Punch Miller was born Ernest Miller on June 10, 1894 in Raceland, Louisiana and learned to play the trumpet as a child. He was also known as Kid Punch Miller in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was based from 1919 to 1927,
He moved to Chicago, Illinois and worked with various bands, including Jelly Roll Morton and Tiny Parham, as well as appearing on a number of recordings. His lifestyle and the decline of Dixieland or New Orleans jazz led to his return to mostly doing festivals and falling out of the limelight. This changed with the rising importance of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and he returned to national attention.
He returned to New Orleans, playing at Preservation Hall and leading a band under his own name, in addition to playing with other groups. In 1963 he toured Japan with the clarinetist George Lewis.
Trumpeter Punch Miller, who was the subject of the television documentary Til the Butcher Cuts Him Down, passed away on December 2, 1971 in New Orleans.
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Frank Signorelli was born in New York City on May 24, 1901 and was a founding member of the Original Memphis Five at age sixteen in 191. He went on to join the Original Dixieland Jazz Band briefly in 1921. By 1927 he was playing in Adrian Rollini’s New York ensemble, and subsequently worked with Eddie Lang, Bix Beiderbecke, Matty Malneck and Paul Whiteman.
1935 saw him as a part of Dick Stabile’s All-America Swing Band and from 1936 to ‘38 he played in the revived version of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. He recorded with Phil Napoleon in 1946 and with Miff Mole in 1958.
As a songwriter, Signorelli composed I’ll Never Be The Same, initially called Little Buttercup by Joe Venuti’s Blue Four, Gypsy that was recorded by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, Caprice Futuristic, Evening, Anything, Bass Ale Blues, Great White Way Blues, Park Avenue Fantasy, Sioux City Sue, Shufflin’ Mose, Stairway to the Stars and A Blues Serenade which was recorded by Signorelli in 1926, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra in 1935 and Duke Ellington’s version in 1938.
On December 9, 1975, pianist Frank Signorelli, who never led a recording session, passed away in New York City, New York.
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Edmond Hall was born on May 15, 1901 in Reserve, Louisiana, into a musical family. His father, Edward, played the clarinet in the Onward Brass Band, joined by Edmond’s maternal uncles, Jules Duhe on trombone, Lawrence Duhe on clarinet, and Edmond Duhe on guitar. The Hall brothers, Robert, Edmond, and Herbert, all became clarinetists, but Edmond was first taught guitar by his uncle Edmond. When Hall finally picked up the clarinet, he played it within a week.
Tired of working as a farm-hand, by 1919 he left for New Orleans where he signed up with the band of Bud Rousell, then with trombonist Jack Cary and blues cornetist Chris Kelley. His first big break came in late 1920, when he went to a dance at Economy Hall, saw Buddy Petit and discovered his clarinet player had left the band and the following Saturday Hall was sitting in with Petit’s band as a replacement until 1922.
Arriving in Pensacola, Florida in 1923, there was a series of band as he joined Lee Collins, then Mack Thomas, the Pensacola Jazzers, where Hall met the young trumpeter Charles “Cootie” Williams, on to “Eagle Eye” Shields, the Alonzo Ross DeLuxe Syncopators, finally in 1928 with pianist Arthur “Happy” Ford.
1929 saw Edmond moving back to New York he joined Charlie Skeet’s band, followed by Claude Hopkins and an invitation to play the Savoy Ballroom. By 1935 he left Hopkins and took residency in Billy Hicks’ Sizzling Six. Hall’s new sound on the clarinet led him to recording with the big stars and in 1937 he had his first recording session with Billie Holiday, sitting alongside tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Leaving Hicks he stepped into Café Society, joining Joe Sullivan’s band in late 1937. In between the regular job at the Cafe Society he recorded with Bud Freeman, Teddy Wilson, Charlie Christian, Henry “Red” Allen, J.C. Higginbotham, Art Tatum, Big Joe Turner, Hot Lips Page, Zutty Singleton, Meade Lux Lewis, Big Sid Catlett, Josh White, Ida Cox, Coleman Hawkins, Helen Ward, Vic Dickenson, Sidney de Paris, Wild Bill Davison, Eddie Heywood, Roy Eldridge and Jack Teagarden among others.
In 1941 Edmond led his first recording session as a leader, joined Teddy Wilson’s outfit, and made recordings as Edmond Hall’s Blue Note Jazzmen, the Edmond Hall Sextet, the Edmond Hall Celeste Quartet, Edmond Hall’s Star Quintet, Ed Hall and the Big City Jazzmen, and Edmond Hall’s Swingtet. Very popular among the musicians and critics and was frequently invited to the New York Town Hall Concerts led by Eddie Condon.
By 1944 Hall began fronting his own band, becoming a draw for Café Society. More recording dates followed for the famous Commodore Records and Blue Note labels. While business at the Café Society was exceedingly good, Hall appeared at Town Hall Concerts in between. Hall relocated successfully with his band to the Café Society Uptown and would also play for World War II servicemen.
Throughout his career he would perform with pianist George Wein, Louis Armstrong’s All Stars, tour Europe, settle in Los Angeles, California to shoot the film High Society with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby, and appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1952, Hall, Buzzy Drootin and Ralph Sutton appeared as the Ralph Sutton Trio in Saint Louis, where they played the Encore Lounge for several weeks and were the first mixed trio there. He received the Esquire Magazine Silver Award for clarinet, a certificate for nomination as one of the outstanding jazz artists of 1961 from Playboy Magazine and was awarded as the best Clarinetist by the English Melody Maker.
Clarinetist and bandleader Edmond Hall, who also played alto and baritone saxophones and is perhaps best known for the 1941 chamber jazz song Profoundly Blue, which is regarded as a pre-World War II jazz classic, passed away on February 11, 1967 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Floyd O’Brien was born May 7, 1904 in Chicago, Illinois and first played trombone with the Austin High School Gang in the 1920s and later in the decade he played with Earl Fuller, Floyd Town, Charles Pierce, Thelma Terry, and Husk O’Hare. Between 1930-31 he worked in a pit band at a theater in Des Moines, Iowa.
O’Brien moved to New York City and played with Mal Hallett, Joe Venuti, Smith Ballew, Mike Durso, Phil Harris, Gene Krupa and Bob Crosby between 1932 and 1942. Relocating to Los Angeles, California in 1943 he played with Eddie Miller, Bunk Johnson, Shorty Sherock, Jack Teagarden, and Wingy Manone.
By 1948 Floyd was back in Chicago performing with with Bud Freeman, Art Hodes and Danny Alvin. He recorded with Freeman as early as 1928 and other recordings include sessions with Eddie Condon, Fats Waller, Mezz Mezzrow, George Wettling, Charles LaVere, Albert Nicholas and Smokey Stover.
Trombonist Floyd O’Brien, whose lone session as a bandleader yielded two singles for Jump Records in 1945 and were also released under Charles LaVere’s name, passed away on November 26, 1968.
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Lawrence Duhé was born April 30, 1887 in La Place, Louisiana. He played with Kid Ory in his youth, and followed Ory to New Orleans, Louisiana. There he played clarinet with Ory, King Oliver, Frankie Duson, and led his own band in Storyville.
Duhé moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1917 and his band became popular in the clubs and dance halls. They played in the stands at the notorious 1919 World Series. During the Roaring Twenties he led Sugar Johnnie’s New Orleans Creole Orchestra comprised of Lil Hardin, Sidney Bechet, King Oliver, Freddie Keppard, tubby Hall and Mutt Carey among others.
By the mid-1920s he had returned to New Orleans and for a time played with Armand J. Piron. After touring with the Rabbit Foot Minstrel Show, Lawrence worked out of Lafayette and New Iberia in Southwest Louisiana with such musicians as Evan Thomas and Bunk Johnson before retiring from music in the 1940s.
Clarinetist and bandleader Lawrence Duhé, passed away in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1960.
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