From the Record Shelves #82

When the Jazz Band Starts to Play

LP Natchez Records NLP 3003

When I heard about and found records by Portena Jazz Band in the 70s I understood that there was a “hot spot” for early jazz in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This LP release from 1971 confirmed it further. I don’t remember how I got my hands on this rare record.

We hear New York jazz, and it is music unknown to many as it is recorded early in the jazz history, as early as April 1923.

One cannot help making a quick comparison with their contemporaries. They’re not as good, not as well expressed, not as structured as King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (Louis Armstrong would make a strong impression on the New York jazz scene when he arrived only about a year later.) If we compare them with a white New York counterpart Original Memphis Five they have more jazz elements such as unorthodox treatment of their instruments, the blues feeling and more rhythmic energy.

In the tune we hear elements of ragtime, charleston and blues.

Beside Thomas Morris on cornet is Bubber Miley who would develop his talent in the years to come with Duke Ellington. The two, whether they play open, muted or half muted cornet have a lot of drive and so has the great Charlie Irvis on trombone using the slide opportunities of his instrument to good advantage. Morris and Irvis would be heard later with Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra. The skilled pianist and the agile player of the banjo are unknown.