One of the top tuba players of the 1920's, Cyrus St. Clair is best-known for his association with Clarence Williams' many recording groups. St. Clair's father and uncle were also tuba players. Although he began playing cornet locally as a child, he eventually switched to tuba. After moving to New York around 1925, St. Clair had stints with Wilbur DeParis, Bobby Lee's Cotton Pickers and Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten (starting in 1926). St. Clair was on a countless number of records with Clarence Williams during the 1926-37 period where his percussive playing and occasional solos (which were always full of spirit) were a strong asset. He also recorded with Bessie Smith and as part of Williams' group backing other singers. The tuba was very much out of style in jazz by the late 1930's so Cyrus St. Clair (who never led any recording sessions of his own) retired, mostly working outside of music except for a brief period in 1947 when he appeared on Rudi Blesh's This Is Jazz radio series and recorded with Tony Parenti.
Cyrus St. Clair Biography
by Scott Yanow