Darktown Strutters’ Ball

‘m sure the title isn’t politically correct, but in 1917, no one seemed to notice. It is claimed that this was the first jazz tune recorded, on this date in that year. The song is 86 this year; I’m half that. It’s still a favorite. It was the first song I learned on the banjo; not a 5-string bluegrass affair, but an old 4-string tenor banjo, designed for playing with a jazz band. I’m still looking for the band, but when I find ’em, I’ve got the banjo.

IDarktown Strutters' Ball‘m sure the title isn’t politically correct, but in 1917, no one seemed to notice. It is claimed that this was the first jazz tune recorded, on this date in that year. The song is 86 this year; I’m half that. It’s still a favorite. It was the first song I learned on the banjo; not a 5-string bluegrass affair, but an old 4-string tenor banjo, designed for playing with a jazz band. I’m still looking for the band, but when I find ’em, I’ve got the banjo.

Written by Shelton Brooks, the complete sheet music of the original release is available online at the University of Colorado’s Digital Sheet Music Collection. Alan Lomax recorded Jelly Roll Morton playing this along with a couple dozen other tunes in 1938 in a classic collection of original jazz.

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