Kid Ory Biography

Edward Ory, 25 December 1886, La Place, Louisiana, USA, d. 23 January 1973, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. A gifted, hard-blowing trombonist and a competitive musician, Ory came to New Orleans when in his mid-twenties and he quickly established a fearsome reputation. An aggressive music maker and a tireless self-promoter, he was determined to be successful and very quickly was. By 1919 he was one of the city’s most popular musicians and dance bands but he left town on medical advice. Taking up residence in California, he became just as popular in Los Angeles and San Francisco as he had been in New Orleans.

In 1922 Ory became the first black New Orleans musician to make records and the success of these extended his fame still further. In 1925 he travelled to Chicago, playing and recording with King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, with whom he made many classic Hot Five and Hot Seven sides. In 1930 he was back in Los Angeles, joining Mutt Carey, who had taken over leadership of the Ory band. By 1933, however, Ory had tired of the business and the lack of success he was enjoying compared to that of his earlier days and quit music. He returned in the early 40s, sometimes playing alto saxophone or bass. Encouraged by some prestigious radio dates, he was soon band leading again and playing trombone and was thus well placed to take advantage of the boom in popularity of traditional jazz that swept the USA. Throughout the 50s and into the early 60s he played successfully in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where he had his own club, touring nationally and overseas. He retired to Hawaii in 1966.

A strong soloist and powerful ensemble player, Ory’s work, while redolent of New Orleans-style jazz, demonstrated that his was a much richer and more sophisticated ability than that of many early trombonists. His compositions included ‘Ory’s Creole Trombone’ and ‘Muskrat Ramble’, which became a jazz standard.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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