Sugar Johnnie's New Orleans Creole Orchestra

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Sugar Johnnie's New Orleans Creole Orchestra was one of the bands that went into the making of an ensemble known as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Before being absorbed by Oliver's band, Sugar Johnnie's…
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Sugar Johnnie's New Orleans Creole Orchestra was one of the bands that went into the making of an ensemble known as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Before being absorbed by Oliver's band, Sugar Johnnie's played Chicago's De Luxe Café under the leadership of clarinetist Lawrence Duhe. The group featured a number of first-rate soloists, among them innovative cornetist Freddie Keppard, cornetist Mutt Carey, and saxophone and clarinet player Sidney Bechet.

In 1917, a teenaged Lil Hardin joined Sugar Johnnie's New Orleans Creole Orchestra as its piano player. By the following year, the tubercular Sugar Johnnie Smith, a New Orleans cornetist, contracted pneumonia and passed away. The band's loss led to Carey's joining the band, but he soon jumped ship to become part of Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra on the West Coast. Duhe filled his shoes in 1919 by hiring King Oliver. Oliver also played with a Creole orchestra led by Bill Johnson. He eventually became leader of Sugar Johnnie band and combined it with Johnson's, billing the new blended group as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. In 1921, he took the band on a tour of California. In Chicago, the band had gigs at the Pekin Café and the Dreamland Café. Among the musicians who played in Sugar Johnnie's New Orleans Creole Orchestra were trombonist Roy Palmer, bass players Wellman Braud and Ed Garland, violinist Jimmie Palao, piccolo player Bab Frank, and drummers Tubby Hall and Minor Hall.