Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Tom Brown

Elsewhere in this blog we published a photograph of Mrs. Agnes Brown, wife of jazzman Tom Brown.

Today is Tom Brown's birthday. He was born in New Orleans in 1888 and was among the first wave of white jazz musicians like Papa Jack Laine, with whom he played before 1910 when he organized his own band. His brother Steve was a noted bass player.

He played violin, bass and trombone, was a successful musician in Chicago and New York, then returned to New Orleans and had continued success there. Eventually he opened a radio repair shop on Magazine and enjoyed a second career of sorts playing traditional jazz during the revival in the late '50's.

Here's another great picture from the Brown archives:

Alcide "Yellow" Nunez, Tom Brown, and Frank Christian

Perhaps Brown's greatest legacy is coining the word "Jass" to describe the type of music his bands played. This was corrupted into jazz and there you have it.

Happy birthday, Tom Brown!


EmLit said...

That's a pretty far out picture. Any word on why "jass"? Did he truly just make it up because he liked the sound of it, or was there some sort of relation to something else?

Bret Littlehales said...

I think it's a slang word for copulation, at least that's what I've read. Other sources disagree.