Adolphus DuConge

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Pianist Adolphus DuConge was sometimes credited as Adolphe DuConge -- a good thing to point out since the tendency would be to assume this was two different people, two more branches of a New Orleans…
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Pianist Adolphus DuConge was sometimes credited as Adolphe DuConge -- a good thing to point out since the tendency would be to assume this was two different people, two more branches of a New Orleans family tree rather than just one. There would be no purpose to overcrowd the muggy streets of this city with more DuConges when there are already plenty, beginning with father Oscar DuConge, who led a supposedly brilliant group at the end of the 19th century. Adolphus DuConge had enough brothers to start a family band; the most famous brother was Peter DuConge, who played saxophones, clarinet, and cello and spent more than a decade working from a European base. This put him quite a distance from Adolphus as well as brothers Albert DuConge, a trumpeter, and tenor saxophonist Earl DuConge. Both of these players spent most of their careers in New Orleans, as did Earl's musical offspring, R&B saxophonist Wendell DuConge.

Pianist DuConge spent a great deal of his gigging years aboard riverboats, sometimes in the company of his siblings. He worked in large ensembles including Sidney Desvigne's S.S. Capitol Orchestra in 1931. Many of the same musicians would perform under the direction of other bandleaders such as Fate Marable and Armand J. Piron, with the competing bandleaders trading players back and forth like athletes. Often the goal was simply to keep a group from becoming too complacent. While many of his peers jumped ship to investigate the possibilities of the New York scene or were simply hired away by one of the growing number of touring big bands, this DuConge seems to have stayed loyal to Desvigne's outfit, which also eventually left the riverboats and began gigging at dances in a variety of New Orleans neighborhoods. While this group did create some spontaneous arrangements of the blues, most of the repertoire was either memorized or read completely off charts.