Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
New Orleans
Theme & Variation: a conversation with George H. Buck, Jr.

"New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz," George Buck asserts. "Other places in the South they didn't allow the slaves to play drums because they were afraid that they might send messages, you see, for a revolt. In New Orleans, just like it is today, everything goes. You have dances, you have Congo Square where everything started."

George H. Buck, Jr. runs a non-profit association that maintains a collection of early jazz recordings. Listen to five tunes from the early days of jazz and read one New Orleanian's thoughts on the origins of jazz. His love of music and his love of his hometown shine through.

"Everything started in New Orleans. The Confederate Army dumped their instruments here. The instruments were readily available to any one who just had a few dollars to buy them, so we had all that going here. They did not have that in other places in the South. The beboppers tried to claim that the music was instantaneously born everywhere, but it wasn't just born everywhere."

George Buck's records keep important early recordings in print, as essential to the future of jazz as its history. "[Conservatory taught musicians] know how to teach music in written form so that's why they get the arrangements of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie or something like that, but they don't know how to play traditional jazz because that's something you have got to feel. So you just can't teach it. That's the way it is."

What a Friend We Have in Jesus (3:32)

Eh, La Bas (3:00)

Careless Love (4:21)

I Ain't Got Nobody (4:44)

Dill Pickles (2:26)


back to top page created on 12.1.2006

New Orleans American Experience

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: