First jazz hit turns 100; Dan Levinson all-stars to celebrate at Bickford, Feb. 20

Dan Levison. Photo by Seth Cashman
Dan Levison. Photo by Seth Cashman

As World War I was raging overseas, a new sound — jazz–was conquering the United States.

Clarinetist Dan Levinson and an all-star band will celebrate the centennial of the first jazz recording with a concert at the Bickford Theatre in Morris Township on Feb. 20, 2017.

Here’s more from the theater:

A Centennial Celebration of Recorded Jazz Comes To The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum

Clarinetist Dan Levinson fronts an all-star group

At the ‘Jass’ Band Ball: A Centennial Celebration of Recorded Jazz featuring Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jazz Band comes to the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum for one night only on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, at 8:00 pm.

Dan Levison. Photo by Seth Cashman
Dan Levinson. Photo by Seth Cashman

Events were in turmoil in February 1917. The U.S. was on the brink of entering World War I, the Russian Revolution was brewing, and the British Army was about to defeat the Ottoman forces in Baghdad.

In New York City, the Victor Talking Machine Company recorded two songs by five musicians from New Orleans called the “Original Dixieland Jass Band” led by cornetist Nick LaRocca.

The record that they made has been widely credited as the first commercially released jazz recording and it became a hit, taking the country by storm and captivating an entire world.

And now, 100 years later, Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band will take you back to that historic moment in time with an evening of those earliest jazz tunes that exalted a war-weary nation and propelled it into a wild, hypnotic jazz-induced frenzy.

Joining the popular clarinetist will be Mike Davis on cornet, Jeff Barnhart on piano, Matt Mussleman on trombone and Kevin Dorn on Drums.

The quintet will draw on tunes from its three hit CDs, including Livery Stable Blues, Clarinet Marmalade, The Sheik of Araby, Tiger Rag, Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me, That Da Da Strain, and When My Baby Smiles At Me, to name a few.

This centennial celebration of recorded jazz provides a rare opportunity to hear in concert the jazz tunes that laid the foundation for “one of America’s original art forms” and one of the most beloved musical styles in the world.

Tickets for Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band are $17 in advance and $20 at the door. Call (973) 971-3706, or visit the Bickford Theatre Box Office.

The Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre is at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morris Township, and offers free parking and full accessibility. Box office hours for phone sales are Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. Walk-up hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm.

About the Bickford Theatre

The Bickford Theatre is a professional theater that produces and presents year-round entertainment, including a Main Stage Series, two Children’s Theatre series, a Jazz Showcase Series, and other concerts. The theatre is an Equity Producing Theatre member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization of 30 professional theaters throughout the state, and works in conjunction with Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). From its beginnings in 1994 to the present, tens of thousands of theater-goers from across the tri-state area have enjoyed the Bickford Theatre’s many entertaining and diversified offerings in theatre, music and dance.

About the Morris Museum

Founded in 1913, the Morris Museum is an award-winning, community-based arts and cultural institution which serves the public through high-caliber exhibitions in the arts, sciences and humanities.

The Museum also offers educational programs, family events, and is home to the Bickford Theatre and its wide range of performing arts offerings. Continuously serving the public since 1913, the Morris Museum has been designated a Major Arts Institution and has received the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ Citation of Excellence, among other awards. The first museum in New Jersey to be accredited, the Morris Museum was re-accredited in 2013 by the American Alliance of Museums.

The Morris Museum is a Blue Star Museum, offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Location and Hours

The Museum is at 6 Normandy Heights Road (at the corner of Columbia Turnpike) in Morris Township, and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday, noon to 5 pm. In addition, the Museum is open evenings from 5 to 8 pm on the second and third Thursday of the month. Admission to the Museum is $10 for adults and $7 for children, students and senior citizens. Admission is always free for Museum members. For more information, call (973) 971-3700, or visit

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