Personalities | Eagle Band | Early Years | Jazz & Blues

(Instrumental group, 1900–17)

The Eagle Band, originally led by Buddy Bolden, was an extremely popular and influential New Orleans ensemble. Frankie Duson (or Dusen) (1880–1940), a powerful tailgate trombonist, joined the band in 1906 and went on to take over the band when Bolden suffered a mental collapse the following year. Subsequently, Duson employed various Bolden alumni – guitarists Lorenzo Staulz and Brock Mumford, clarinetist Frank Lewis and cornettist Edward Clem. He also chose younger sidemen who became major jazz stalwarts – Bunk Johnson, Joe ‘King’ Oliver, Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds and ‘Big Eye’ Louis Nelson. Drummers Baby Dodds, Henry Zeno and Abbey ‘Chinee’ Foster also played with the band.

Duson was associated with the raggy and bluesy music of Bolden, and in the song ‘Buddy Bolden’s Blues’, retailed by Jelly Roll Morton in the 1930s to celebrate the Bolden legend, Duson’s name was mentioned: ‘I thought I heard Frankie Duson shout,/Gal, give me that money,/Or I’m gonna to beat it out.…’ The Eagle Band itself sported a simple and catchy motto: ‘The Eagles fly high/And never lose a feather./If you miss this dance,/You’ll have the blues forever.’ Unfortunately for jazz history, Duson’s bands never recorded.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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