Refining The Buddy Bolden Legacy

… excellent talk from David Sager at our just passed Satchmo SummerFest.  He expanded a little on the mythical story of the cylinder recordings of Bolden’s Band that were supposedly made on or before 1898.

Buddy Bolden is generally identified as either the first or at least the first high-profile jazz musician — maybe even a sort of proto-jazz musician.  He lived and played around the turn of the 19th-20th century.  Both his life and his music are very poorly documented, although “In Search Of Buddy Bolden” by Donald Marquis is probably still the best single source on what little we do know (or can surmise) about him.

Sager updated the legend about the existence of the cylinder recordings, which has been around for at least several decades.  The original primary source suggesting their existence is Bolden’s former trombone player, Willie Cornish.  The possibility of the recordings isn’t so far-fetched because, apparently, many of the home cylinder players in that early period of recorded music also had recording capability.  It would have been relatively easy to make some amateur recordings of almost anyone.  Because of his popularity, Bolden would have been a likely candidate.

Of course, the cylinders haven’t (yet!) been found.  If they did turn up, the sound quality would probably be abysmal … if they were even playable.

Sager is an archivist with the Library Of Congress and is the curator for their online jukebox.