Edward Ory was born in LaPlace, Louisiana, on Christmas Day 1886. As a child, he began to make music on homemade instruments. He soon was playing banjo, then switched to trombone. Ory went on to introduce and develop the “tailgate” style, in which the trombone plays a rhythmic line underneath the trumpets and cornets.
By 1912 he was leading one of the best-known bands in New Orleans. Among its members at various times were several musicians who later were highly influential in jazz development, including Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, Jimmy Noone, King Oliver, and Louis Armstrong. In 1919 Ory moved to California, forming a new band in Los Angeles, Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra. They played steady engagements, up and down the coast. This band was the first black band from New Orleans to record. Under the name Spikes’s Seven Pods of Pepper, they recorded “Ory’s Creole Trombone”, and “Society Blues”, for the Sunshine label. The name came from the Spikes brothers who owned the label, and sold the records out of their music store in Los Angeles. Kid Ory also recorded two blues records for them one with Ruby Lee, and the other with Roberta Dudley, this time using the name Ory’s Sunshine Orchestra.
After five years, in 1925 he moved to Chicago, where jazz was hot and by the end of the ‘20s had become a prolific jazz recording artist. He not only played and recorded with King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton, but became a member of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, and Seven, thereby appearing on some of the most influential jazz discs of all time. His energetic “tailgate” trombone was also a key feature of several other recording groups, including the New Orleans Wanderers and Bootblacks, and his featured solos, such as “Muskrat Ramble,” incorporated some of the tricks he had mastered in his youth.
Returning to California in 1930, he went into the chicken farm business with his brother, and did quite well at that. He gigged round Los Angeles in the 1930s, but after playing on television and discs in 1944, his band became the centre of the West Coast 'revival' and he was celebrated as a founding father of jazz. He started to record again with his revived Creole Orchestra, and between 1944 and 1949 did scores of sessions for the Columbia, Crescent, Decca, and Exner labels.
During the ‘50’s he toured Europe, played Newport, and recorded for Verve, highlighted by a ’59 tribute to W.C. Handy. He continued with studio work into the ‘60’s, retiring in 1966. Kid Ory died in Hawaii on Jan. 23, 1973. In 1986 he was inducted into the Jazz and Big Band Hall of Fame.