How many jazzmen has New Orleans produced? The answer to this question depends on the point of view. Some will say, not without justification, that almost every family in the city could boast one or more between, say, 1900 and 1925. But if we count those who have worked professionally to an appreciable extent, playing jazz at least part of the time, we find evidence for about a thousand — still a formidable number to work with. It has given the authors great satisfaction to be able to produce more than two hundred, generally unpublished, photographs with which to illustrate this list. Unfortunately, some of the greatest of the jazzmen never have been photographed. Others may have been, but our extensive efforts failed to uncover their pictures. Many musicians not shown individually in this section appear in photos of groups with whom they played (these are listed in the biographical notes), or in one or more of the informal shots to be fournd elsewhere in this volume.
Special attention of researchers is called to the fact that the details given here, especially the spellings of names, have been carefully checked and are, to the best of our knowledge, correct, though possibly unfamiliar. Such names as Roppolo, Duson, Costaut, and Staulz have been so regularly misspelled in print that we welcome this opportunity to accord their owners the dignity of accurate orthography.
Photo: King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band
made up of the cream of New Oneans Jazz musicians, e.g.: Warren "Baby" Dodds, Honore Dutrey, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Joseph "King" Oliver
It should be noted that the amount of space allocated to each of the individuals represented is not related to any estimate by the authors of the relative irrrportance to these people, but rather reﬂects requirements of book design and the photographic quality of the available pictures. Regrettably, it is a foregone conclusion that will be guilty of omissions, because it seems that half the city has been involved in music. It is, however, no accident that the men of the apparently countless conventional dance bands of the city, many of superb quality, are not included. Such exceptional groups as the ones led by Al Streimann, Herb Leary, Leon Kellner, and Sidney Cates, and including the popular “Royal Dukes,” should certainly be treated in a history of popular music in New Orleans, but not in a jazz book.
It will be noted that many musicians are merely listed, with perhaps little more information than their instruments and perhaps place of birth. To understand the reason for this, it is necessary to know first, that there has always been a large pool of “job musicians“ in New Orleans who never had any particular identiﬁcation for a signiﬁcant period with any group. These men got together — and still do — in inﬁnite assortment for whatever occasion might arise. Among them are many of the ﬁnest Crescent City jazzmen.
Photo: Buddie Petit’s New Orleans Jazz Band
Birth and death dates have been supplied whenever possible. It has been necessary to take into account the fact that many musicians simply don't know when they were born — perhaps not even the year. Others have given a variety of different dates in published interviews. Some merely left town without a trace and we have not been able to find out what happened to them. In some cases they may be presumed dead, but not too hastily. A spry Bill Johnson was least heard from San Antonio at 92. Tom Albert has passed 90 in good health. At 83. bassist Eddie Dawson not only survives, but remains one of the finest active musicians town. As much as possible, the authors have avoided editorial commend or any attempt to evaluate the musicians, except to take note of existing universal opinion on such apparently non-controversial titans as Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, Leon Ropollo, Lany Shields, and a few others. (sources: Al Rose and Edmund Souchon)