Alfred Pratt

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There are not a lot of recordings available by this artist, mostly the sides done with Louis Armstrong and a bit of material with Freddy Johnson. Yet Alfred Pratt's historical legacy is a vivid panorama,…
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Artist Biography by

There are not a lot of recordings available by this artist, mostly the sides done with Louis Armstrong and a bit of material with Freddy Johnson. Yet Alfred Pratt's historical legacy is a vivid panorama, representing a reversal in the normal sense of continental drift in jazz. Musicologists have traced plenty of musical families who moved from South America to New Orleans; Pratt was born in the latter musical mecca but by the late '30s had literally vanished into the gig opportunities -- not the jungles -- of South America. Europe, including hipster "combo au maison" status in Paris, was an intermediary stop on the journey.

Denizens of New Orleans who like to boast of the city's hold on its musicians will point out that Pratt's affiliation with the Big Easy is the big nothing; he moved away as a tyke and was raised in New York City. His music career started in the big towns of the East Coast: Philly, Baltimore, Washington. Pratt had his own band in this period. In 1930 he worked with trumpeter Bubber Miley; the following year with another trumpeter, King Oliver. The last band he worked with stateside was Ralph Cooper's Kongo Knights -- this is a combo name so wretched it would make any bandmember want to skip the country. Pratt was in Europe for less than three years, beginning with an Armstrong tour in 1934. His South American residency officially began in 1936 and the following year Pratt was based in Santiago, Chile. Through the '40s and '50s he shifted his residency through several different countries, hanging longest in cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.