This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

All That Jazz Man

31 March 2017

What good is melody, what good is music
If it ain't possessin' something sweet?
Nah, it ain't the melody and it ain't the music
There's something else that makes this tune complete

Yes, it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing.
(Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah)
(Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah)

 Well, it don't mean a thing, all you got to do is sing
(Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah)
(Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah)

 It makes no difference if it's sweet or hot
Just give that rhythm everything you got
Oh, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing
(Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah)
(Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah)
"It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)"
 Songwriters: Duke Ellington / Irving Mills

If you met him
you'd not soon forget
smiling face,
as it's on his bass drum too.
He's Jazz Varadys the drummer.

He left a message
on the back of his postcard
and, unless I'm mistaken,
he is a Hungarian Jazz Drummer.
From 1926.

The best I can do with Google translate is that the the first two words "Igaz baráti" means "True friends" in Hungarian. The date is in typical Hungarian style too. 1926 VI 5 (or maybe VII 5).

The phrase "Jazz music" doesn't appear in American newspapers until around 1916-17. In Europe it first shows up a bit later in 1918 when the United States joins the allies and American troops are first sent to France. It becomes a "craze" in Paris.

Pall Mall Gazette
28 September 1918

In September 1918 the Pall Mall Gazette reported: 

It is the cult of the Jazz Band. Everywhere in the world of entertainment this American innovation is to heard, and is hailed with amused and amazed enthusiasm. A Jazz band is nowadays the chief feature of a revue, and the mad beating of cymbals, the negro cries, the spectacle of a lunatic drummer wildly striking bells and blowing motor horns in an indescribable cacophony of so-called music, have tickled the fancy of Parisians for the moment.   

When the war ended two months later, Europe was ready for a change. The empires of Germany, Russia, and Austria were no more. New nations emerged to rebuild a modern Europe. The old world culture was rejected for something new and fresh. America's Jazz music proved just as contagious as the great influenza epidemic. Soon everyone, even musicians in Hungary, were tapping their feet to infectious dance rhythms from the New World.

In April 1919, even the Yorkshire Evening Post reported on how easy it was to make a Jazz Band. 

Yorkshire Evening Post
15 April 1919

With just a brief lesson by "an expert from America" who took away the band's music; gave tin saucepans to the two trombonists; showed the pianist how to play runs and scales with just his thumb; got the clarinetist to wail and moan; and conspired with the drummer to add a motorhorn and two handbells, "almost any five competent bandsmen can be made into a Jazz band."

Nonetheless the housekeeper's cat was so disturbed, that after the rehearsal it was found four streets away with "a dazed expression on its face and has looked thoughtful ever since." 

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where no one every loses their head.


Little Nell said...

Ah, now I have an earworm! I’ll be singing it all day. That’s a great description of the instructions for jazzing it; poor cat though.

Jofeath said...

Love the heading and background in that last newspaper clip. The reporters clearly weren't fans of improvisation.

Unknown said...

Jazz Varadyz' face on his drum is a hoot! And his pose in the photo is perfect...

tony said...

Ha ! lunatic drummer's ....the world over!
Even before I had scrolled down to your second photo i knew he would be a drummer!
Shades of Keith Moon of The Who.

Barbara Rogers said...

Great Hungarian drummer! And jazz, so many people are considered the father of jazz. I wonder who you would choose. I never thought about how it became the European favorite following WW I.

Wendy said...

Jazz - easy? I don't know about that. It seems to be very tricky and unpredictable, the rhythm going every which way.
The first picture looked like a Man in the Moon kind of photo, or maybe Humpty Dumpty.


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