b. Charles A. Elgar, 13 June 1885, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, d. August 1973, Chicago, Illinois, USA. As a child Elgar studied violin and later extended his studies at music colleges in Wisconsin and Illinois. He played in classical music ensembles in his home-town before settling in Chicago around 1913. There, he formed his own small band and then a big band, which was for many years resident at the Dreamland Café. He travelled to Europe as a member of Will Marion Cook’s orchestra and then returned to Chicago for further long residencies as leader at several of the city’s top nightclubs. During all this time he had been active as a teacher and at the beginning of the 30s he turned to that aspect of his career on a full-time basis. Although outside the jazz stream, his bands regularly included in their ranks top-flight early jazzmen including Manuel Perez, Lorenzo Tio, Barney Bigard and Darnell Howard. Elgar’s name lives on through jazz histories rather than through a legacy of records, as he made only four sides despite his popularity and widespread activity in the 20s.
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