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Joe King Oliver

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Primary Instrument: Cornet

Born: May 11, 1885 | Died: April 10, 1938    

Joe Oliver is one of the most important figures in early Jazz. When we use the phrase Hot Jazz, we are really referring to his style of collective improvisation (rather than solos).

He was the mentor and teacher of Louis Armstrong. Louis idolized him and called him Papa Joe. Oliver even gave Armstrong the first cornet that Louis was to own. Oliver was blinded in one eye as a child, and often played while sitting in a chair, or leaning against the wall, with a derby hat tilted so that it hid his bad eye.

Joe was famous for his using mutes, derbies, bottles and cups to alter the sound of his cornet. He was able to get a wild array of sounds out of his horn with this arsenal of gizmos. Bubber Miley is said to have been inspired by his sound....
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