"Royal Garden Blues" - Kid Ory
Another early jazz traditional with a connection to Chicago, the birthplace of New Orleans Jazz. This tune was named for the Royal Gardens Dance Hall, known later as the Lincoln Gardens, the musical home for many New Orleans musicians during the early Twentieth Century, such as King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band which was later re-named to Louis Armstrong. Satchmo and Co. recorded this tune years later and credited Clarence Williams and Spencer Williams as its composers. Got all that?
Much of this history is outlined at JazzStandards.com, including a reference to historians David A. Jesen and Gene Jones, who question the legitimacy of the publishing credits. They suggest that the legal team of Williams & Williams were merely the names on the dotted line of the publishing deal and may not have actually composed the tune, a common business practice of its time. And the trouble with proving this kind of negative accusation is that there is no solid evidence that Clarence Williams did NOT write the tune. And then prove to me that I am NOT a space cowboy, while you’re at it.
The issue of copyright and mistaken ownership goes back further than King James and his bookshelf. And even in this Twenty-first Century of the good word, technology has made it easier than ever for Creators to self-publish their own works, as well as others’ stolen digital content, with the aspirations of verified fame, virality, and wealth in the form of clicks, views, comments, subscribes, thumbs, Likes, Retweets, Shares, and ad revenue. Perhaps the reception to this business model is the same today as it was a century ago, and centuries before that: embrace it and don’t ask questions.
Oh… and Patrons, too. Don’t forget about those who profit off the work of others via Patreon.
Here is a YouTube video of Kid Ory and his band riffing on this tune in 1959.
Recommended reading: Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz by John McCusker. Published by University Press of Mississippi.