Walking with the King - George Lewis and his New Orleans Jazz Band
The last of the real New Orleans Jazz Bands.
George Lewis clarinet, Kid Howard cornet, Jim Robinson trombone, Joe Robichaux piano, Slow Drag Pavagau bass and Joe Watkins drums. Recorded in 1959 in a Jazz club in Germany.
George Lewis (1900 – 1968) was an American jazz clarinetist who achieved his greatest fame and influence in his later decades of life. He was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Lewis was playing clarinet professionally by 1917. During the Great Depression he took a day job as a stevedore, continuing to take such music jobs after hours as he could find.
In 1942 some jazz fans and writers came to New Orleans to record the legendary older trumpeter Bunk Johnson. Bunk picked Lewis for the recording session. Previously almost totally unknown outside of New Orleans, Lewis impressed many listeners, and he made his first recordings under his own name
In 1944 Lewis was badly injured in a stevedoring accident when a container fell on his chest. For a time it was thought that even if he recovered he would be unable to play clarinet. After Bunk's final retirement in 1946, Lewis took over leadership of the band, usually featuring Robinson, Pavageau, Lwrence Marrero, AntonPurnell, drummer Joe Watkins, and a succession of New Orleans trumpet players including Avery "Kid" Howard, Starting in 1949 he was a regular at the French Quarter's Bourbon Street entertainment clubs.National touring soon followed, and Lewis became a kind of symbol of the New Orleans jazz tradition, traveling ever more widely, and often telling his audiences that his touring band was "the last of the real New Orleans jazz bands."
In the mid fifties he repeatedly toured Europe and Japan, and many young clarinetists from around the world modeled their playing closely on his. While in New Orleans, he played regularly at Preservation Hall from its opening in 1961 until shortly before his death.