February 26: Livery Stable Blues

livery_stable_bluesIt’s rare that you can point to one song and distinctly cite it as the first record of its genre. For instance, there’s still much debate about what was the first rock and roll record. Even when it seems there’s agreement, such as the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” traditionally being cited as the first hip-hop record, there’s still debate. In that case, some give that title to the Fatback Band’s “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” or other tracks. So, with all that said, jazz is unique in that there is distinctly one recording that all pop music scholars point to as “the first jazz record”: The Original Dixieland Jass Band’s “Livery Stable Blues” which was recorded on this day in 1917.

The Original Dixieland Jass Band were a New Orleans based group of white musicians. They frequently played some of the hottest clubs in New York and Chicago, introducing these two cities to the sound of New Orleans. They were soon approached by a few record labels to record and initially did a few tracks for Columbia, but none of those recordings were usable. Then, on February 26, 1917 they did a recording session for Victor during which they recorded “Livery Stable Blues” and “Dixie Jass Band One-Step”. The record was released on March 7 and became a big hit. In fact, it might have been the first record to sell a million copies. From there, it was only a matter of time before jazz was being played all across America.

As you’re listening to “Livery Stable Blues”, why not mix up another New Orleans classic? The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Seriously, the Louisiana Legislature officially proclaimed it as such in 2008. The cocktail was invented in New Orleans’ Sazerac House and was originally made with Sazerac cognac and bitters created by local druggist Antoine Amedie Peychaud. The drink was made with Brandy for years, until the 1870s when France’s wine grape crops were devastated by a phylloxera epidemic, forcing Sazerac proprietor Thomas Handy to change the cocktail’s main ingredient to rye whiskey.

Sazerac

  • 2 ounces Rye Whiskey
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 splash of Absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube

In an Old Fashioned glass muddle a sugar cube with ice water and then add ice cubes, rye whiskey and bitters and stir. In a second, chilled, Old Fashioned glass, roll around the splash of absinthe until the glass is nicely coated. Strain the contents of the first glass into the second and garnish with a lemon twist.

Tomorrow: The rising sun.

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