One of the top string bassists of the 1920s, Wellman Braud was the first of the great Duke Ellington bass players, a tradition that would later include Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford, and even Charles Mingus. Braud grew up playing music in New Orleans, occasionally switching to guitar or drums. By the time he moved to Chicago in 1917, Braud was strictly a bassist. He was with Charlie Elgar (1920-1922) and toured Europe with Will Vodery's Plantation Revue before freelancing to New York. Braud became a key member of Duke Ellington's Orchestra (1927-1935), and his well-recorded bass (his only close competitor on his instrument during the period was Pops Foster) really drove the band during their many records. After leaving Ellington, Braud played with the Spirits of Rhythm (1935-1937) before forming his own trio. He recorded with Jelly Roll Morton (1939-1940) and Sidney Bechet (1940-1941), but opened a poolroom in New York in 1940, and thereafter became a part-time player. Among his later musical experiences were reunions with Duke Ellington (1944 and 1961), and stints with Bunk Johnson (1947) and Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band (1956).
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