Dixieland Trombonists

"Papa" Jack Laine
"Papa" Jack Laine, seated

“Jass” music from 1890-1920 and included the first trombonists to perform in the ragtime-style tradition. The term “jass” had not been used at this point to describe the music, and the earliest groups to play in this style were the dance bands or ensembles often referred to as orchestras. One key figure in this period was Jack “Papa” Laine (1873-1966); Laine is referred to as the earliest Dixieland bandleader, and he led seven different bands all called Reliance.1 Many of the early trombonists had their start with Papa Laine’s groups.

The brass bands or dance bands of late nineteenth-century New Orleans were the teething ground of many early “jass” trombonists. While many of the best early players started with Papa Laine, he did not have a monopoly on trombonists; bands such as the Onward Brass Band (1889-1930) and the Excelsior Brass Band (1880-1928) also contained many of the more noted trombonists. Information on these early trombonists is very difficult to locate and often consists of little more than birth and death records, ensembles they performed with, and more rarely, anecdotes told by other New Orleans musicians, many years after the fact. The following is a list of some of these early trombonists; the amount of information on these individuals is too short to include here, but a brief biography of each can be found in the index.

  1. Al Rose and Edmond Souchon, New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984), 71.