Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz


The definitive biography of the great band leader and New Orleans Jazz performer
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Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz

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The definitive biography of the great band leader and New Orleans Jazz performer
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"John McCusker's impressive research and deft writing have produced a first-rate biography of this influential jazz pioneer set against the colorful backdrop of New Orleans in the early years of the 20th century. A must-read!"

--Tom Sancton, author of Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White

"If you love jazz and you love New Orleans, Creole Trombone is a must-read. With meticulous research and elegant writing, John McCusker evokes the magical time when a young man could rise out of sugar cane fields and change the world with his music. Kid Ory's life was a brilliant ramble, and McCusker has told it with perfect pitch."

--Jonathan Eig, New York Times best-selling author of Luckiest Man, Opening Day, and Get Capone

"Much about early jazz history is unknown. But, as John McCusker ably demonstrates here, the unknown is not necessarily unknowable. Making meticulous use of the written record, in Creole Trombone John McCusker places Ory in the broad context of jazz history and in the more rarified sanctum reserved for the three or four most important musicians in the development of early jazz."

--Lolis Eric Elie, story editor for HBO's Treme

"At last! John McCusker's Creole Trombone provides a compelling account of the early life and career of Ed Ory, one of the most fascinating protagonists in the development of New Orleans jazz. Through meticulous research and an innate sensitivity to Louisiana's distinctive couture de métissage, McCusker has brought hitherto undiscovered aspects of Ory's life to light, while deepening our understanding of his contributions to the idiom."

--Bruce Boyd Raeburn, curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University and author of New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History

Library Journal
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist McCusker (photographer, New Orleans Times-Picayune) delivers a definitive biography of jazz pioneer Edward "Kid" Ory (1886–1973) that chronicles his significance as an artistic innovator (he invented the "tailgate" style of trombone playing, one of the pillars of Dixieland jazz) and as a sideman in the seminal Louis Armstrong's Hot Five sessions (during which he composed "Muskrat Ramble"). The author creates something beyond the standard chronological biography, masterfully using Ory's life story to examine themes of race and economic oppression from the sugarcane fields of Ory's youth to his self-identification as white in later years. (He was born into a mixed-race family.) McCusker buttresses his own research with Ory's remarkable unpublished autobiography, which contains such gems as a description of a preteen Louis Armstrong sitting in with Ory's group and the trombonist's encounters with unrecorded jazz legend Buddy Bolden. This detailed record of Ory's life challenges many assumptions about the period. VERDICT A well-researched look at an oft-chronicled period, this book uses solid research to dispense with romantic apocrypha. An essential title for any serious popular music collection.—John Frank, Los Angeles P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781617036262
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 8/24/2012
  • Series: American Made Music Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,011,471
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John McCusker, New Orleans, is a photographer for The Times-Picayune. He was part of the the team that shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism for covering Hurricane Katrina.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Who Was Kid Ory? 3

Chapter 1 1886-1896: Le Monde Creole en Campagne 6

Chapter 2 ca. 1897-1900: Music 24

Chapter 3 1900-1904: Orphan 42

Chapter 4 1905-1907: Walking with the King 52

Chapter 5 1908-1910: Kid 64

Chapter 6 1910-1916: New Orleans 80

Chapter 7 1917-1919: Creole Jazz 112

Chapter 8 1919-1925: California 134

Chapter 9 1925-1933: Chicago Sideman 156

Chapter 10 1933-1973: Epilogue 184

Appendix I Autobiography 189

Appendix II Autobiography 191

Appendix III Selected Discography 193

Appendix IV Lost Compositions 200

Notes 210

Index 240

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