For jazz lovers, yesterday was a momentous day in history for us. One hundred years ago, the very first jazz record was recorded. It took place in New York. A group out of New Orleans called the ‘Original Dixieland Jass Band’ recorded the “Livery Stable Blues.” It was recorded on the Victory Record label. The group, also known as ODJB billed themselves as the ‘Creators of Jazz.’ Members of the group included Tony Sbarbaro, Edwin Edwards, Larry Shields, Henry Ragas, and James ‘Nick’ LaRocca.
The recording of music didn’t start with ODJB; artist such as John Phillip Sousa and Enrico Caruso had preceded them. But because the popularity of jazz was beginning to overtake the country, their recording outsold these two early pioneers. Though the ODJB was the first group to record jazz, they were not the first choice of Victory Records. Originally, they wanted Freddie Keppard, a powerful Creole trumpet player from New Orleans to record the first jazz song. Arrangements had been made for the recording, but at the last minute, Keppard backed out. It was rumored that he was afraid that others would listen to the record and emulate his style. Others say that he didn’t want to be exploited by big business, and didn’t want the commercialization of jazz. For whatever reason, he bailed out.
The recording was mocked by many in the jazz community. They say the song was full of barnyard antics, which tended to discredit the authenticity of this art form. But these same sounds were commonly performed by Freddie Keppard during his performances. ODJB was not only popular here in the states, but also internationally. And they tried to perpetuate the myth that they created jazz. But eventually fate caught up with them, and the true purveyors of jazz were eventually recorded. By today’s standards, the song might be of questionable originality, but we still have to give ODJB credit for being the first to record jazz.