Clarence Gabriel

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What surnames such as Brunis, French, Henry and Gabriel all have in common in New Orleans musical history is that these were dynasties which created a broad impact following the philosophy that the family…
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What surnames such as Brunis, French, Henry and Gabriel all have in common in New Orleans musical history is that these were dynasties which created a broad impact following the philosophy that the family that plays together stays together. Clarence Gabriel became a valuable rhythm section player, adept at both piano and banjo, in several different ensembles fronted by their father, Martin Gabriel, Sr.. One of these groups was the famous National Orchestra of New Orleans, in action for nearly 20 years between 1913 and 1932. Well-known players from this scene such as the cornetist Freddie Keppard and banjoist Johnny St.Cyr worked regularly in this orchestra, as did a gaggle of Gabriel kids and their uncle, clarinetist Albert "Dude" Gabriel.

The orchestra ceased functioning following the death of father Gabriel in 1932. At this point, brother Percy Gabriel, who played both bass and tenor sax but eventually stuck to the former, along with Clarence Gabriel began their own trio. The enterprising Percy Gabriel would soon leave the group to work with Kid Rena and follow an exploratory musical path that led to Chicago, New York, the West Coast, and eventually Detroit. Another brother, Martin Gabriel, Jr. went to Detroit in the '50s to get in on the new Gabriel presence in that city. Daniel Gabriel stayed in New Orleans, his playing activities becoming increasingly low-key as he got older. He has provided valuable oral history information for the Tulane Jazz Archives. Other members of the musical Gabriel clan include a piano playing sister, Alberta Gabriel and drummer Manny Gabriel.