In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz

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LSU Press, Sep 1, 2005 - Music - 256 pages

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. Despite his lack of formal training, his unique style—both musical and personal—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. This paperback edition includes a new preface and appendix relating events and discoveries that have occurred since the book’s original publication in 1978.


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Exposing the Legend
Family History and City Neighborhoods
Schooling and Early Musical Influences
Forming the Early Bolden Band 18951900
The RampartPerdido Area
Personality and Family Life
How and What He Played
Demise as a Musician
Institutionalization and Death

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About the author (2005)

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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