One of the early jazz cornet legends to come out of New Orleans, Freddie Keppard was on the scene after Buddy Bolden but before King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, making him an essential in the evolution of the instrument for the period.
Keppard was born in New Orleans Feb.27, 1890. Before choosing to play the cornet, Keppard experimented with various other instruments, none of which was especially suitable for performing jazz. In the years before World War I he played with the Olympia Orchestra in New Orleans and several other parade and concert bands. He was leader of the Original Creole Orchestra which toured California and the east coast, in the process helping in spreading the new young jazz sound around the country. After the war Keppard settled in Chicago, where he worked with King Oliver, Jimmie Noone and other luminaries of the city's jazz scene.
In the early 20s he played in various bands, sometimes leading his own, almost always in or around Chicago, where he then recorded with Doc Cook's Dreamland Orchestra and Erskine Tate's Orchestra. He also played with Ollie Powers and with Charles Elgar Creole Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom. He seldom played after 1928 due to tuberculosis and died in July 1933.
Keppard's few recordings barely support his status as a leading hornman of early jazz and a direct link to the legendary playing of Buddy Bolden. Nevertheless, there are suggestions of his qualities and it is hard to question the reputation he enjoyed among fellow musicians such as Sidney Bechet and Milt Hinton. Along with Kid Ory, Keppard was important in helping to spread jazz into areas of the west coast not previously familiar with the music.
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