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Book: Kansas City Jazz

Chapter: From Stomp to Swing: From Tuba to Bull Fiddle

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42618


African-American music of the Southwest was described by its composers and those who danced to it as having a “stomp” rhythm, a term that occurs in New Orleans jazz, particularly in works by “Jelly Roll” Morton, whose travels through the region—including Kansas City—has been largely overlooked in the past. This rhythm came to characterize Kansas City jazz as the bass horn as the “bottom” voice in brass band music gave way to the string bass, also known as the double bass or “bull fiddle.” Walter Page, whose band Bill Basie heard out his hotel window, is generally credited with the development of this instrument as the foundation of the jazz that would originate in the region, and in shifting the rhythmic structure of the region’s jazz from the two-beat foundation of New Orleans to a four-beat structure that would underlie the music that came to be known as “swing.”

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