One of the most recognizable and respected names in the storied history of New Orleans brass band music is “Onward.” Founded “some time before 1877” according to one source, the Onward Brass Band gained considerable popularity during the 1880s. By the time of the Spanish-American War in the late 19th century, the ensemble had achieved a reputation as the number one marching band in New Orleans.
Following the war, cornetist Manuel Perez (a student of Onward founder Sylvester Coustaut) assumed leadership of the band. Onward Brass Band soon came to be regarded in the local music community as the most exciting of the city’s early brass bands. Its membership included many New Orleans music legends: in addition to Perez himself, names such as Peter Bocage, Lorenzo Tio Jr., George Baquet, Isidore Barbarin, and even, for a brief time, King Oliver....
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