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Alphonse Picou (1878-1961)
Alphonse Picou (1878-1961)Creole clarinetist Alphonse Picou (10-18-1880 to 2-4-1961) was one of the earliest Jazz musicians from New Orleans and is generally credited with developing the clarinet part for the song “High Society” which was one of the most influential parts of early Jazz.

At the turn of the century Picou was playing in Excelsior Brass Band and then joined Freddie Keppard’s Olympia Orchestra. In the years before World War I he was playing with the Tuxedo Brass Band in New Orleans. Sometime around 1915 he played briefly in Chicago with Manuel Perez at the Arsonia Café, but soon afterward returned to New Orleans.

In 1918 he was playing in Wooden Joe Nichols’ band but spent the 1920s making his living playing in non-Jazz orchestras. He left the music business in 1932 and worked as a tinsmith. During the Dixieland revival of the 1940s Picou returned to the music business and played and made records with Papa Celestin and Kid Rena. He led his own small group in New Orleans in the 1950s and appeared with the Eureka Band. When he died in 1961 he was given an elaborate Jazz funeral.

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