John McCusker



John McCusker lives in New Orleans and is a photographer for The Times-Picayune. He was part of the team that shared a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for journalism for covering Hurricane Katrina.


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Creole Trumbone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz

The definitive biography of the great band leader and New Orleans jazz performer

Edward “Kid” Ory (1886 – 1973) was a trombonist, composer, recording artist and early New Orleans jazz band leader. Creole Trombone tells his story from birth on a rural sugar cane plantation in a French-speaking, ethnically mixed family to his emergence in New Orleans as the city’s hottest band leader. The Ory band featured future jazz stars such as Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, and was widely considered New Orleans’s top “hot” band. Ory’s career took him from New Orleans to California, where he and his band created the first African-American New Orleans jazz recordings ever made. In 1925 he moved to Chicago, where he made records with Oliver, Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton that captured the spirit of the jazz age. His most famous composition from that period, Muskrat Ramble, is a jazz standard. Ory retired from music during the Depression but returned in the 1940s, enjoying a reignited career.

Drawing on oral history and Ory’s unpublished autobiography, Creole Trombone is a story that is largely told by Ory himself. The author reveals Ory’s personality to the reader and shares remarkable stories of incredible innovations of the jazz pioneer. The book also features unpublished Ory compositions, photographs and a selected discography of his most significant recordings.


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