Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Vancouver Jazz

102 East Georgia had some memorable residents including Oscar Holden. Holden was the band leader at the Patricia Cabaret - a talented and skilled musician. Sadly, his place in the Vancouver jazz scene seems to be overshadowed by the presence of New Orlean's Storyville's Jelly Roll Morton, a jazz pioneer from that area.

Morton claimed to be band leader at Vancouver's hottest jazz spot, the Patricia Cabaret, but the evidence points to Holden holding that position.

Oscar Holden left Vancouver in the 1920s for Seattle. There he is remembered and treasured. “He had a wonderful musical education. He was a great, great performer.” recalls a fellow Seattle musician.

Holden became a pioneer and patriarch of Seattle's much larger jazz scene. Who knows what would have happened if Oscar Holden had stayed in Vancouver and been treated better.

Both men may have been jazz musicians but Jelly Roll Morton and Oscar Holden were quite different.

Holden wanted to be able to settle down, to raise a family. He had come north from Tennessee because he wanted to get his children away from the ugly racism of the times there.

Morton though was an incessant traveller and a consummate self promoter. Jelly Roll would tell great stories - where he was usually the central figure - and I don't think the truth played a big part in his recollections. According to Morton, the Patricia Cabaret thrived under his musical leadership yet, when he left, the club floundered. Jelly Roll even went so far as to list himself, and himself alone, as the inventor of jazz.

The Lincoln Club would have been the place to go after hours to hear great music and socialize with talented musicians. Oscar Holden's "Hoosier Drummer", William Hoy also lived above the Lincoln Club. Although it isn't confirmed, it is logical that many of the performers like George Paris, Ada Bricktop Smith, Jelly Roll Morton and others stopped by the club to dance, jam, gamble and let loose. The black performers such as Bill "Bojangles" Robinson who passed through town probably also stopped by.

Can you imagine going to the Lincoln Club after hours and socializing with all these musicians? What stories you would have had to tell your children and grandchildren about the night you sat and drank with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson or another jazz legend.

Thanks to the Past Tense blog for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Nice blog. Seems like it was a great time to live. We probably would have been the way we are today as then, but I enjoyed the fantasy of living then. The house kind of reminds me of home.

    1. Thanks Lee. I thought about that when I was writing on sitting around the Lincoln Club with jazz legends. Some of us may do the same thing today as in sitting with musicians who rise to the top.