embedded in the content. The ads on the side bar are for organizations and projects keeping hot jazz alive today.

Why go through the trouble? The primary reason is that Google search results do not include listings for pages on the Wayback Machine. This means a person searching for an obscure studio band of the ’20s will not find the concise yet detailed information that Red Hot Jazz once offered. Instead the curious will find confusing and often incorrect AI generated results. If they find anything at all.

A secondary reason is that where Wikipedia does have an entry for a band or artist from the jazz age Redhotjazz.com is often cited as the source for more information — those are all dead links now! As we slowly and carefully migrate entries we are checking any corresponding Wiki pages and redirecting the citations. We start this project in April 2020 with a reasonable goal to complete it by April 2022.

Though we are not updating the text we are making it more reader friendly by breaking it up into proper paragraphs. Where available we are adding additional pictures, better pictures and additional links to better information. We are also adding proper Google Schema Markup, and we are designating a properly sized photo for sharing entries on social media, and making everything smart phone responsive. All of this will help the archive find the people who are looking for it and make it a better resource when they do find it. – JB

The below combines the “Information” and “Introduction” pages from the original Redhotjazz.com


The music called Jazz was born sometime around 1895 in New Orleans. It combined elements of Ragtime, marching band music and Blues. What differentiated Jazz from these earlier styles was the widespread use of improvisation, often by more than one player at a time. Jazz represented a break from Western musical traditions, where the composer wrote a piece of music on paper and the musicians then tried their best to play exactly what was in the score.

In a Jazz piece, the song is often just a starting point or frame of reference for the musicians to improvise around. The song might have been a popular ditty or blues that they didn’t compose, but by the time they were finished with it they had composed a new piece that often bore little resemblance to the original song. Many of these virtuoso musicians were not good sight readers and some could not read music at all, nevertheless their playing thrilled audiences and the spontaneous music they created captured a joy and sense of adventure that was an exciting and radical departure from the music of that time.

The first Jazz was played by African-American and Creole musicians in New Orleans. The cornet player, Buddy Bolden is generally considered to be the first real Jazz musician. Other early players included Freddie Keppard, Bunk Johnson and Clarence Williams. Although these musicians names are unknown to most people, then and now, their ideas are still being elaborated on to this day. Most of these men could not make a living with their music and were forced to work menial jobs to get by.

The second wave of New Orleans Jazz musicians like Joe “King” Oliver, Kid Ory and Jelly Roll Morton formed small bands that took the music of these older men and increased the complexity and dynamic of their music, as well as gaining greater commercial success. This music became known as “Hot Jazz”, because of the often breakneck speeds and amazing improvised polyphony that these bands produced.

A young virtuoso cornet player named Louis Armstrong was discovered in New Orleans by King Oliver. Armstrong soon grew to become the greatest Jazz musician of his era and eventually one of the biggest stars in the world. The impact of Armstrong and other Jazz musicians altered the course of both popular and Classical music. African-American musical styles became the dominant force in 20th century music.

The Red Hot Archive is a place to study and enjoy the music of these early “Jazzmen”. Due to recent advances in technology it is now possible to broadcast text, music and pictures around the world via the Internet. This site is an experiment in using this new multimedia technology. We hope it will combine the best of books and audio recordings, into valuable and enjoyable tools for appreciating this music and the men and women who produced it. This site is a work in progress and will continue to grow as more recordings and writings are added to the archive. Submissions, suggestions and corrections are welcome.

A very special thank you goes out to Annie Van Auken for proofreading the entire Red Hot Jazz Archive!

The making of The Red Hot Jazz Archive would have been impossible without the incredible work of Jazz writers, historians and record collectors who did the original research, interviews and compiling of discographies that were used to assemble this web site. Below you will find some of the books that I found to be invaluable in compiling the information contained in these pages.

reading - About the Archive
reference - About the Archive
Jazz Records 1897 – 1942 by Brian A. L. Rust
Who’s Who Of Jazz by John Chilton
oral - About the Archive
The Baby Dodds Story as told to Larry Gara
Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya
The Story Of Jazz As Told By The Men Who Made It
by Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff
Really The Blues by Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe
With Louis And The Duke by Barney Bigard, edited by Barry Martyn
biography - About the Archive
In Search of Buddy Bolden by Donald M. Marquis
Bix; Man And Legend, by Richard M. Sudhalterr and Philip R. Evans, Arlington House Publishers, 1974
gh - About the Archive
New Orleans Jazz: A Revised History by R. Collins
Chicago Jazz by William Howland Kenney
From Cakewalks to Concert Halls
An Illustrated History of African American Popular Music from 1895 to 1930
by Thomas L. Morgan
From Jazz to Swing
African-American Jazz Musicians And Their Music 1890-1935
by Thomas J. Hennessey
Jazz: A History Of The New York Scene by Samuel B. Charters and Leonard Kunstadt
Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy : Gennett Studios and the birth of recorded jazz
by Rick Kennedy

copyright - About the Archive
“Why would anyone be interested in those old things?” – Jelly Roll Morton
 Many people have asked if the Red Hot Jazz Archive is legal? The answer appears to be yes, but several experts have said that it falls into a gray area of law, concerning the transmission of the temporary Real Audio file and if that constitutes copying and distributing of the recordings. I see the archive as a radio station of sorts, and that I am just broadcasting these works, not distributing them. Besides all that, the majority of the works on this archive are in the public domain, because the copyrights have expired.

 

Under the copyright law that was in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either case, the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal. The current copyright law has extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for copyrights that were subsisting on January 1, 1978, making these works eligible for a total term of protection of 75 years.

Public Law 102-307, enacted on June 26, 1992, amended the Copyright Act of 1976 to extend automatically the term of copyrights secured from January 1, 1964, through December 31, 1977 to the further term of 47 years.

For more detailed information on the copyright term, write to the Copyright Office and request Circulars 15, 15a, and 15t. For information on how to search the Copyright Office records concerning the copyright status of a work, request Circular 22. If you have nothing better to do, the full text of the U.S. copyright law can be found at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/

Scott Alexander

 

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