Fate Marable

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Pianist and bandleader was an important figure in the spread and interest in early jazz.
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A legendary name in early jazz, Fate Marable led jazz bands on riverboats for decades. He first played in public when he was nine and as early as 1907, Marable was playing piano and calliope aboard a Mississippi steamship. He formed the Kentucky Jazz Band in 1917 and among his many sidemen during the next 20 years were Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Baby Dodds, Pops Foster, Zutty Singleton, Henry "Red" Allen, Gene Sedric, Jimmy Blanton and Earl Bostic. In the 1930s, Marable sometimes co-led bands with Charlie Creath and, although based in St. Louis, he constantly recruited some of the best New Orleans jazzmen for his groups. In 1940, a badly infected finger caused him to retire for a long period. Marable was active again by the mid-'40s, playing piano in St. Louis-area clubs before dying from pneumonia. Unfortunately, the only recordings of Marable's band, Frankie and Johnny and Pianoflage from 1924, are quite poor musically and technically, so the power and beauty of his bands are lost to history.