- High Society (Porter Steele)
High Society is a multi-strain melody, originally a march copyrighted in April 1901 by
Porter Steele, which has become a traditional jazz standard.
The piccolo obligatto is not found in Steele's first version of the song; it appears to originate in an orchestration by
Robert Reckerfrom later in 1901. In New Orleans, Louisiana, Alphonse Picouadapted the piccolo part into a clarinetvariation, sometimes considered one of the earliest documented jazz solos. The Picou variations became standard in New Orleans jazz (unusual in a form that values improvization); many traditional jazz clarinetists from the generation just after Picou until today will copy or do a close paraphase of Picou's solo, sometimes followed by their own improvisations on a second chorus. Picou himself recorded it a number of times in his later life, including recordings with Kid Rena Papa Celestinand on film.
The tune was recorded as a march by
Charles Prince's Band in 1911. The first jazz recording of it made by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in 1923, with Johnny Doddson clarinet. Apparently unaware that the tune had previously been copyrighted, Gennett Recordsfiled a copyright on the tune as a Joe Oliver original.
In the 1920s
Walter Melroseadded words to it (which are never performed) and republished it, as he did to a number of jazz numbers in order to claim a larger share of the royalties.
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