Friday, January 05, 2007

Tiger Rag

( Naar de Nederlandse vertaling.)

The Tiger Rag is one of the most well known and most performed jazz tunes in traditional jazz. It was one of the first records ever recorded by a band that played a kind of music labeled as Jass. Jazz was in those days sometimes written as Jass.

The Tiger Rag was composed by Nick La Rocca, the cornet player of the Original Dixieland Jass Band around 1917. He recorded the tune with his orchestra for the very first time on the 17th of August 1917 for Aeolian Vocalion.

The Original Dixieland Jass Band is honored being the first band that recorded jass music, but this fact has always be part of a discussion between music and jazz historians.

Jazz music developed as a mixture of all kinds of music styles around 1900 as part of the culture of the black people in the US it is rather strange that the first jazz record should be played by a white band. Well, I'm not going to do this discussion again - it is a fact that this composition was first recorded in 1917.

It is a fact that this Tiger Rag became one of the most played tunes in traditional jazz and, nowadays, in dixieland jazz bands all over the world. It is played in so many styles and versions, violated, mutilated and made ridiculous, that it hardly can be played seriously after all those years. There must be thousands of recorded tunes and I'm sure there are record collectors specialized in that tune.

I started this subject as I was pointed to a nice film fragment in which the members of the original ODJB ( This abbrevation is general accepted for the Original Dixieland Jass Band ) reunite their original 1917 band and play the Tiger Rag again. It is a fragment of the 1937 March of Time series, titled Birth of Swing.

What about Harry Reser "hot" version with his Clicquot Club Eskimos

Or good old Roy Smeck's version on the ukulele:

The next fragment contains the version of the Freddie Fisher's Schnicklefritz Band.

And last but not least this great version on tuba, played by a tuba player who dreams to be a star.

I hope you liked this subject. Beware of tigers today !

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

50: 5 January 1957: Woolafunt's Lament - Kenny Burrell Quintet Monday Stroll - Frank Wess Quintet

Nederlands ( To the English translation )

De Tiger Rag is één van de meest bekende en meest gespeelde jazznummers uit de traditionele jazz. Het was één van de eerste titels, die opgenomen werden door een band, die pretendeerde jassmuziek te spelen. Jazz werd toen nog als jass geschreven.

De Tiger Rag werd gecomponeerd door Nick La Rocca, de cornetspeler van de Original Dixieland Jass Band rond 1917. Hij nam het nummer voor het eerst op met zijn orkest op 17 augustus 1917 op het Aeolian Vocalion label.

Met zegt, dat de Original Dixieland Jass Band de eer te beurt valt voor het eerst jazzmuziek op de plaat te hebben gezet, maar dit is altijd een onderwerp van discussie geweest onder jazzcritici.

Aangezien Jazz ontstaan is begin 1900 uit een mix van allerlei muziekculturen binnen de zwarte bevolking van Amerika is het natuurlijk vreemd dat de eerste jazzplaat gespeeld wordt door blanke musici. We gaan hier de discussie niet opnieuw voeren, maar constateren dat het nummer voor het eerst opgenomen werd in 1917.

Het is een feit dat de Tiger Rag één van de meest gespeelde nummers is uit de traditionele jazz en tegenwoordig kan geen een dixieland orkest, waar ook ter wereld om dit nummer heen. Het is gespeeld in allerlei muziekstijlen en versies, verkracht, verminkt en belachelijk gemaakt, zodat het eigenlijk niet meer goed mogelijk is het nummer serieus te spelen.

Er moeten zo'n duizenden versies opgenomen zijn op plaat en ik wet zeker dat er hier of daar wel een pure Tiger Rag verzamelaar zal bestaan.

Ik vond het leuk om dit doodgespeelde nummer eens naar voren te halen, omdat ik gewezen werd op een aardig film fragment uit 1937, waarin de voormalige leden van de ODJB ( deze afkorting voor de Original Dixieland Jazz Band is algemeen aanvaard) nogmaals bij elkaar komen en de Tiger Rag spelen. Het fragment komt uit de film: Birth of Swing, in de March of Time series.

En wat te denken over deze "hot" versie van Harry Reser's Clicquot Club Eskimos?

En wat maakt Roy Smeck op zijn ukulele van dit nummer?

De Freddie Fisher's Schnicklefritz Band heeft zo z'n eigen interpretatie van het nummer.

........ en tenslotte een schitterend voorbeeld van de Tiger Rag gespeeld op een boot door een tubaspeler,die droomt van de grote podia.

Ik hoop dat jullie de Tiger Rag nog steeds kunnen waarderen.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

50: 5 January 1957: Woolafunt's Lament - Kenny Burrell Quintet Monday Stroll - Frank Wess Quintet


Blogger Jo said...

Thank you, Hans, for this great feature on "Tiger Rag". Most enjoable videos and a lot of fun. Anyway, somewhere there ought to be a filmed version of Jelly Roll Morton's lecture on the origins of "Tiger Rag". From the Lomax recording sessions in 1938 up till now it has been disputed, whether it was Nick LaRocca, who composed the original "Tiger Rag". Never mind, it's a great tune, so ... hold that Tiger!


9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hans, and the rest of us, yes, beware of the tiger
(and I liked your presentation this morning), but
enjoy some of the greatest jazz that are tigers:
Freddy Johnson 1933 (with Arthur Briggs, Herb
Flemming, Booker Pittman, Alfred Pratt) this tiger is
in my desert island classics, as are
Louis Armstrong 1931 and 1934 (why do I like the 34
record best, maybe I just like the Paris band, it is a
better band than some of those 31/2 even if friends
like Al Washington and Preston Jackson are on it,
maybe George James' on lead alto is a partial blame,
he was not mature yet, he later was a fine musicians w
Wilson and own combos)
Svend Asmussen 1935 (Svend has been on my mind lately,
maybe its trying to figure out what harmonies I want
to use on Aleman's solo on "Sweet Sue" for a 3 piece
reed section, maybe the 78 of rumbas I recently
acquired, maybe why are he and Aleman not as famous as
Django and Grappelli), great version
of course speaking of Django, he always did a nice
tiger, the QOTHCOF Ultraphone from November 1934 is a
moment of sheer ecstasy, my life without this tiger
would be incomplete (since I was a pre teen!)
any version by Oscar Aleman, the 1950's version is
taken at a great tempo, but remember Osacr was a
dancer so he is more conscious of tempos than most
musicians (and his version is in my desert island as
well, as are many other records by him)
these are just a couple, but also remember that the
last strain is a great take off to write other
compositions, try:
Michel Warlop "All For The Swing" 1934
Mills Blue Rhythm Band "Ride Red Ride" 1935 (also
remember that they did it on film in 1938 with Don
Byas and Frankie Newton- who would have been 101
yesterday if he was still alive- and again in 1941
with a true powerhouse big band)
I even found the same chord progression in an African
dance bands and biguine outfits, this being that the
last strain is based on a French quadrille (try
Stellio's "A Si Pare" from 1931, or if you collect
African LP's "Sandena" by Palm Jazz from Guinea in
1982 and you can see the chord progression that never
so far regarding swing musicians, but real New
Orleans musicians also do good Tiger Rag's as well, it
maybe called Jack Carey so some other name (the song
is really a collection of folk themes that LaRocca
formalized, so some of the old timers remember it by
other names)
Punch Miller 1960 did a great one (Jack Carey)
but so did Bunk Johnson, George Lewis, Billie and De
De Pierce and Kid Thomas and some versions by Kid Ory
(beware of later bands, I prefer his 1940's bands
FTMP). I think Emile Barnes (who I just love his
1950's recordings, before he had a stroke) probably
did one as well (or am I remembering him as a side
There were hundreds of dixieland bands and
revivalists who were conscious enough not to go
overboard with the novelty effects, its the latter
that has given the Tiger a bad name (certainly the
Lawson's and other alumni from Bob Crosby would
respect it)
...and I even forgot Ellington who did THE masterpiece
on a double sided 78 in 1929 and always refereed to
its chord progression for great jazz in the later
really this is not a complete list, just a start
without my morning espresso or a discography to look
at, and not trying to be too obscure (didn't Lud
Gluskin do one, I remember it, and a dozen other
European big bands, for instance a favorite 78 of mine
is James Kok from 1935 did a great one, fine
arrangement- and a honest piano solo by the man who
later became Crazy Otto!-, in Germany, probably one of
the hottest jazz records of the 1930's in Germany, and
Gonella and Stone and...oh do not forget Goodman's
version either, very nice), all for now, Yves

Yves on 78-L discussion list

8:51 AM  

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