Recorded in New York in April/May 1922.
The only one listed for many of Yerkes' bands is New Orleans trombonist Tom Brown. (Click here for Tom Brown on Brownlee's Orchestra of New Orleans lone record...also Sharkey Bonano's first recording)
Tom Brown (June 3, 1888 – March 25, 1958), sometimes known by the nickname Red Brown, was an early
dixieland jazz trombonist. He also played string bass professionally.
Tom P. Brown was born in Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. His younger brother Steve Brown also became a prominent professional musician. He played trombone with the bands of Papa Jack Laine and Frank Christian; by 1910 usually worked leading bands under his own name. The band played in a style then locally known as "hot ragtime" or "ratty music". In early 1915, his band was heard by Vaudeville dancer Joe Frisco who then arranged a job for Brown's band in
. Chicago, Illinois
On May 15, 1915, Tom Brown's Band from Dixieland opened up at Lamb's Cafe at Clark & Randolph Streets in Chicago, with Ray Lopez, cornet and manager; Tom Brown, trombone and leader; Gussie Mueller clarinet, Arnold Loyacano piano and string bass; and Billy Lambert on drums. In Chicago Gussie Mueller was hired by bandleader Bert Kelly, and his place was taken by young
Orleans clarinetist Larry Shields.
This band seems to be the first to be popularly referred to as playing "Jazz", or, as it was spelled early on, "Jass". According to Brown, once his band started enjoying popularity the local
musicians union began picketing his band of non-union out-of-towners. One
picketer's placards intended to link Brown's band with the Storyville
prostitution district of New Orleans and the implied disreputable low life
status; the signs read "Don't Patronize This Jass Music". The term
"jass" at that time had a sexual connotation. The signs had the
opposite of the intended effect; more people came to hear the band out of
curiosity as to what "Jass Music" might be and how it could be
performed in public.
Brown realized the publicity potential and started calling his group "Brown's Jass Band". Some recently rediscovered
newspaper advertisements list it as "Brown's Jab Band" or "Jad
Band", confirming the reminiscences of Ray Lopez that the bandmembers
assumed that "Jass" was too rude a word to be printed in the
newspapers so they looked in a dictionary for printable words close to it, like
Years later, Brown would frequently brag that he led "the first white jazz band" to go up north. Brown's careful wording implies that he was aware that the Original Creole Orchestra preceded him and that they played jazz.
Tom Brown's Band enjoyed over four months of success in
before moving to New York City,
where it played for four months more before returning to New
Orleans in February 1916. Upon arriving home Brown
immediately started rounding up another band to go back to Chicago
with him. The group again included Larry Shields; at the end of October, Brown
agreed to switch clarinetists with the Original Dixieland Jass Band bringing
Alcide Nunez into his band. Brown, Nunez and New Orleans
drummer Ragbaby Stevens then went to work for Bert Kelly, who brought them to New
York where they temporarily replaced the Original
Dixieland Jass Band at Reisenweber's in 1918. Brown started doing freelance
recording work with New York
dance and novelty bands, then joined the band of Harry Yerkes. At the start of
1920 he was joined in the Yerkes Band by Alcide Nunez.
Tom Brown also played on Vaudeville in the acts of Joe Frisco and Ed Wynn.
About late 1921 Brown returned to
and joined Ray Miller's Black & White Melody Boys, with whom he made more
recordings. During this period he also co-lead a dance band with his brother
In the mid 1920s he returned home to
Orleans where he played with Johnny Bayersdorffer and
Norman Brownlee's bands, making a few excellent recordings.
During the Great Depression he supplemented his income from music by repairing radios. He opened up a music shop and a junk shop on
Street. He played string bass in local swing and
dance bands. With the revival of interest in traditional jazz he played in
various Dixieland bands in the 1950s, notably that of Johnny Wiggs. A local
television station thought it would be a good idea to invite Brown and Nick
LaRocca to talk about how jazz first spread north from New
Orleans, but the show had scaresly started before the
two old men got into an argument that turned into a fist-fight.
Tom Brown made his last recording just weeks before his death, his trombone playing apparently not suffering from the fact that he had neither teeth nor dentures at the time. Brown died in