Early New Orleans Jazz Musicians
|In 1938, during the revival of New Orleans style jazz, Mezz Mezzrow (left), James
P. Johnson (seated), Tommy Ladnier (right) perform in recording sessions
organized by jazz critic, Hugues Panassie (standing, center).
|Tony Parenti, shown in 1911, at age ten, was a
child prodigy. He worked in Papa Jack Laine's
band and with Johnny Dedroit and Nick La
Rocca before moving to New York. There, he
was a member of the Radio City Symphony
Orchestra in the '30's and had his own band in
the '40's, Tony Parenti & His New Orleanians.
|Like other early New Orleans jazz musicians,
Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau's career had a
resurgence in the 1930's-'40's. He played in
Bunk Johnson's band in the 1940's and George
Lewis' band in the '40's-'50's. He could often
be found at Preservation Hall in the 1960's.
He died in New Orleans in 1969.
|Alphonse Picou and Oscar "Papa"Celestin
Below, Joseph "Cornbread" Thomas stands by Oscar "Papa" Celestin's
grave on the day that Dave Oxley was buried; New Orleans, 1974.
|Alphonse Picou, shown standing, with his wife, was a
popular clarinetist, born in New Orleans in 1878. He played
in many early influential bands, including Buddy Bolden,
Bunk Johnson, Papa Jack Laine and Freddie Keppard, as
well as the Olympia and Excelsior Brass Bands. He
traveled to Chicago and New York, but came back to New
Orleans, saying he preferred his hometown. He was a
fixture at clubs in the French Quarter for many years.
When he died in 1961, his funeral procession was one of the
largest the city had ever had.
Albert Glenny, seated, was a bass player who played in
Buddy Bolden's band, as well as many others. He was born
in New Orleans in 1870 and died there in 1958.
|Freddie Keppard, standing, was among the
great New Orleans horns. Early on, he
played in the Olympia Orchestra and Frank
Dusen's band, before joining Bill Johnson
to create the Original Creole Orchestra.
Some musicians who remembered Buddy
Bolden said that Freddie Keppard sounded
more like Bolden than anyone else.
Keppard moved to Chicago where he
remained the rest of his life.
"Big Eye" Louis Nelson Delisle, seated,
was born and spent most of his life in New
Orleans. Like many of the early jazz
musicians, he was playing in the Storyville
District by the time he was a teenager. He
played with several bands, including the
Original Creole Orchestra.
|Prof. Toney Jackson, pianist; from the
description on this photo, taken in the
1890's: "Mr. Jackson is one of the best
entertainers in the city, and is well
liked. He is a good card." Image courtesy
of infrogmation at Wikimedia Commons.
|Louis "Kid Shots" Madison, New Orleans, 1946.
As a youngster, Louis Madison played with
Louis Armstrong in the Waif's Home Band. He
later worked in Papa Celestin's Tuxedo Jazz
Orchestra and the Eureka Brass Band. He
preferred to stay in New Orleans rather than
travel and continued playing music at night while
he worked for the city during the day. Kid Shots
Madison's own band played at the Cadillac Cafe
and the P & L Club and many others. He died in
1948 in New Orleans.
|Left: George Vital "Papa Jack" Laine, 1952. ~ Right: Arnold Loyacano stands at
the door of Laine's former home in the French Quarter. Papa Jack Laine was a
popular band leader in the city from the late 1890's til about 1920. He was a drummer,
but gained a reputation for his skill in arranging. His Reliance Brass Band was
influential in the development of jazz. Many of the New Orleans musicians who took
jazz all around the world, got their start in one of Laine's bands, which were known for
their ethnic diversity. His musicians were German, Italian, African-American, Jewish,
Latin American...the list goes on. He felt that music brought people together. Mr.
Laine retired from music in the 1920's, but he was often interviewed about the early
days of jazz. Just a few of the musicians who worked for Papa Jack Laine: Achille
Baquet, Abbie, Merrrit, Richie & George Brunies, Frank & Emile Christian, Eddie
Edwards, Marcus Kahn, Joe & Johnny Lala, Nick La Rocca, Joe & Arnold Loyacano,
Alcide Nunez, Alphonse Picou, Tony Sbarbaro, Lawrence Veca...and many, many
more. Papa Jack Laine died in New Orleans in 1966.
|Well-known trombonist, Bill Matthews, in photos above; the one on the left shows him
before a parade in New Orleans in 1960. Bill Matthews made recordings with Oscar
Celestin, Alphonse Picou, George Lewis, Alcide "Slow Drag" Pavageau, Alton Purnell,
Lawrence Marrero, Albert Burbank and many others; and performed with several bands at
clubs and events throughout the area. Bill Matthews died in 1964.
|Left to right: Clarinetist "Big Eye Louis"
Nelson; bass player Pops Foster; drummer
Paul Barbarin; Sidney Bechet; bass player
Albert Glenny; clarinetist Alphonse Picou, in
their hometown of New Orleans, 1944.
|Tom Brown was born in 1888 and one of the early jazz musicians in New Orleans. He
brought his Dixieland Jazz Band to Chicago early on and, also, toured nationally, but
came back to New Orleans, where he opened a music shop and played in a number of
bands, including his own, Tom Brown and his New Orleans Jazz Band, for the rest of
his life. He died in 1958.
|Avery "Kid" Howard was born
in New Orleans in 1908. He
played in bands such as the
Eureka Brass Band, Tuxedo
Brass Band and led the Original
Zenith Brass Band; he, also,
played and recorded with
George Lewis. He played at
New Orleans' Preservation Hall
for the last several years of his
life and passed away in 1966.
|Paul Barbarin, one of the best of the early jazz
drummers, was the son of Isidore Barbarin, who
played mellophone and trumpet in the Excelsior
Brass Band and the Onward Brass Band. Two of
Paul's brothers, Louis and Lucien, were, also, highly
regarded jazz musicians. Paul Barbarin played with
several bands throughout his career, including
Buddy Petit, Freddie Keppard, King Oliver's Dixie
Syncopators, Luis Russell's Orchestra and Sydney
Bechet's band. After stays in Chicago and New
York, Paul Barbarin returned home to stay in the
1940's, leading bands of his own. In the 1960's, he
re-organized his dad's Onward Brass Band and he
played at Preservation Hall. Paul Barbarin passed
away in 1969 in New Orleans. Five generations of
New Orleans Barbarins have been jazz musicians;
the latest is gifted trombonist, Lucien Barbarin.
|Arthur "Monk" Hazel was born across
the MS River from New Orleans in
1903. He was a drummer and cornetist
who played with many bands, including
Abbie Brunies' Halfway House
Orchestra, Tony Parenti, Johnny Wiggs.
He spent time in New York and
Hollywood, but eventually returned to
New Orleans, where he worked with Joe
Caprano, Sharkey Bonano, Mike Lala
and many others, as well as recording
with Pete Fountain and Al Hirt. Monk
Hazel died in New Orleans in 1968.
|Santo Pecora was born in New Orleans in 1902.
He played with many bands: Johnny DeDroit,
Leon Roppolo, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings
and Sharkey Bonano. After awhile in Chicago,
he returned home to New Orleans and continued
to play in clubs and on riverboats, remaining a
fixture in the local jazz scene until the 1960's.
Santo Pecora died in 1984.
|Sidney Bechet, pictured above, was born in New Orleans in 1897 and grew up in a
musical family. He toured early on and played in Chicago with Freddie Keppard and
King Oliver. He began as a clarinetist, but, while in England one time, bought a
saxophone and taught himself to play it; it became the primary instrument of his career,
though he still occasionally played clarinet. In the 1920's, he made some recordings with
Louis Armstrong and these records constitute an important body of New Orleans jazz
and influenced many musicians of the time. Work slowed during the Depression, but
with the New Orleans jazz revival of the 1930's-40's, his fortunes improved and the made
several recordings and toured Europe for the first time in 20 years and was wonderfully
received. In 1951, he moved to France and remained there the rest of his life. Sidney
Bechet died in 1959.
|This page of early Jazz musicians is by no means comprehensive. I encourage you to do some
research and learn more about the musicians and bands that made New Orleans Jazz famous.