Kid Ory 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.
In 1925 Edward “Kid” Ory moved to Chicago, where he made records with King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Jelly Roll Morton that captured the spirit of the jazz age. His most famous composition from that period, “Muskrat Ramble,” is a jazz standard. Retired from music during the Depression, he returned in the 1940s and enjoyed a reignited career.
With Creole Trombone, author John McCusker tells the story of a jazz musician arriving on the scene in New Orleans at the same time as the music itself. The man and the music came up together, reached maturity together and, ultimately, faded from the scene together.
The tale covers the years between 1900 and 1933 and that period is the book’s main focus. Kid Ory’s remembrances carry the story only to this point, and it would have been difficult to fill the remaining years without his voice. While the tale of his career revival in the forties is interesting, it is far less so than the earlier period and less relevant to the historical question:
“Who was Kid Ory?”