Obituary: Pud Brown

Whether or not he was a New Orleans clarinet player born and bred, Pud Brown certainly played like one. He claimed to have been born in Shreveport, Louisiana, but some reference books say he was a son of Sacramento in California, whilst others put his birthplace as Wilmington, Delaware. No matter, last week he was given his final send-off as one of the Crescent City's finest in a street parade through the lower French Quarter. The music, first funereal and then exultant, was played by the Algiers Brass Band and by the Spirit of New Orleans Brass Band.

Brown possessed that limpid and full tone that made the clarinet playing of Jimmy Noone and Irving Fazola, both classical New Orleans-born clarinettists, so distinctive and attractive. He began playing music when he was five and - after playing a charity benefit two weeks ago to raise money for musical instruments for public school students in the Algiers area of New Orleans, where he lived - worked his last job at the New Orleans cafe where his band was resident on the evening before he died.

His first job, in 1927, was as a member of a family band led by his father. Pud was billed as "The World's Youngest Saxophone Player". Already a multi-instrumentalist, he was working in theatre-pit bands in the early Thirties before settling in Chicago. He became part of that city's robust musical scene and over the years worked there with, amongst others, Jimmy Dorsey, Bud Freeman and cornetist Pete Daily. He made records with Daily before moving to Shreveport in 1945. It was later, with the polished jazz of Los Angeles and the West Coast, where he settled in 1949, that he made his name, first as a member of Jack Teagarden's band from 1951 to 1952 and subsequently in the band that Kid Ory led in 1953.

The trombonist Ory had been one of the main jazz influences to come out of New Orleans in the earliest days of the century, and Brown was happy to settle into the traditional style with him. After Ory he worked with a variety of traditionalist jazz groups in Los Angeles, recording with another New Orleans veteran, the trumpeter Lee Collins, and playing in a band with Collins and the pianist Ralph Sutton which broadcast regularly from the Hangover Club in San Francisco, where it was resident.

During the Sixties Brown added trumpet and cornet to his instruments and also played double bass for a time. In his later years he played all the different saxophones, but mostly tenor, and even concocted new instruments from bits and pieces of instruments which he had collected.

His talents in constructing instruments were all part of his useful skills as a mechanic. He drew teeth as an amateur dentist and was invariably able to fix the band bus if it broke down. A keen pedal and motor cyclist, he ran a bicycle shop in New Orleans for five years, and when the time came for him to move into a balcony apartment in St Peter's Street, his old apartment was so filled with bike and car parts that he had to keep it on just to store them.

Brown lived in Shreveport from 1973 before finally moving to New Orleans, playing at the city's Blue Angel in Bourbon Street for a long spell. But he hadn't entirely shed the musical refinement of the West Coast and he put together an all-star band in 1977 for recording which included Shelly Manne, Dick Cary and Eddie Miller, sophisticates far from the simple New Orleans tradition.

During the Eighties Brown was a member of Clive Wilson's Original Camellia Jazz Band, a group highly thought of in New Orleans. In 1984 he travelled to Singapore in a band led by the drummer Trevor Richards and worked there for six months, but in the main he was content to work around the New Orleans area, and when he came back from Singapore he was booked into the band which played in the long-running New Orleans stage production of One Mo' Time.

Brown had led his own band at the Palm Court Cafe in the French Quarter of New Orleans for a long time and played his last evening there with it on the Sunday evening before he died.

Albert "Pud" Brown, clarinettist, saxophonist and band leader: born 22 January 1917; died New Orleans 27 May 1996.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice