Joseph Petit

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This artist played both slide and valve trombone in a series of historic early jazz orchestras active in New Orleans at the outset of the 20th century. Joseph Petit had a strong influence on the cornet…
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This artist played both slide and valve trombone in a series of historic early jazz orchestras active in New Orleans at the outset of the 20th century. Joseph Petit had a strong influence on the cornet player known as Buddy Petit -- and this was not just a matter of stylistic traits. When the trombonist became the stepfather of the younger cornetist, the latter musician was still known as Joseph Crawford. He then decided to shift to his stepfather's surname, combined with the friendly if over-used nickname of Buddy.

Joseph Petit was largely known as a reliable sideman in outfits such as the Olympia Orchestra, active from 1900 through 1914, and the Terminal Brass Band, beginning around the same time but lasting only about half as long. He did lead his own band at least once, however, short-lived perhaps because it was way ahead of its time. Not much is known about the group called the Security Orchestra other than that Petit was the organizer and leader; security must have been pretty tight indeed. This group did gigs between 1900 and 1910 but might have done a whole lot better a century later, when concepts such as "security moms" became buzzwords in the media.

The trombonist worked alongside a wide variety of New Orleans jazz players during his career, famous names including Sidney Bechet and King Oliver, as well as a host of obscure but intriguing characters: a bass horn player known simply as Sheik-O, the stiff trumpeter Wooden Joe Jicholas, the fortunate sousaphone player Buddy Luck, wide-eyed Arthur Ogle on snare drum, and fragile bass drummer Booker T. Glass.