Emanuel Sayles

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A longtime fixture in New Orleans, Emanuel Sayles was a valuable supportive player and an occasional soloist for decades. Although he studied violin and viola early on, Sayles was self-taught on banjo…
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A longtime fixture in New Orleans, Emanuel Sayles was a valuable supportive player and an occasional soloist for decades. Although he studied violin and viola early on, Sayles was self-taught on banjo and guitar. After attending high school in Pensacola, Florida, he moved to New Orleans where he played with William Ridgley's Tuxedo Orchestra. Sayles worked with Fate Marable, Armand Piron, and Sidney Desvignes on riverboats and in 1929 recorded with the Jones-Collins Astoria Hot Eight. After moving to Chicago in 1933, he led his own band and worked extensively as a sideman in both jazz and blues settings, recording with Roosevelt Sykes. He moved back to New Orleans in 1949, performing with most of the top local players including George Lewis (who he toured Japan with in 1963-1964) and Sweet Emma Barrett. Sayles worked in Cleveland with Punch Miller in 1960 and spent a few years (1965-1967) in Chicago working as a house musician at Jazz Ltd. After coming back to New Orleans in 1968, he played with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and became a world traveler. Sayles, who recorded with Lewis, Barrett, Punch Miller, Peter Bocage, Kid Thomas Valentine, Earl Hines (1975), and Louis Cottrell, among others, also led his own sessions for GHB (1962), Nobility (1963), Dixie (1969), and the Italian Big Lou label (1969).