Jazz Banjoists of New Orleans

When I traveled to the Hogan Jazz Archive to explore the history of the New Orleans banjo, Bruce Raeburn greeted me with a hand-written list of every banjo player he’d been able to identify. For those interested in delving into this history, I’ve reproduced the list here as well as several images from the collection. Many of these musicians have folders of clippings, interviews, and recordings available in the collection. Some are very well-known, others remain very obscure. Most of these musicians are described, and many pictured, in the wonderful book by Al Rose and Edmond Souchon, New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album.


For now, working with Bruce Raeburn, we have tried to gather together as many photographs of these players as possible into the gallery below. Our long-term goal as we continue to work will be to fill in as much information about each of these players as possible. Of course if you have information or recollections about any of them to share, please let us know in the comments section!


— Laurent Dubois


For More Information about Jazz Banjoists:

(The following pages are under construction.)

Danny Barker

Charlie Bocage

Joseph “Fan” Bourgeau

Sidney Cater

Caffrey Darensbourg

Percy Darensbourg

Johnny Dave

“Big Eye” Louis Nelson Delille

Clarence Desdunes

Homer Eugene

Albert French

Clarence Gabriel

George Guesnon

Rene Hall

Blind Charlie Hays

Bill Huntington

William Manuel Johnson

Narvin Kimball

Emile Lacoume

Hilton “Nappy” Lamare

Lawrence Marrero

Rube McClellan

Richard McNeal

Arthur Mitchell

Lemon Nash

Philip Nickerson

Frank Pasley

Emmanuel Paul

William Penn

Sidney Pflueger

Joseph Philips Jr. (“Gossoon”)

Oscar Robinson

Ernest Roubleau

Willie Santiago

Emmanuel Sayles

George Sayles

Bud Scott

Johnny St. Cyr

Harrison Verrett

Clarence “Little Dad” Vincent


10 Replies to “Jazz Banjoists of New Orleans”

  1. Hello Dan! That is great to hear. I’m hoping to put a bit of material that I have about him up here soon. But would be great to hear your insights. I’ll write an email to you so that we can be in touch. Thanks!

  2. Great site. I also enjoyed the History of the Banjo video on YouTube. Johnny St. Cyr is a favorite of mine. Contrary to belief though, he was not the only banjoist on Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Hot Sevens. At one point Armstrong did a total lineup change and a guy named Mancy Carr was brought in on banjo. I don’t know very much about Carr though, and my personal opinion is that the Hot Fives and Sevens tracks with the best banjo sound are the ones with St. Cyr. He was simply a more inventive banjoist than the staccato, percussive chording of standard Dixieland banjo.

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  5. hello, I had heavy listen one of forkways record about43 years ago .

    that is banjo and steal guitar duo music. like neworlins jazz or blues or
    chanson instolmental or song music.

    ” doctor ” one player name had. do you know that music ?

  6. Does anyone have any information on ‘Banjo George’ Baron. An English plectrum banjo player who was a familiar figure in 1950s Soho/London. He once showed me some tricky chord work using a cardboard train ticket.
    He eventually moved to the Isle of Lundy, where his address was: Banjo George, Lundy.
    I am writing a history of Soho (London) in the 1950s and would love to find out more about Banjo Gerge. He’s pretty elusive. I attach a photo of George. Can anyone identify the banjo he is playing? It loks like a five or six string banjo, although I thought I remember himplaying a 4 string tenor banjo! ny help would be greatly appreciated. You can contact me by email at: storyart@aol.com. Thanks a lot.
    Sorry – I can’t seem to attach the photo, but if you want to see it put Banjo George Baron into Google images and you see George seated facing camera with a guitar player in profile on the right of the photo.

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