Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and and the Early Years of Jazz

Over at My Spilt Milk, Alex Rawls has a great post on Creole Trombone, the new Kid Ory biography by John McCusker.

Edward "Kid" Ory (1886-1973) was a trombonist, composer, recording artist, and early New Orleans jazz band leader. Creole Trombone tells his story from birth on a rural sugar cane plantation in a French-speaking, ethnically mixed family, to his emergence in New Orleans as the city's hottest band leader.

The Ory band featured such future jazz stars as Louis Armstrong and King Oliver and was widely considered New Orleans's top "hot" band. Ory's career took him from New Orleans to California, where he and his band created the first African American New Orleans jazz recordings ever made. In 1925 he moved to Chicago, where he made records with Oliver, Armstrong, and Jelly Roll Morton that captured the spirit of the jazz age.

Rawls delves into how McCusker became interested in New Orleans jazz, his research methods, and even how writing the book has him seeing New Orleans in a different way.

“When I drive around New Orleans now, I don’t just see the New Orleans that’s there now,” he says. “I picture what was there then, and I really tried to give a sense of the geography as much as I could when writing it, about how different the city was then.”

Drawing on oral history and Ory's unpublished autobiography, Creole Trombone is a story that is told in large measure by Ory himself. The author reveals Ory's personality to the reader and shares remarkable stories of incredible innovations of the jazz pioneer. The book also features unpublished Ory compositions, photographs (two featured below), and a selected discography of his most significant recordings. 

Be sure to scroll to the bottom for video of McCusker speaking at Octavia Books during his launch last week in New Orleans.

Kid Ory in New Orleans, c. 1917

Barbara GaNung and Kid Ory in Los Angeles