This two-story house was the home of Original Dixieland Jazz Band cornetist Nick LaRocca (1889-1961). The design on the screen doors is the musical notation of the theme from “Tiger Rag,” a jazz standard that LaRocca was credited with writing. He was raised here in a strict Sicilian household that emphasized formal music education and looked down on ragtime and the informal music he loved as a youth.
While LaRocca played a key role in spreading jazz around the world, his denial of the debt he owed to African American musicians has deeply complicated his legacy. Though his style and repertoire owed much to black bands, LaRocca has said:
“My contention is that the negroes learned to play this rhythm and music from the whites…. The negro did not play any kind of music equal to white men at any time.”
Dominic “Nick” LaRocca and Luigi Martini reel-to-reel tape correspondence, from the late 1950s
Early Jazz oral history as told by Dominic “Nick” LaRocca, with Brian Rust