BSR Home > Definition of "Dixieland Music"(aka "Trad" jazz) from the "Dukes of Dixieland" liner notes:
"Dixie land" was another name for Dixie's Line, the Mason and Dixon Line, which was drawn in 1769 on the basis of a line surveyed by two English astronomers named Mason and Dixie. It eventually came to mean the line separating the slave from the free states. Dixie also was an Americanization of the French word for Ten-dix- which was printed on New Orleans ten-dollar bills.
All of these overtones have contributed to the meaning of the word Dixieland, which since 1915 or so have come to be associated with a kind of music mostly New Orleans in origin. Actually, there is no formal definition for Dixieland music (otherwise known as "Traditional Jazz" in these modern times). It's really more of a style. It is marked by a simultaneous combination of voices, each of which has a distinct individuality. The original Dixieland band style, which had its birth in New Orleans, is a mixture of variations on key melodies, with each member playing tentatively for himself, while the end product is more harmonious.
In early jazz, melodic ideas were closely tied to complex rhythms, and the usual scheme of things was an ingenious working-out of one rhythmic idea against another, either on the piano or through two or more instruments. In New Orleans jazz, however, players drew most of their tunes from blues chords, using a comparatively small stockpile of standard tunes drawn from these chords. If you listen to New Orleans early jazz, you'll realize that it reflects vertical or harmonic thinking, and that notes follow a distinct chord pattern.
The basic instrumentation in Dixieland music calls for trombone (which originally carried the lead melodic line), trumpet, clarinet, string bass, drums and banjo or guitar. Of course, practically and combination of instruments is permissible. What appears to be a kind of rugged instrumental polyphonic early New Orleans jazz are actually individual voices that are improvised and that sound quite strident. This creates the impression of an overall, brassy, rugged texture.
Dixieland music is also referred to as "Trad" or "Traditional" jazz.
From Wikepedia and edited and members of the BSR:
Trad jazz refers to the American "hot jazz" of the 1920s and early 1930s, which developed from the New Orleans and Ragtime styles of music. It is a truly American invention, copied and embraced the world over. Pioneers of trad jazz music include Red Nichols and Louis Armstrong.
In "Trad." Jazz, the musicians usually don't read written music, they just know how the piece goes and compose their part on the fly, listening to the other members of the group and communicating to each other through the music. That's where the fun is, creating an overall sound that is unique to that performance. If the musicians are paying attention to each other and have reasonable skills, it can be magical. It is music that you will want to dance to and it will always make you feel a little better than you did before.
"Trad" jazz is generally considered to be the traditional playing of a piece with solo after solo leading up to a finish, while "hot jazz", although similar to trad, tends to be more ensemble playing with less individual virtuosity brought to the forefront. Early King Oliver pieces exemplify this style of hot jazz; however, as individual performers began stepping to the front as soloists, a new form of music emerged. Ironically, one of ensemble players in King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, Louis Armstrong, was by far the most influential of the soloists, creating, in his wake, a demand for this "new" style of jazz, in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Other influential stylists who are still revered in traditional jazz circles today include Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke, Wingy Manone and Muggsy Spanier. Additionally, many of the featured artists of the Big Band era had their beginnings in trad jazz bands, including Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa and Benny Goodman.
Following a re-birth and revival of interest in the late 1980s, a number of musical groups and musicians began performing and recording, not only original trad jazz tunes, but new compositions in the trad jazz style as well. Today, thanks to their efforts, trad jazz continues as a viable performance and recording art form; some modern musicians who are renowned for their preservation of the "trad jazz" style, include the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Wynton Marsalis.
Trad jazz clubs, such as Basin Street Regulars, provide a forum to keep "Our Kind of Music" alive and kicking.