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Monk Hazel and his Bienville Roof Orchestra

Monk Hazel Wiggs
Monk Hazel (left) with what may be Happy Schilling’s Band. (Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University)

In addition to being a well regarded drummer, Arthur “Monk” Hazel (August 15, 1903 – March 5, 1968), occasionally took solos on brass instruments, notably cornet and melophone. He was a fixture on the New Orleans music scene for decades.

Hazel’s father was a drummer as well. Early on Monk played drums with Emmett Hardy, who gave him his first cornet, and then with Stalebread Lacombe. In the 1920s, Hazel worked with many bands including those led by Abbie Brunies (the Halfway House Orchestra), Tony Parenti (with whom he recorded in 1925) and Johnny Wiggs.

He led his own Bienville Roof Orchestra (which played for atop the Bienville Hotel at Lee Circle, and made recordings in 1928) and then spent time in New York playing with Johnny Wiggs, Jack Pettis and with his own group (1929–31). Hazel was in Hollywood for a period (working with Gene Austin) but eventually came back to New Orleans, performing with Joe Caprano (1937) and the Lloyd Danton Quintet.

Hazel spent 1942-43 in the Army and then worked for a time outside of music. However during his final 20 years, Hazel was once again quite active in New Orleans, performing with Sharkey Bonano, George Girard, Mike Lala, Santo Pecora and virtually every other important name in New Orleans jazz. As a leader, Monk Hazel recorded four titles in 1928 for Brunswick Records and a full album for Southland Records in 1954; Pete Fountain and Al Hirt were among his sidemen on the latter recording.- Adapted from Wiki

ddd discography

TitleRecording DateRecording LocationCompany
(Sidney Arodin)
12-1928New Orleans, LouisianaBrunswick
High Society
(Porter / Steeley)
12-1928New Orleans, LouisianaBrunswick
12-1928New Orleans, LouisianaBrunswick
Sizzling The Blues
(Joe Capraro)
12-1928New Orleans, LouisianaBrunswick

Sharkey BonanoTrumpet
Monk HazelDrums, Melotron, Vocals
Hal JordyAlto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Joe CapraroGuitar
Sidney ArodinClarinet, Tin Whistle
Luther LamatTuba


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