Born: September 17, 1902 | Died: April 5, 1990 Primary Instrument: Trombone
Louis Nelson - trombone (1902 - 1990)
Louis Nelson, a jazz trombonist who was the last surviving musician from the original Preservation Hall Band. At the time of his death, in 1990, age 87, Nelson was still playing at Preservation Hall twice a week with the Kid Sheik band, as well as leading his own band on Saturdays. His style ranged from the unbridled energy of traditional New Orleans jazz to the sweet, lyrical sliding melodies of the swing era.
''He was the last personal link to the original tailgate style,'' said the jazz historian Dick Allen. ''That's the way trombonists used to play in New Orleans - sitting on the tailgate of the wagon as they advertised dances.''
Mr. Nelson was born in New Orleans on Sept. 17, 1902, but grew up in Napoleonville, La. His mother was a mathematician and a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music; his father was a physician.
He played in the Works Progress Administration's big band during the Depression, and was in the Navy Band during World War II. After the war, he joined Kid Thomas's band, which achieved fame quickly through its hard-driving performances. He was playing with the Thomas band in 1961 when private jam sessions at a French Quarter art gallery became so popular that the place was opened as Preservation Hall, dedicated to keeping the old-time music alive.
In the years since, he played with numerous bands, including those of George Lewis, Kid Howard and Billie and DeDe Pierce. He toured extensively and made recordings all over the world.