Connections: Jazz Roots (2011) | ETV Classics

It's called America's classical music - jazz.

In this episode of Connections, learn about Jazz Roots in South Carolina. 

Host P.A. Bennett sits down with Dr. Dick Goodwin to discuss South Carolina's place in jazz history. He brings up the Jenkins Orphanage Band and states that their music was mostly marches, hymn tunes, and some popular tunes from the time. His favorite was Jabbo Smith, a contemporary of Louis Armstrong's. His technique was equal to that of Armstrong, but he didn't have the advantage of a record company to back him up. Cat Anderson also came out of the Jenkins Orphanage Band and was very well-known for playing with Duke Ellington. Dr. Goodwin also recalls Johnny Helms and Terry Rosen as highly respected and well-known in South Carolina.

Jazz has largely been protected by the universities, and South Carolina State provided band members to Count Basie's band. Dr. Goodwin mentions the Carolina Jazz Society, which has been active for 52 years at this time and plays traditional jazz. Dr. Goodwin also mentions Chris Potter, who grew up in Columbia, and is doing very well in his career in New York, and brings up all the success that Dizzy Gillespie from Cheraw has had throughout his lifetime.

In our next segment, we discuss one of the greatest jazz trumpet players of all time, credited with the start of the Be-Bop movement, Dizzy Gillespie, who was born in Cheraw in 1917 and died in 1993. His official biographer, Al Fraser, author of To Be or Not To Bop. 

Fraser describes Dizzy Gillespie as a South Carolinian who was especially important because all of the elements that he brought together were modernized and brought into the music he presented. He was bluesy but had a different sense of rhythm and style. By picking up on Jabbo Smith, who began to play trumpet in a much different way and in a more modern way, Dizzy began to adapt it and to make that style his own. 

Next, Mr. Gene Dykes carries on the Big Band Jazz tradition with his group of talented musicians - The Gene Dykes Orchestra. Dykes states that his career has been tremendous and recalls the clubs on 52nd Street that featured the best players of the time. He discusses studying his cord progressions and the importance of practicing. Any tune that he heard, he could play, and his band has 482 tunes that they can play. He says what a good art form it is, and he doesn't think he could be happier playing anything else after all these years.


Side Notes:

Here is a range of South Carolina Jazz musicians born between 1905 – 1971:

  • Drink Small – “Blues Doctor – Bishopville - Guitar
  • Johnny Helms – Columbia, SC – Jazz Trumpet Player
  • Chris Potter – Chris Potter – Jazz Saxophonist – Columbia, SC
  • Dick Goodwin – Composer, Arranger, Pianist – Columbia, SC


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