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Wilbur Sweatman and his Jass Band
Wilbur SweatmanThese records by Wilbur Sweatman were made only about a month after the Original Dixieland Jass Band made what is generally considered to be the first Jazz record on February 26, 1917. As several of the titles of Sweatman’s songs suggest the music is closer stylistically to Ragtime than Jazz, but Sweatman seems to be improvising a bit on his clarinet particularly on “A Bag Of Rags” and “Joe Turner Blues“. Wilbur Sweatman would go on to record quite a few records for the Columbia label from 1918 to 1920 which are quite a bit Jazzier, but some people consider these recordings to be the first African-American Jazz records.

Thanks to Jeff Lichtman of Swazoo Koolak’s Web Jukebox for his help with the music on this page.


Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
A Bag Of Rags
(W.R McKanlass)
4-1917 New York, New York Pathé
B 20167
Boogie Rag
(Wilbur Sweatman)
4-1917 New York, New York Pathé
B 20147
Dance And Grow Thin
(George W. Meyer)
4-1917 New York, New York Pathé
A 20147
Dancing An American Rag
(Bob Ward)
4-1917 New York, New York Pathé
B 20145
I Wonder Why
From “Love O’ Mike”

(Jerome Kern)
4-1917 New York, New York Pathé
A 20145
Joe Turner Blues
(W.C. Handy)
4-1917 New York, New York Pathé
A 20167

Wilbur Sweatman and his Jass Band

Artist Instrument
Piccolo Jones Alto Saxophone
Henry Minton Tenor Saxophone
Wilbur Sweatman Clarinet, Leader
Charlie Thorpes Baritone Saxophone
Vess Williams Alto Saxophone
Frank Withers Bass Saxophone was a pioneering website during the "Information wants to be Free" era of the 1990s. In that spirit we are recovering the lost data from the now defunct site and sharing it with you.
Most of the music in the archive is in the form of MP3s hosted on or the French servers of where this music is all in the public domain.
Files unavailable from those sources we host ourselves. They were made from original 78 RPM records in the hands of private collectors in the 1990s who contributed to the original They were hosted as .ra files originally and we have converted them into the more modern MP3 format. They are of inferior quality to what is available commercially and are intended for reference purposes only. In some cases a Real Audio (.ra) file from will download. Don't be scared! Those files will play in many music programs, but not Windows Media Player.

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