Joe “King” Oliver
(2007 INDUCTEE) IN 1923, JAZZ PIONEER KING OLIVER MADE HIS FIRST RECORDINGS IN RICHMOND FOR THE GENNETT LABEL AS THE LEADER OF KING OVLIVER’S CREOLE JAZZ BAND.
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Joseph “King” Oliver grew up in New Orleans. His importance in jazz history stems from his cornet playing, his role as a bandleader, and his classic jazz compositions. In March 1919, Oliver moved from New Orleans to Chicago for gigs with New Orleans musicians Lawrence Duhe and Bill Johnson. In 1922 Oliver started his “Creole Jazz Band,” which played at Chicago’s Lincoln Gardens. King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band consisted of some of the best pioneering traditional jazz musicians in Chicago, all of whom were originally from New Orleans. The band included Lillian (“Lil”) Hardin-Armstrong on piano, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Warren “Baby” Dodds on drums, Honore Dutrey on trombone, Bill Johnson on bass, and Oliver’s protégé, Louis Armstrong, on second cornet. Oliver’s band made its recording debut in April, 1923, in Richmond’s Gennett studio. The band’s second, and final, recording session for Gennett occurred in Richmond in October of the same year. Oliver’s job at the Lincoln Gardens lasted until December, 1924, after which he formed Dixie Syncopators. When Oliver moved to New York in 1927, his career began a downward slide from which it never recovered. He led a series of bands until 1937. Today, Oliver is remembered not only for his classic Creole Jazz Band recordings, but also for his brilliant cornet playing and his many compositions, including “Dippermouth Blues,” “Canal Street Blues,” “Doctor Jazz,” “Riverside Blues,” “Sweet Like This,” “Too Late,” and “Camp Meeting Blues.”
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