Jazz's First Record Turns 95 - JazzWax

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February 21, 2012


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Uwe Zänisch

Happy Birthday "Livery Stable Blues"!

A happy day but I'm sad. 95 years later in Germany we can't listen to the YT clip because of copyright limitation.

"Dieses Video ist in Deutschland leider nicht verfügbar, da es möglicherweise Musik enthält, für die die erforderlichen Musikrechte von der GEMA nicht eingeräumt wurden."

95 year are enough I think!

Steven C.

Excellent post. Good to know where it all started, Marc. Thanks very much!


What strange irony that the 100th birthday of the jazz recording industry may occur at a time when there is no jazz recording industry anymore....


It has been definitely a great moment for you, Marc, and I envy you. Thanks for reminding us of the great day, and for sharing it with us.

One could call it a little miracle that the building is still there, in a city which changes so very fast.

I hope it's not sacrosanct, and it wouldn't take away any of its magic, when I would dare to say that the very first jazz recording took place in San Francisco, on January 24, 1906, only three months before the big earthquake on April 18 the same year.

It's "St. Louis Tickle" by the Ossman Dudley Trio.

It can be heard here:


But the expression, the label "jass", or "jazz" had not been introduced before 1912, and so, it's absolutely justified to name the ODJB as the very first who recorded this music under that very name.

The etymology of the word "jazz" can be found at many places of the www; a very insightful entry is in wikipedia.


Correction: Sorry for the above error; although the date was right, the recording location of "Saint Louis Tickle" was *not* San Francisco, it was Philadelphia, PA which is "unconfirmed" anyway.


I wonder if the Victor recording engineer that day felt like Tom Dowd did when Cream showed up to record "Disraeli Gears" at Atlantic Studios with their massive stage amps and roadies? Like Tom Dowd with Cream, the man who ran the wax 95 years ago managed to cram massive amounts of energy and excitement into the spinning groove. Thanks for another good one Marc!

John P. Cooper

I believe I met Tony Sbarbaro or his son or brother back around 1970 on Long Island where I was selling old records at a Sunday flea market at the 110 Drive-In in Melville.

He introduced himself by name and he looked much like the photos from 1917.

I wish I had paid more attention that day. He was very friendly and engaging, but I knew very little about the group back then.

Vince B.

Well, it isn't sacrosanct to call "Livery Stable Blues", just accurate. The claim for Ossman Dudley is just stretching too far. When they weren't recording ragtime tunes (and if ragtime equals jazz, then Ossman Dudley were certainly far from first) they were recording racially offensive tunes which "which were popular at the time but ... make people uncomfortable today".

And your guesses of San Francisco and Philadelphia are incorrect also. Can you name many Victor recordings from San Francisco or Philadelphia? According to Bruynincx it was New York. Common sense supports that location also.

Thanks Marc, for an offbeat and fascinating look at our jazz heritage. Maybe a little tour of nearby Tin Pan Alley could be in the works before it disappears?

Win Hinkle

I second the request about Tin Pan Alley. Imagine the confusion a teen or pre-teen might might show on their face when confronted with "Tin Pan Alley," the principal source or American Popular Music.

A Facebook User

I have that batwing 78!! Woo hoo!!

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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