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Dixieland Jazz is alive and well in Austin

Silver Creek Jazz Band
Silver Creek Jazz Band
Fito Kahn

Austin, the “Live Music Capital” of the World” is best known for it’s country and rock bands. Bands like Asleep at the Wheel, Bob Schneider, Reckless Kelly, and of course Stevie Ray Vaughn are always mentioned when someone mentions Austin music. No one would even think that deep in the heart of Texas, Dixieland music, is alive and thriving. The Austin Traditional Jazz Society is making sure of that.

Dixieland or Hot jazz as it is sometimes referred to started in New Orleans,in the early 1900’s .As it developed,  it spread across the country to cities like Chicago and New York City where it continued to develop and evolve.

Dixieland jazz musicians combined brass band marches, French Quadrilles, ragtime and blues with improvisations by trumpets, cornets, trombones, and clarinets over a "rhythm section" of piano, guitar or banjo, drums, and a double bass or tuba. The result was this wonderfully spontaneous music, that at first was rarely written down. The reason for this was that the song revolved around “improvisation”. Improvisation is the soul of jazz.

The best jazz was played by musicians with a genius for improvising around a basic melody. This is one of the aspects of jazz that makes it both fun to play and listen to. During a tune, each musician would display his musical skills by taking a “solo”. Because of this, A good jazz performance is never repeated in exactly the same way. Solos are inimitably personalized by the musician or musicians and therefore, cannot be written down in the manner which formal concert music is notated.

The Austin Traditional Jazz Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and performance of Traditional Dixieland Jazz in Austin and Central Texas.
Their 2009 schedule begins in September and goes through June. Forty Dollars gets you a year long membership. It’s one of the best deals in town for those of you looking for some great jazz on a Sunday afternoon. The 2009 season opened September 20th with the Silver Creek Jazz Band led by trombonist Dave Stoddard, a well known Austin jazz player.

The band entertained the crowds at the Cap City Comedy Club. The club is centrally located and has plenty of parking. The other nice surprise is that they serve food and have a full bar, so you can have a snack and drink while you listen to some of the best traditional jazz this side of New Orleans. If your feet get to moving too much, there is a dance floor that is just perfect for doing the jitterbug.

Tom Straus, the current president of the Austin Traditional Jazz Society extends an invitation to everyone who loves traditional Dixieland jazz, or who wants to know more about it, to come join them at any of their concerts. “Whether you perform or just listen, we want to share our "happy" music with you”.

Join ATJS to insure we keep traditional jazz in Austin and Central Texas.

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