This book grew out of the author’s long interest in the interactions between the chanson française and jazz, which was triggered by Louis Armstrong 1950 English rendition of “La vie en rose,” recorded only five years after it had been written by the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. After purchasing the 1867 anthology Slave Songs of the United States, which comprises seven plantation songs in Creole French, she devoted her research to the Louisiana Creoles whose contribution to the development of early jazz deserved better recognition, than the quick mention they usually received in jazz history books.

1- Creole, Creolization, the Creole State, and the Creoles

A (Very) Short History of the Creole State
The Creoles of Louisiana
Race Relations

Chapter 1 presents the process of Creolization as both a concept and a sociological and historical model useful to describe the development of jazz, that started as a localized and versatile micromusic played by musicians of varied cultural background. A (very) short history of Louisiana and a description of its Creole communities and changing race relations provides information to better understand the wide range of music played in New Orleans since the early days of the French colony. The chapter closes by introducing the interviews of two women, Alice Zeno (1864–1960) and Jeanne Wogan Arguedas (1886–1969), whose lives offer concrete examples of the complex integration and daily contacts of the many cultures and social classes in the city and neighboring plantations.

Part I: The Precursors of Jazz

2- Black American / French Creole Folk Music

Characteristics of Black American Folk Music
Plantation Songs
Work Songs, Street Cries, and Voodoo Songs
Congo Square

Chapter 2 starts by describing the characteristics of, and similarities between, Black American folk music and Creole songs and their variants, while outlining the latter distinctive use of Caribbean rhythms such as the habanera and the tresillo. Creoles songs, including dance songs, work songs, street cries, and Voodoo songs, were played and sang on the French plantations, Congo Square and in the streets of New Orleans. New information about Congo Square after the Civil War where Danses Créoles were held, along with the survival of similar dances, and Voodoo ceremonies in New Orleans and in the countryside strongly suggest that early jazz musicians might have witnessed remnant of the antebellum Sunday gatherings of enslaved people during their childhood.

3- French Religious Music

The Catholic Church in Louisiana
The Ursuline Manuscript: Nouvelles poésies spirituelles et morales
The Cantiques

From the early days of the colony, African Americans were exposed to the music of the Catholic Church By 1754, the Ursulines owned a manuscript of spiritual or moral songs, Nouvelles Poésies Spirituelles et Morales, sung in French at a time when many characteristics of French vocal technique, such as the notes inégales, were very similar to African American music. Founded in the 1830s by three Free Women of Color Les Sœurs de la Sainte-Famille—The Sisters of the Holy Family—also used music as an important part of their educational and evangelizing efforts. Singing cantiques both at church and at home, Creole Catholics eventually appropriated them by preserving only the most dramatic elements of the lyrics which they performed with a syncopated but flowing rhythm, making them the French counterpart of the Negro Spirituals, along which they stand as one of the precursors of jazz.

4- European Music and Dances

Balls and Dance Music
Classical Music and Composers
Military Music

Carnival and balls were very popular among all social classes, free or enslaved, before and after the Civil War, providing work for many Creole musicians. Concerts and operas were also popular and, in 1830s, a Société Philharmonique was founded by Creoles of Color (as they were then called), while Edmond Dédé, Lucien and Sydney Lambert, Samuel Snaër, and Basile Barès emerged as talented Black and Creole composers. Inspired by Creole songs he had heard a child, Louis Moreau Gottschalk (a White Creole, 1829–1869) composed pieces, such as the Louisiana quartet in which he used the habanera and other syncopated rhythms, that are now generally considered as precursors of ragtime—and by extension, early jazz. Military music also provided working opportunities for Creole soldier-musicians and paved the way to many brass bands active in New Orleans after the Civil War.

Part II: Early Jazz

5- Early Jazz Creole Musicians

The Tio Family
Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe/Jelly Roll Morton (1885 or 1890–1941)
Edouard/Edward “Kid” Ory (1886–1973)
Elizabeth Marie (Mary) Landreaux/Lizzie Miles (1895–1963)
Sydney Bechet (1897–1959)

This chapter outlines the lives a few Creole musicians that played a significant role in the development of jazz at the turn of the twentieth century, such as:
- Louis “Papa” Tio and his nephew, Lorenzo Tio Jr., who both belong to a family of influential clarinetists and teachers whose musical history can be traced back to the war of 1812.
- Jelly Roll Morton, pianist, arranger, and bandleader considered to be the first jazz composer. Several of his compositions, included Caribbean-derived syncopated rhythms—such as the habanera and the tresillo—which he described as the “Spanish Tinge.”
- Edward “Kid” Ory, trombonist, bandleader and composer, influential in the earlier career of Louis Armstrong.
- Lizzie Miles, one of the first touring and recording blues/jazz singer.
- Sidney Bechet, who largely contributed to the development of jazz saxophone and the diffusion of jazz in Europe and the (then) USSR.

6- The Early Jazz Revival and the Creole Songs

The Creole Songs
The Creole Songs and Early Jazz
The Revival Recordings of Creole Songs

During the formative years of jazz (1890-1917), Creoles songs—already popular during the nineteenth century—were performed both at home and professionally as part of the vast repertoire of early jazz musicians. The first jazz histories published in the 1930s led to the early jazz revival of the 1940s and 1950s, during which some Creoles songs were finally recorded. The revival recordings of “Eh La Bas,” “Toucoutou / Blanche Touquatoux,” and “Les Ognons” well exemplify the adaptation of Creole songs in the jazz idiom. Moreover, their spontaneous composition and/or improvised lyrics, and their formal flexibility indicate that the Creole songs form an original repertoire that belongs both to the Black American folk music that gave birth to jazz, as well as to Franco-American folk music and cultural heritage of Louisiana. Indeed, since the 1867 publication of Slave Songs of the United States, (discussed in chapter 2), some eighty to a hundred Creole songs have been collected by various musicians and scholars.



1- More About Creolization and Creole Identity
Appendix 1 provides further information about the concept and process of creolization as well as Creole as a cultural identity and its role in identity politics.
2- Chanson du Vié Boscugo/Michié Préval (Dansez Calinda)
Appendix 2 includes eight different versions of the Chanson du Vié Boscugo later known as Michié Préval / Mesieur Mazureau or Dansé Calinda, that demonstrate the flexibility of its lyrics and melody, that allowed Creoles to create/improvise many version of the same song as they adapted it to new
social events.
3- Cantique: Tombeau, Tombeau Marie-Madeleine
4- Cantique: Dans un Jardin Solitaire
5- Cantique: Marie-Madeleine, Laisse-Moi Passer
6- Cantique: Grand Dieu Du Ciel
Appendices 3 to 6 include musical and textual analyses of several cantiques—including the old melody on which one was originally a popular air, later
published in the1811 collection called La Clé du Caveau—that demonstrate the process of their appropriation by the Creoles, as described in Chapter 3.



Selected Discography