In 1924 he joined King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators in Chicago and stayed with them until 1926. He then played in bands in Cairo, Shanghai, and Alexandria of all places. He returned to America in 1928 and joined the Luis Russell Orchestra and stayed with them until 1933. He played with a series of bands for the next few years until he rejoined Russell in 1937 with the Louis Armstrong Orchestra and stayed until 1939 and recorded with Jelly Roll Morton in 1939.
He then played in a series of bands until 1941, when he took a job as a guard on the New York Subway. In 1945 he returned to music with the Dixieland revival of the late 1940s, playing with Art Hodes, Bunk Johnson and Kid Ory. In 1953 Nicholas moved to France where he remained for the rest of his life.