Peter Bocage

Peter Bocage, the jazz man, is a giant in New Orleans’ history of traditional jazz. Bocage was born in Algiers across the Mississippi River, New Orleans. He followed his father’s footsteps and played music at dances, rent parties and street parades in the Crescent City. As the late, great Danny Barker said, he quickly became a fixture in Storyville’s famous club. Here, “people paid to have fun, any kind of time they wanted.” Ragtime was the music of choice. At the age 21 Bocage was the leader of the Superior Orchestra, a ragtime band that became very popular. Bocage was still playing the violin at that time. Bunk Johnson, a horn player, was hired by Bocage. Bocage wanted a soft, refined sound that reflected the Creole culture he was from. Although Buddy Bolden’s more popular sound won out, people eventually came to appreciate the soft tones Bocage played years later in New Orleans’ Preservation Hall. Bocage took up the trumpet in the mid-’10s and became a master of the instrument. There were many brass bands in New Orleans that he played in, including the Onward, Tuxedo and Excelsior Brass Bands. The latter he led for ten year. He was a musical colleague of Henry Allen, Joe “King”, and Louis Armstrong. Bocage, Fate Marabel and others formed the South’s first ever integrated band. He was a movers and shaker. He once left New Orleans to play at the Cotton Club in New York and in Boston with Sidney Bechet. He recorded with Piron’s New Orleans Orchestra as well as his Creole Serenaders. From the 1930s to just before Bocage’s death, this band was in many different forms. A CD of this song was released in 1961 as part the New Orleans Living Legends Series. This CD featured Peter Bocage and the Creole Serenaders.

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