Buddie Petit was, at the height of his powers, considered one of the greatest of the New Orleans cornet players. Although he never recorded, many of the second and third generations of Crescent City jazzman revered him and got their professional start in his many bands.
Petit was born Joseph Crawford in 1895 in White Castle, a small town about one hundred miles west of New Orleans. His father died while he was still a young man and his mother decided to move to New Orleans around the turn of the century. Soon after arriving she married trombonist Joseph Petit. Buddie took his stepfather’s surname and, to avoid confusion with Petit Sr, changed his first name to Buddie.
He began playing music shortly after moving to New Orleans, presumably after hearing his stepfather, learning from one of jazz’s most infamous characters, Bunk Johnson. Many of the later day New Orleanian trumpeters like Lee Collins and Punch Miller recalled Petit’s style as modeled very closely on Bunk’s.
By age 20, Petit’s reputation as a solid player was firmly established and in 1917 Petit and trombonist Frankie Dusen headed west for Los Angeles to join Jelly Roll Morton’s band. The experience was apparently not a great one, and Petit returned to New Orleans refusing to tour outside of the gulf coast again.
Buddie continued to lead successful dance and brass bands for the next several years and, unusual for a band leader, always played second cornet. Collins did recall that during funeral processions on the way back from the cemetery Petit would take solos. One of Louis Armstrong earliest band experiences was playing second-line cornet in one of Petit’s marching bands.
During the later part of his life, Buddie seems to have been relatively inactive in music and died in 1931. Louis Armstrong was one of the pall-bearers at Petit’s funeral. Unfortunately, there are no known recordings featuring the great cornetist.
by Ted Gottsegen
Redhotjazz.com was a pioneering website during the "Information wants to be Free" era of the 1990s. In that spirit we are recovering the lost data from the now defunct site and sharing it with you.
Most of the music in the archive is in the form of MP3s hosted on Archive.org or the French servers of Jazz-on-line.com where this music is all in the public domain.
Files unavailable from those sources we host ourselves. They were made from original 78 RPM records in the hands of private collectors in the 1990s who contributed to the original redhotjazz.com. They were hosted as .ra files originally and we have converted them into the more modern MP3 format. They are of inferior quality to what is available commercially and are intended for reference purposes only. In some cases a Real Audio (.ra) file from Archive.org will download. Don't be scared! Those files will play in many music programs, but not Windows Media Player.