By: Allen Yhorst Kimble, Jr | Photos courtesy of the Author
My name is Allen Yhorst Kimble, Jr. and I’ll be sharing thoughts and observations about my favorite subject Jazz, from New Orleans. I’ll be composing the posts you’ll be reading from my second story apartment in the Lower 9th Ward located about six blocks from Fats Domino’s old home and recording studio. I’ve been granted liberty to venture into and talk about other areas of life in this “new” New Orleans as she is a city very much in danger of losing her identity. Because I will be sharing some very strong and potentially controversial opinions, I must stress that they are mine and mine alone as I speak for no one else but myself. Also, consider that my perception is from the vantage point of my being a black man of 66 years of age born in south of theses United States.
The Untold Stories behind the New Orleans Jazz Story
Behind every great story are a series of related narratives that seldom come to light. Sub-stories so to speak, are often as incredible as the main story. Most of what I will be sharing with you can not be found anywhere else. They are my observations and subsequent opinions I’ve formed by virtue of my birth and life experiences here in the city of New Orleans and by the incident of my marriage. In the year 1969 I married, Sylvia Washington, the granddaughter of the late Captain and Manuella Duplessis Jones. Because of my marriage to Sylvia, I was afforded an extraordinarily unique connection to Louis Armstrong by way of her grand parents. If you don’t recognize the the names Joseph and Manuella Jones or Peter Davis at this point it is sad but understandable. In their overabundance of excitement and enthusiasm about Louis Armstrong, Jazz historians and writers around the world quickly whisk past the Jones’s giving scant attention to the Colored Waif’s Home if any at all. Who are they? What was their ultimate contribution to the history of Jazz as we know it? I’m here to say that because of the Captain & Manuella Jones and Professor Peter Davis, a young Louis Armstrong was not sent to prison to become a hardened criminal.
The captain and Manuella were turn of the 20th Century citizens who opened the “Colored Waif’s Home” for black boys. Prior to the waif’s home, colored boys as they were then identified, would be sent to jail along with adults and criminals. It is a widely known fact that the Captain and Manuella took Louie into the home in 1913 because of circumstances that are common knowledge. However, almost no one remembers that little Louis Armstrong had a very long and productive association with the Colored Waif’s Home because he first enter it in 1910. The 3+ years Louie spent under the tutelage and protection of the Joneses and Professor Davis enabled Armstrong to emerge into the world as an upright citizen and become the international celebrity he did. There are many extraordinary stories behind the story that I’ll be sharing here as long as you’ll allow me to. However, but be warned that I have a lot to say about a range of topics I believe you’ll want to know concerning Jazz in the Crescent city. Also, be advised that New Orleans spends millions of dollars annually about good news here. It is neither my intent nor desire to parrot what is written in the city’s marketing brochures. These are simply my observations and opinions about the direction the city I love and of my birth is headed, and the effects I believe it will inevitably have on Jazz in New Orleans.
Why Post at “Jazz In Europe?”
The fact of Europe having been an oasis for legions of black musicians since early in the 20th Century did not go unnoticed in my search for a place to share these stories. The decision to do so here at “Jazz In Europe” is a way of expressing my sincere gratitude and to say thank you for having been so gracious.
On An Unrelated Note: Though I’ve traced my family linage to the island of Bioko off the west coast of Africa, I’ve gone through my entire life unable to explain my middle name which some have suggested is of European in origin. If anyone would care to share any information that could shed light on my middle name, I would be most appreciative.
Allen Yhorst Kimble, Jr.