ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




He was the Man, a wild blues horn / that set a salon or a joint on fire.


                                                                                                                                                                                    Charles “Buddy” Bolden, 1895



Books on Buddy Bolden


In Search of Buddy Bolden / Buddy Bolden Blues / Buddy Bolden and the Last Days of Storyville /  Buddy Bolden Says


Let That Bad Air Out  / The Loudest Trumpet  / Buddy Bolden of New Orleans: A Jazz Poem


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Didn’t He Ramble 

                     —for Charles “Buddy” Bolden

                                                  By Rudolph Lewis

If the Devil  is a master musician, Buddy Bolden

was his Trumpet. This black boy had it in him. Seems 

like only yesterday on a First Street

box step he played notes bodaciously

that started in the toes as hoodoo. And in no

time he had the body in a wild reckless joy.

Had you blind, simple, crazy—cakewalking,

Second-Line stepping along Rampart & Perdido.


Had the damnest eyes women call bedroom eyes.

He’d have the ladies swaying like Pontchatrain

palms to a slow blues. Waiting in desperation,

knowing he the One. They felt it as women

feel it. They’d say, “Ain’t that Kid something.

Those eyes, that honey skin.” They all

wanted to wean him on their special brew.

The King took a breast full and then some.


Got to be the Sweet Man: a diamond smile. 

Tight and easy, dressed as the Cock of 

St. Peter, he ruffled, pleased the Ladies 

of the Globe. Each will take a piece 

before the night ends. He’s generous—

market feet busy in the streets. Those eyes, 

that smile would say, “Lay me a pallet, on 

the floor, make it low, make it soft.” 


He was the Uno, a wild blues horn

that set a salon or a joint on fire.


In Algiers, his wailing staccato burst 

snapped a drag world  living in an echo 

chamber of quadrille and lace.

In Pecan Grove, a new jazzed-up world 

came to life. Big, brassy, b-flat notes 

of Delta sugarcane cutters and Mississippi

cotton pickers—raw-bone blues men black 

& sweaty. Washerwomen regal, balancing  

mountains of other people’s clothes & sins, 

smelling like lye. He didn’t care


He took them all on. With his breath

raised  to the Milky Way, Funky Butt

conquered the stars whipping space 

with quilted sounds. Buddy Bolden served 

up a gumbo. Threw it all in. Didn’t care what 

other bands did. He knew what the blues 

could do. When he told his children to come

—they came, clapping their hands, moving 

their rhythm feet. When he told them to go 

they went dancing  . . .


Bolden’s funk broke all the  walls down

into natural soul. Stepped in everybody’s yard

—the sheets of quadrille folks along Esplanade.


And I heard him say, heard him shout, “Open

that window! Open it and let that foul air out!”

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Members of Bolden’s band included: William Warner or Frank Lewis (clarinet);  Willy Cornish (piston trombone); Brock Mumford (guitar); James Johnson (bass); and Cornelius Tillman or McMurray (drums).

Buddy Bolden Band. Charles “Buddy” Bolden, 2nd from left in rear

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Buddy Bolden was a lover of music

The Great Buddy Bolden—Buddy Bolden Blues

Part of a recording of an interview of Jelly Roll Morton by Alan Lomax in 1938. Jazz history archive material. Jelly sings and plays Buddy Bolden Blues, and tells of his experiences watching Buddy in New Orleans, and talks about the great Buddy Bolden. “Buddy was the blowinest man since Gabriel!”.

Buddy Bolden Story with Wynton Marsalis

Jelly Roll Morton—Buddy Bolden’s Blues

Jelly Roll Morton playing and singing his composition of “Buddy Bolden’s Blues”

Buddy Bolden’s Blues

                      Lyrics by Jelly Roll Morton.

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say You nasty, you dirty—take it away You terrible, you awful—take it away I thought I heard him say

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout Open up that window and let that bad air out Open up that window, and let the foul air out I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say

I thought I heard Judge Fogarty say

Thirty days in the market—take him away

Get him a good broom to sweep with—take him away

I thought I heard him say


I thought I heard Frankie Dusen shout

Gal, give me that money—I’m gonna beat it out

I mean give me that money, like I explain you, or I’m gonna beat it out

I thought I heard Frankie Dusen say

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Let That Bad Air Out: Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade

A Novel in Linocut by Stefan Rerg

In a series of brilliantly rendered linocut relief prints, Berg tells the story of Buddy Bolden, a New Orleans jazz musician living from 1877 to 1931. Each crisp image masterfully succeeds in evoking a feeling of the fluidity of the music, the boisterousness of the community, and the darkness of the events surrounding the musician’s demise. An introduction by Donald M. Marquis, author of In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz, and an afterword by renowned artist, George A. Walker, round out this collection.

Fans of the graphic novel genre and enthusiasts of linocut relief printmaking will surely be pleased with Let That Bad Air Out: Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade. Highly recommended.

Stefan Berg revives the wordless graphic novel in his portrait of he `first man of jazz’. Very little is known of Buddy Bolden. His music was never recorded and there is only one existing photograph, yet he is considered to be the first bandleader to play the improvised music that has since become known as jazz.

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In Search Of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz

By Donald M. Marquis

The beginnings of jazz and the story of Charles “Buddy” Bolden (1877–1931) are inextricably intertwined. Just after the turn of the century, New Orleanians could often hear Bolden’s powerful horn from the city’s parks and through dance hall windows. He had no formal training, but what he lacked in technical finesse he made up for in style. It was this—his unique style, both musical and personal—that made him the first “king” of New Orleans jazz and the inspiration for such later jazz greats as King Oliver, Kid Ory, and Louis Armstrong.

For years the legend of Buddy Bolden was overshadowed by myths about his music, his reckless lifestyle, and his mental instability. In Search of Buddy Bolden overlays the myths with the substance of reality. Interviews with those who knew Bolden and an extensive array of primary sources enliven and inform Donald M. Marquis’s absorbing portrait of the brief but brilliant career of the first man of jazz.

For this paperback edition, Marquis has added a new preface and appendix. He relates events and discoveries that have occurred since the book’s original publication in 1978, including a jazz funeral and a monument erected in honor of Bolden in 1996, the locating of Bolden’s granddaughter, the proper identification of Bolden’s clarinet players, and the unfortunate confirmation of the destruction of the last known Bolden recording.

Donald M. Marquis, jazz curator emeritus of the Louisiana State Museum, lives in New Orleans. He is also the author of Finding Buddy Bolden and A Nifty Place to Grow Up.

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Buddy Bolden and the Last Days of Storyville

By Danny Barker and Alyn Shipton

In 1986, jazz guitarist, banjoist, singer and composer Danny Barker (who died in 1994) published the first volume of his memoirs A Life in Jazz, which was widely praised as an addition to the history of jazz. This is a further selection of Barker’s writings (beginning with a long portrait of Buddy Bolden, the “first man of jazz”) drawn from conversations and interviews with the generation of jazzmen that invented the music. Many of those interviewed were musicians Danny Barker knew and worked with. The book also contains Barker’s own recollections of Storyville in its dying days, plus more material dating from his pioneering period of work in the big bands, with a memoir of trombonist Charlie Green, and of life on the road with Cab Calloway

Danny Barker (1900-94) was one of the great originals of jazz, a witty singer and performer, and a member of some of the most prestigious bands in jazz history, including those led by Henry Allen, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter and Lucky Millinder.

Alyn Shipton presents jazz radio programmes for the BBC and is a critic for The Times in London. He is the author of several books on music as well as a music publisher and editor. His most recent book is Groovin’ High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie published by Oxford University Press in 1999, voted “Book of the Year” by Jazz Times and winner of the 2000 ARSC award for best research in recorded sound.

Mister Jelly Roll: The Fortunes of Jelly Roll Morton

New Orleans Creole and “Inventor of Jazz”

By Alan Lomax

When it appeared in 1950, this biography of Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton became an instant classic of jazz literature. Now back in print and updated with a new afterword by Lawrence Gushee, Mister Jelly Roll will enchant a new generation of readers with the fascinating story of one of the world’s most influential composers of jazz. Jelly Roll’s voice spins out his life in something close to song, each sentence rich with the sound and atmosphere of the period in which Morton, and jazz, exploded on the American and international scene. This edition includes scores of Jelly Roll’s own arrangements, a discography and an updated bibliography, a chronology of his compositions, a new genealogical tree of Jelly Roll’s forebears, and Alan Lomax’s preface from the hard-to-find 1993 edition of this classic work.

Lawrence Gushee’s afterword provides new factual information and reasserts the importance of this work of African American biography to the study of jazz and American culture.

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Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans 

By Louis Armstrong

“In all my whole career the Brick House was one of the toughest joints I ever played in. It was the honky-tonk where levee workers would congregate every Saturday night and trade with the gals who’d stroll up and down the floor and the bar. Those guys would drink and fight one another like circle saws. Bottles would come flying over the bandstand like crazy, and there was lots of just plain common shooting and cutting. But somehow all that jive didn’t faze me at all, I was so happy to have some place to blow my horn.” So says Louis Armstrong about just one of the places he grew up in, a tough kid who also happened to be a musical genius. This story of his early life, concluding with his departure to Chicago to play with his boyhood idol King Oliver, is a fascinating document.

Contrary to popular belief, it turns out that life in New Orleans was an amazingly eventful and a basically happy experience for Louis Armstrong-and he ought to know-for in no other city in the world at the time could a boy discover and learn about the music that he loved, for this was New Orleans, and he was Louis Armstrong.

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Treat It Gentle: An Autobiography

By Sidney Bechet

One of the most eloquent autobiographies ever written by an American artist.—Martin Williams

A legend on both the clarinet and the soprano saxophone, one of the most brilliant exponents of New Orleans jazz, Sidney Bechet (1897–1959) played with such fellow jazz legends as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Jelly Roll Morton. Here is his vivid story written in his own words. Expressive, frank, and hilarious, this classic in jazz literature re-creates a man, a music, and an era.

 Bechet led a colorful life from New Orleans in the early days of jazz to France where he finally earned the recognition he deserved.. . .John Chilton’s biography, Sidney Bechet: The Wizard of Jazz, makes a good companion piece, filling in the gaps and providing musical analysis.

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Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance

By Marshall Stearns and Jean Stearns

Marshall Stearns, who taught college English, specializing in Chaucer, loved jazz, thought about jazz, taught about jazz, wrote about jazz, and, as the foundation of all this, took jazz seriously. His The Story of Jazz became a standard work in its field, and he then went on to document the dancing that went with the music. With his wife Jean, he spent seven years doing research, not only in libraries but among the living archives of dancers’ memories. They conducted interviews with every jazz dancer they could find, at a time when jazz dancers seemed to be members of an endangered species.

Now, thanks to Da Capo Press, Jazz Dance is again available, as a paperback ($16.95), augmented with a new foreword and afterword by Brenda Bufalino, artistic director of the American Tap Dance Orchestra.

Although the book takes its subject only up to 1966—when Marshall Stearns died of a heart attack shortly after the manuscript was completed—it’s still essential reading for anyone interested in jazz, in dance, and in the American musical theater.—FindArticles

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Ancient African Nations

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The State of African Education (April 200)

Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

Part 2 of 7  /  Part 3 of 7  / Part 4 of 7  / Part 5 of 7 / Part 6 of 7  /  Part 7 of 7

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John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

This video chronicles the life and times of the noted African-American historian, scholar and Pan-African activist John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998). Both a biography of Clarke himself and an overview of 5,000 years of African history, the film offers a provocative look at the past through the eyes of a leading proponent of an Afrocentric view of history. From ancient Egypt and Africa’s other great empires, Clarke moves through Mediterranean borrowings, the Atlantic slave trade, European colonization, the development of the Pan-African movement, and present-day African-American history.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 8 July 2008



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Related Files:    Didn’t He Ramble   Buddy Bolden in New Orleans   Buddy Bolden Short Story  Ode to a Magic City

    buddy bolden’s blues legacy 


Ain’t Going Back No More   What To Do With The Negroes?   Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans  Evtushenko in Satchmo’s New Orleans    Babii Yar  Lit a la Russe  Armstrong’s Trumpet