Wilbur de Paris
De Paris was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where his father, Sidney G. Paris, who came from West Virginia and who was a musician (trombone, banjo, guitar), a circus barker, a ventriloquist, a minstrel, etc., had met and married his mother, Fannie Hyatt. By the autumn of 1906, when he was five, de Paris had started playing alto saxophone, and a year later was working for his father in one of his plantation shows.
These shows were small travelling theatrical-musical groups of singers, dancers, actors, comedians, and musicians who mainly worked for Theatre Owners and Bookers Association in the South. They performed in small tents and theatres with a mixture of drama, musical and comedy sketches, magic, etc., which would later be incorporated into vaudeville.
De Paris heard jazz first at age 16, circa 1917, as a member of a summer show that played at the Lyric Theatre. He also met Louis Armstrong whilst playing the saxophone at Tom Anderson's Cafe, and with A. J. Piron. After high school, de Paris worked for his father for a time, then worked for more travelling shows in the east, then started playing in Philadelphia in the early 1920s. His first band was Wilbur de Paris and his Cottonpickers. After the Wall Street Crash in 1929 he disbanded his second group and went to New York to play for many years with the greats of jazz and to make records.
In the late 1940s, together with his brother, Sidney De Paris, he started a band called New New Orleans Jazz, featuring legendary jazzmen including the famed ex-Jelly Roll Morton clarinetist Omer Simeon. Other band members included drummers Zutty Singleton & Freddie Moore. The banjo chair was filled first by Eddie Gibbs and later by Lee Blair also of Morton fame. Don Kirkpatrick was the band's most consistent piano player. This band became an institution in New York City during the 1950s and toured the world in the late 1950s. The band recorded extensively.
- Carr, Ian; Digby Fairweather, Brian Priestley (1995). Jazz: The Rough Guide. The Rough Guides. p. 168. ISBN 1-85828-137-7.