About this Recording
8.120769 - ORY, Kid: Ory's Creole Trombone (1945-1953)

KID ORY Vol. 2
‘Ory’s Creole Trombone’ Original Recordings 1945-1953

Kid Ory was a New Orleans jazz pioneer who was considered the most important trombonist in 1915. As with some of the more fortunate of the early New Orleans legends, he survived into the 1920s, moved up North and appeared on some famous recordings. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Ory had a very busy later career, making a full comeback during 1944-45 and leading one of the most popular New Orleans jazz groups of the next fifteen years.

Edward ‘Kid’ Ory was born 25 December 1886 in La Place, Louisiana. He first started playing music on banjo when he was ten, soon began doubling on valve trombone and eventually settled on the slide trombone. Ory visited nearby New Orleans several times early on, moving to the Crescent City in 1912 when he was already 25. He quickly established himself as one of the city’s top bandleaders, heading a series of groups during the next seven years that featured many of the major players in town including cornetist King Oliver, his successor Louis Armstrong, and clarinettists Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet and Jimmie Noone. During this period Ory’s ‘tailgate’ style of trombone was considered definitive. He used his horn to play rhythmic bass lines and harmonies behind the trumpet and clarinet, defining how the trombone would be used in traditional New Orleans and dixieland ensembles from then on.

In 1919 Ory moved to California, taking some top New Orleans players with him and helping to introduce freewheeling jazz to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland. With Mutt Carey on cornet, Ory recorded two numbers in 1922 as the leader of a band called Spike’s Seven Pods Of Pepper Orchestra; these are considered the earliest recordings by a black New Orleans jazz band. In 1925 he relocated to Chicago and during the remainder of the decade appeared on an impressive assortment of classic recordings in such bands as Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators, Johnny Dodds and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. Even after the rise of more modern trombonists, most notably Miff Mole and Jack Teagarden, Ory’s was considered the definitive New Orleans style.

With the rise of the Depression and the collapse of the recording industry, job opportunities began to become scarce after 1930. Ory moved back to Los Angeles, freelanced for a bit and then in 1933 dropped out of music altogether to help his brother run a chicken farm. He hardly played music at all for a decade and, since he turned 55 in 1942, it would not have been surprising if he’d never returned to the music scene.

However things turned out much different. New Orleans jazz made a comeback in the 1940s and there was an audience who wanted to hear the older surviving jazz pioneers. One of the fans of the music was actor-director Orson Welles who was hosting a radio show during the era and wanted to feature an authentic sounding New Orleans band during a five-minute slot in each program. Kid Ory’s name was suggested and since he had regained his former form during a stint with clarinettist Barney Bigard’s group, Ory was enlisted to put together a band. As it turned out, the radio show was the perfect launching band for Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band for their weekly feature was considered the highlight of the show. Soon Ory was playing regularly in Los Angeles clubs and appearing on records again.

‘Ory’s Creole Trombone’ has twenty of Kid Ory’s finest recordings of the 1945-53 period. This is very easy music to enjoy, filled with colorful ensembles and personable solos. It could be called dixieland, New Orleans jazz or just plain happy high quality music.

The first ten selections have Mutt Carey, who like Ory had come out of retirement, joining his old boss in the front line. With former Jelly Roll Morton clarinettist Darnell Howard aboard for the first seven numbers, the well-integrated band swings hard on Maryland, My Maryland, Wilbur Sweatman’s Down Home Rag and 1919 Rag (a song that they successfully revived) on the 8 September 1945 session. The music probably sounds similar to the jazz played in New Orleans when Ory left in 1919 except that there is more space for solos. It is certainly light years away from the big swing bands or the new bebop music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie that was emerging that same year.

The 3 November 1945 date has the same personnel performing four dixieland standards. Original Dixieland One-Step was from the repertoire of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and Ory’s Creole Trombone was one of the two numbers recorded by Ory in 1922 and was also previously recorded by the trombonist with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. Maple Leaf Rag was the greatest hit of the ragtime era (and nearly the only rag to become a standard) and Weary Blues had been immortalized by Louis Armstrong’s Hot Seven, a band that Ory missed playing with.

The same edition of the Creole Jazz Band in 1946 with Barney Bigard succeeding Howard performs some unusual material. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho has a very familiar melody though it has rarely been played in a jazz setting; Helen Andrews and banjoist Bud Scott have the vocals. Blues singer Trixie Smith’s The World’s Jazz Crazy, Lawdy So Am I will sound familiar to dixieland fans for it is the same song as “Ballin’ The Jack.” Creole Bo Bo is a childlike tune written by Kid Ory and his wife Cecile that has a resemblance to “Mary Had A Little Lamb” but with some extensions and a vocal by Ory in French.

Although the Kid Ory group only had one record date during 1947-49, its popularity actually grew during this period and the Creole Jazz Band was now thought of as one of the top representatives of vintage New Orleans jazz.

With the exception of the leader and drummer Minor Hall, the sextet’s personnel had changed completely by 1950 but the band’s style stayed consistent. The biggest change was that the relatively primitive cornetist Mutt Carey had been succeeded by the powerful Louis Armstrong-inspired trumpeter Teddy Buckner. Joe Darensbourg was in Bigard and Howard’s place (filling a similar role) and Ory always played in his own unique style. The band, driven by Buckner, performs joyous versions of At A Georgia Camp Meeting and Mahogany Hall Stomp, and even tears into the pop song The Glory Of Love which has a highly expressive vocal by Lee Sapphire. Later in the year, the contrast and blend between Buckner and Ory (who really sings through his horn) during the first chorus of Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night before another winning Lee Sapphire vocal is memorable while Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula has some percussive slap tongue clarinet by Darensbourg.

The final five selections feature the 1953 version of Ory’s band, with Buckner and clarinettist Bob McCracken being strong assets. The biggest addition was the great stride pianist Don Ewell, who added a powerful lift to the rhythm section and was arguably the band’s finest soloist. These standards are all given the Kid Ory treatment and even though South Rampart Street Parade, St. James Infirmary, Aunt Hagar’s Blues, Duke Ellington’s Creole Love Call and Milenburg Joys were recorded many times through the years, the Ory band made them sound lively, fresh and just a little unpredictable.

Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band continued making enjoyable records into 1961 and the trombonist did not officially retire until he moved to Hawaii in 1966. He passed away on 23 January 1973 at the age of 86, one of the most beloved of the New Orleans jazz pioneers and one whose music still sounds very much alive today.

Scott Yanow – author of nine jazz books including Jazz On Film, Swing, Classic Jazz (on the 1920s), Trumpet Kings and Jazz On Record 1917-76

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