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Freddie Keppard

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One of the New Orleans cornet "kings" (succeeding Buddy Bolden and preceding King Oliver), Freddie Keppard was one of the few innovators of the 1910 era who had a chance to record later on, giving listeners a glimpse of his abilities. Keppard was active from around 1906, leading the Olympia Orchestra and freelancing in New Orleans. In 1914, he helped bring jazz to Los Angeles with his Original Creole Band. After settling in Chicago in the early '20s, Keppard worked with Doc Cook's Dreamland Orchestra (with whom he recorded on several occasions), Erskine Tate, Ollie Powers, and Charles Elgar. He could have been the first jazz musician to record (back in 1916), but passed on the opportunity because he was afraid that competitors would steal his ideas. Keppard did record between 1923-1927 (his best sides were with his own Jazz Cardinals, particularly "Stock Yard Strut") and those performances feature him using a staccato phrasing influenced by brass bands and displaying a spirited tone. Unfortunately, Keppard was an alcoholic by the mid-'20s and was soon in a decline just when he should have been entering his prime. He died of tuberculosis in 1933 at the age of 43. All of his recordings are available on a single CD put out by the European King Jazz label. ~ Scott Yanow

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