The Kid Ory article in December’s issue features major factual errors. The caption to the main photo with the piece is identified as “Louis Armstrong’s band,” featuring Kid Ory on trombone. It is in fact a picture of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band with Honore Dutry on trombone.
The story also incorrectly names Kid Ory as the trombonist on Armstrong’s Hot 7 recordings—he wasn’t. It says he left New Orleans because Storyville closed. The district closed in 1917 and Ory left in 1919.
The story says that Ory’s recordings in California in 1922 were the first by a black jazz band—they weren’t. It was the first black jazz band FROM New Orleans that recorded. Also stated was that Ory read music while based in New Orleans. Ory made it clear in numerous interviews that he never got a formal lesson in sight reading ’till he moved to California in 1919.
The story also asserts that Ory left Chicago for California to raise chickens with his brother. Ory returned to California in 1929. His brother didn’t move there from Louisiana until 1938.
Also stated is that Jelly Roll Morton “flourished” in the thirties. Anyone who has read any of the many books on Morton will know that the thirties marked the lowest point in his career.
—John McCusker, New Orleans, LA
Hank Cherry responds: “Regarding the chicken farm, I relied on a piece written by Dr. David Wilken, Music professor at Western Carolina University. He wrote that Ory “moved back to California to take care of his brother’s chicken farm.”
Regarding Ory’s ability to sight read music, I cross referenced material that I’d come across in an interview with Louis Armstrong, with that of Samuel B. Charters’ history of early New Orleans jazz, Jazz New Orleans 1885-1963. Charters writes, “They (Kid Ory’s neighborhood band) played for local dances for two to three years…They all studied a little music—Ory learned to read—but in New Orleans personality meant at least as much as musical ability.”
While Ory had not recorded with the Hot 7, I found information in my research that stated he was considered a member.
The photo in question came from the Historical New Orleans Collection, where we discovered that it had been misidentified. Mr. McCusker is correct that Jelly Roll Morton’s career did begin to ebb in the ’30s.”
I’d first met Walter Payton when he’d been on tour with The New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, in summer of ’72. The NORO were performing an open-air, lunch time concert in the main square in Bohn, Germany. I remember speaking with Walter there in Bohn and later, we’d often recall that time. When I arrived in New Orleans to live in the summer of 1982, the first “gigging” that I did was in joining Walter and Leroy [Jones] in Jackson Square, where they often met to jam as a duo for the tourist tips.
They tolerated my presence with patience and kindness as I learnt my first “real” lessons of the city’s music. I will always remember and treasure the memory of Walter’s kindness to a stranger. He always had a smile for me and my mother Margaret when she visited New Orleans.
—Barry Wratten, Melbourne, Australia
I made my first visit to New Orleans in November 2009, and spent two wonderful days. While there, I picked up my first copy of OffBeat and made a vow to return to the city.
I recently returned to New Orleans and spent three glorious weeks. Your city is a national treasure. I am repeating the sentiments of so many who write to OffBeat, when I say that the music I heard in the clubs and in the streets was outstanding.
In your “letters to the editor” column, I have read the opinions of residents and visitors who have offered a broad range of ideas for fostering the music scene and community in New Orleans. Often the opinions expressed are in conflict with each other. I have come to appreciate that there are complex issue involved in promoting and protecting a vital and quality music scene. In spite of the conflicting opinions, I am heartened by the fact that so many are invested in nurturing music in your city.
I believe that the magic one feels when inhabiting this city is due to the accessibility and quality of the music performed. I am so appreciative of New Orleans food, art and architecture, but to me the magic would not exist without your music.
—Valerie Capitanich, Stockton, CA
I have said it all before, you [New Orleans] have a fantastic music pedigree going back in time but somehow you just can’t handle it and be proud of it or possibly you shrug your shoulders and take it for granted. You have really nowhere to go to celebrate all the fantastic music and musicians in New Orleans. This even applies to blues music in general in the States. No one really seems to care about the history surrounding this fantastic form of music.
—Paul Thorne, Gothenburg, Sweden
[Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk] is the best funk band in America. They are the ultimate and the coolest mfs in da game.
—Adam Deitch, New York, NY
Regarding Aaron Lafont’s article “School’s Out for These UNO-Educated Jazz Musicians”: Expecting an article that focused on the University of New Orleans’ Jazz Program and how it has affected its students, I was initially confused as to why the article starts out with a quote by a young jazz musician who didn’t attend UNO. Then, I realized that the article was barely even about UNO. It is touched on in two sentences, and one of these sentences does an injustice to any reader who might be interested in the UNO Jazz Department: “All but Royal continued their education in UNO’s Jazz Studies program, taking their cues from professors including Irvin Mayfield and Roland Guerin.” Although Irvin Mayfield and Roland Guerin do teach private lessons on their respective instruments at UNO, it is a stretch to suggest that these men represent the UNO educational experience, or that they had a profound in-the-classroom effect on the young jazz musicians mentioned in this article. It is widely known that if you are currently enrolled at UNO, you will most likely take classes with Steve Masakowski, Ed Petersen, Brian Seeger, Victor Atkins, Brent Rose, or Hank Mackie. These guys care too much about their students’ educations not to be mentioned in an article that is ostensibly about the program they work so hard to promote and enrich. I don’t mean any disrespect to the adjunct faculty members mentioned in the article, I just think you should do more research if you’re going to write about what a UNO jazz education actually means for a young musician.
Either that, or just think of better titles, please. Maybe “Young Jazz Musicians: Making the Scene,” or maybe a title that references the Breakfast Club-esque picture that accompanies the article? Think about it.
—Adam Bellard, New Orleans, LA
The actual headline is “School’s Out,” and the subhead is “What comes next for the UNO-educated jazz musician?” Those suggest rather clearly the story’s about life after UNO; if we were going to write a piece about the UNO Jazz Studies program, it would be a very different story.—ED.