September 6 – Happy Birthday, Buddy Bolden!

Posted on September 6, 2015

Today's famous birthday is part of jazz royalty!

King” Bolden was a cornetist. That means that he played a cornet – and, oh, boy, did he play! He and his band were one of New Orleans's top draws at the Turn of the Century, and Bolden is considered one of the most important figures in developing rag-time music into jazz music.

So much so that this king of jazz is sometimes called the father of jazz!

A cornet is similar to a trumpet.

Buddy Bolden (who was born in New Orleans on this date in 1877, and named Charles Joseph Bolden) changed ragtime by making it looser and more improvised. Also, he added the blues to rag-time, AND he and his bandmates are credited as being the first to use brass instruments to play the blues.

Bolden's band
Bolden was apparently also inspired in part by gospel and marching music.

This fusion of ragtime, improvisation, blues, marches, brass, and gospel is what we today call jazz music. (Apparently the term “jazz” wasn't commonly used in the music biz until later.)

Audiences found the mixture exciting!

Here are two sad things:

  1. There are no known surviving recordings of Bolden playing music, although there is evidence that he and his band made at least one phonograph cylinder.

  1. Much sadder is the fact that Bolden suffered from schizophrenia and, at age 30, had a breakdown and was admitted to an insane asylum. He spent the rest of his life in the asylum, died penniless, and was buried in an unmarked “pauper's grave.”

Also on this date:

Bonaire Flag Day

Braemar Gathering in Scotland

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