WENDELL EUGENE, 94, on Nov. 7 of pneumonia in New Orleans, Louisiana. Eugene was one of the most respected and longest-serving trombonists in traditional New Orleans jazz, performing at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe and local festivals as recently as 2015. At that time, he was the oldest active jazz musician in New Orleans. He served in the Navy during WWII, and in 1943 backed Louis Armstrong in a USO show. After the war, Eugene toured with the Lucky Millinder and Buddy Johnson orchestras.
He worked as a New Orleans letter carrier from 1949 through 1979, but remained active in the musical life of the city. A skilled sight reader, he taught trombone at New Orleans’ Grunewald School of Music and continued to perform at night and on weekends. He scheduled vacation time so that he could tour with the Onward Brass Band, the Olympia Brass Band, the Tuxedo Brass Band, and Andrew Hall’s Society Jazz Band. At 91, he was still performing regularly. He recorded his final album as a bandleader, If I Had My Life to Live Over, at age 90.