Johnny St. Cyr was born on April 17, 1890 in New Orleans, Louisiana. St. He led several bands in the Crescent City beginning around 1905 and performed on the riverboats with Fate Marable. He played for several leading New Orleans bands including A.J. Piron, the Superior, Olympia and Tuxedo bands before moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1923 with King Oliver.
He is most commonly remembered as a member of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven bands. He also played and recorded with Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. St. Cyr also performed with Don Cook’s Dreamland Orchestra. He composed the popular standard Oriental Strut, noted for its adventurous chord sequence.
In 1930 Johnny returned to New Orleans to make a living as a plasterer while still playing with local bands led by Paul Barbarin or Alphonse Picou. In 1955 he moved to Los Angeles, California and returned to music full time. From 1961 until his death in 1966, he was the bandleader of the Young Men from New Orleans that featured Barney Bigard, performers at Disneyland.
Banjoist and guitarist Johnny St. Cyr passed away on June 17, 1966 in Los Angeles, California.
Theodore “Wingie” Carpenter was born on April 15, 1898 in St. Louis, Missouri. He lost his left arm as the result of an accident during his early teens, with the amputation performed by a noted surgeon who was an uncle of jazz musician Doc Cheatham. Sometime later, he took up the trumpet and by 1920 he was working in traveling carnival shows, and in 1921 he toured with Herbert’s Minstrel Band.
By 1926 he had settled in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked with Wes Helvey, Clarence Paige, Zack Whyte, and Speed Webb. In 1927, Wingie played in Buffalo, New York, with Eugene Primus. Off and on from late 1926 through 1928, he was featured on the Whitman Sisters’ Show with pianist Troy Snapp’s band.
During the early 1930s the trumpeter was featured with Smiling Boy Steward’s Celery City Serenaders and another Florida band led by Bill Lacey. In the mid-1930s, he became a touring regular with bandleaders including Jack Ellis, Dick Bunch, and Jesse Stone. By the late 1930s, Carpenter settled in New York City, where he worked with Skeets Tolbert and Fitz Weston.
From 1939 on, Wingie worked as the leader of his own band through the 1960s, playing occasional dance dates and working for periods at well-known clubs such as The Black Cat, The New Capitol, Tony Pastor’s The Yeah Man, and other venues. He composed several works not limited to Look Out Papa Don’t You Bend Down, Preachin’ Trumpet Blues, Put Me Back In The Alley, Rhythm of The Dishes and Pans, and Team Up.
Trumpeter, vocalist and bandleader Wingie Carpenter, who was one of several one-armed trumpeters who worked in the music business, including similarly nicknamed Wingy Manone, passed away on July 21, 1975 in New York City.
George “Little Mitch” Mitchell was born March 8, 1899 in Louisville, Kentucky and took up the cornet at the age of 12, joining a local brass band in Louisville. From 1921-3 he recorded with Johnny Dunn’s Original Jazz Hounds and Johnny Dunn’s Original Jazz Band on the Columbia label.
In 1926 Little Mitch recorded with the New Orleans Wanderers and New Orleans Bootblacks, taking the place of the unavailable Louis Armstrong. Shortly afterwards he recorded with Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. He also went to record with Luis Russell, Johnny Dodds and The Earl Hines Orchestra.
Cornetist George Mitchell ended his active but short career on the 1920s jazz scene around 1931, never leading a recording session, opting to become a bank messenger. He passed away on May 22, 1972 in Chicago, Illinois.
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Edward Bertram Garland was born January 9, 1895 in New Orleans, Louisiana. By 1910 he was playing bass drum with brass bands including Frankie Duson’s Eagle Band. He then took up tuba and string bass, doubling on the two instruments which filled similar roles in different types of bands.
He played with the Excelsior Brass Band, Manuel Perez’s Imperial Orchestra and then joined other early New Orleans bands playing in Chicago, Illinois and California, such as Lawrence Duhé and Freddie Keppard. In 1916 Garland joined King Oliver and went to California and during the Depression he led his own One-Eleven Jazz Band.
1944 saw Ed gaining notoriety as a member of a traditional New Orleans band that was a leader of the West Coast revival, put together for the CBS Radio series The Orson Welles Almanac. The all-star band also included Mutt Carey, Jimmie Noone (succeeded by Barney Bigard), Kid Ory, Bud Scott, Zutty Singleton and Buster Wilson. Renamed Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band, the group then made a significant series of recordings on the Crescent Records label.
Garland appeared in the 1959 film Imitation of Life, performing with Andrew Blakeney, Teddy Buckner, George Orendorf and Joe Darensbourg in the funeral sequence Trouble of the World featuring Mahalia Jackson.
String bassist Ed Garland, sometimes known as Montudie Garland, a nickname he much disliked, passed away in London, England on January 22, 1980.
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Oscar “Papa” Celestin was born on January 1, 1884 in Napoleonville, Louisiana to a Creole family. As a youth he worked on rural Louisiana plantations but eager for a better life, he worked as a cook for the Texas & Pacific Railroad, saved up money and bought used musical instruments. He played guitar and trombone before deciding on cornet as his main instrument. He took music lessons from Claiborne Williams, who traveled down the Bayou Lafourche from Donaldsonville.
Celestin played with the Algiers Brass Band by the early 1900s, and with various small town bands before moving to New Orleans in 1904, at age 20. There he played with the Imperial, Indiana, Henry Allen senior’s Olympia Brass Band, and Jack Carey’s dance band. Early in his career he was sometimes known as Sonny Celestin. Around 1910 he landed a job as leader of the house band at the Tuxedo Dance Hall on North Franklin St. at the edge of Storyville.
Keeping the name Tuxedo as the band’s name after the Dance Hall closed, they dressed in tuxedos and became one of the most popular bands hired for society functions, both black and white. He co-led the Tuxedo Band with trombonist William Ridgely and made their first recordings during the Okeh Records field trip to New Orleans in 1925. Following a fallout with Ridgely, the two led competing Tuxedo bands for about five years. Celestin’s Original Tuxedo Orchestra had Louis Armstrong, Bill Mathews, Octave Crosby, Christopher Goldston, Joe Oliver, Mutt Carey, Alphonse Picou and Ricard Alexis as a members over the years and made an additional series of recordings for Columbia Records through the 1920s. He also led the Tuxedo Brass Band, one of the top brass bands in the city.
Forced out of the business by depression economics, Papa worked in a shipyard until putting together another band after the World War II. The new Tuxedo Brass Band was tremendously popular and became a New Orleans tourist attraction. By 1953 he appeared in the travelogue Cinerama Holiday, became a regular feature at the Paddock Lounge on Bourbon Street and gave a command performance for President Eisenhower at the White House. He made regular radio broadcasts, television appearance, and more recordings with his last recording was singing on Marie LaVeau in 1954.
Bandleader, trumpeter, cornetist and vocalist Papa Celestin passed away in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 15, 1954, amassing 4000 people who marched in his funeral parade. The Jazz Foundation of New Orleans had a bust made and donated to the Delgado Museum in New Orleans, in honor of his contributions to the genre. #preserving genius