Edward “Kid” Ory (1886 - 1973)
Edward Ory was one of the best-known and most highly-regarded trombonists to emerge from New Orleans. Before the Turn of the 20th Century he was asked by the legendary Buddy Bolden to join his orchestra. (Ory’s sister told him “no”)! Later, in New Orleans, Ory gained an enviable reputation as leader of one of the finest bands in the city; using dynamics that could bring the sound down to a whisper, a light, lifting rhythm feel and playing just the right tempos for dancers. His youth and engaging personality resulted in the nickname “Kid,” which still seemed to fit even at the end of his career.
Kid Ory’s sidemen in New Orleans included legends such as King Oliver and Johnny Dodds. From New Orleans he went to California in the early ’20s. His band was the first African-American Jazz band to record (in 1922) and one of the songs they recorded was his own composition “Ory’s Creole Trombone.”
Ory moved to Chicago in the mid-’20s and and played trombone with three of the most revered groups in the history of recorded Jazz: King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators, Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers and Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five! In addition, he wrote two songs that have become Jazz standards: “Muskrat Ramble” and “Savoy Blues.”
He returned to California, but worked in non-musical jobs during the Depression. In 1944 Ory was rediscovered by film star/radio host Orson Welles, and he organized a band of New Orleans veterans to appear on Welles’ Mercury Theater broadcasts. The band was an instant success and Ory made a comeback in a big way. Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band performed at numerous clubs in Southern California and the Bay Area; recorded for Columbia, Decca and Good Time Jazz; played at Carnegie Hall and toured Europe twice. His “Muskrat Ramble” became a popular hit after being recorded by the McGuire Sisters and continues to be played and recorded by Dixieland groups around the World. Ory was able to live comfortably on the royalties from “Muskrat Ramble” and “Savoy Blues” and moved his family to Hawaii in the 1960s. His final public performance was in 1971, at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1971. Kid Ory passed away in Hawaii in 1973.
“On The Levee” was the name of a San Francisco nightclub owned by Kid Ory, where his band performed from 1957 - 1961.