Eureka Brass Band

The Eureka brass band performed from 1920 until today Willie Parker reportedly chose the name under the inspiration of some acquaintances from the West Indies, who had a band they called the Eureka, as related by Richard Knowles in his 1996 history of New Orleans brass bands. 2p186 From this musicians it’s known that they played in the Brass Band:

Cornet/trumpet Willie Wilson *(1920 – 1937), ? Zeno (1920 – 1922?), Willie Web(b)er (1920 – 1923),   Adolph Alexander* (1920 – ), Santiomore (1922? – ), Louis Dumaine, Tom Albert *(1920 – 1937?) , Alcide Al “Big” Landry (1923 – 1937?), Percy Humphrey (late 1920s/early 1930s untill 1937 than from 1946-1967), Louis “Kid Shots” Madison (1937 – 1948), Dominique “T-boy” Remy (1937 – 1946), Willie “Sweet Lips” Pajaud (1946 replacing Remy 1946 – 1959), Wilbert Tillman (middle 1930s – ), Eddie Richardson (1948 replacing Madison – 1952),  George “Kid Shiek” Colar (1952 replacing Richardson – ), Ernie Cagnolatti (played as stood in in the 1950s), Charlie Love (played also as stood in in the 1950s), Lionel Ferbos (replaced Pajaud in 1959 – 1960), Peter Bocage (In 1950s as stood in / regular replacing Ferbos 1960 – 1967),  Oscar Giovanni, Milton Batiste, Isaiah Morgan, Kid Thomas Valentine, Joe Howard ( – ), Richard M. Jones (1902 – ), Henry “Red” Allen (-)
Trombone ? Shepherd (1920 – ), John? Mullin (1920 – 1937), Willie Cornish (1922? –  ), Albert  “Loochie” Jackson, Jim Robinson, Albert Warner (1929/30 – 1937), Joseph “Red” Clark (Early1930s –   replaced Warner after his died, in the mid-1940s he took over the bass)), Eddie Milton Summers (played in 1950s as a stood in ) , “Big Eye” Louis Nelson, Charles “Sonny” Henry ( – 1959), Oscar “Chicken” Henry (played in the 1950s as a stood in, replaced Sunny Henry 1959 – ), Joe “Kid” Avery, Earl Humphrey (1963 – )
Clarinet Willie Parker *(1920 – 1921/22), John Casimir (1921/22? – 1923/34), George Lewis (1923/24 – replacing Casimir) (rejoining in 1951 at the record session), Wilbert Tillman (second half 1920s – ), Albert Burbank ( – 1944/45),  Charlie Gabriel (1944 – ), Willie James Humphrey (1962 – ), ? Giovanni,
Bariton horn Johnny Wilson (1920 – mid 1930s)
Alto horn Alphonse Johnson *16 (1920 – mid 1930s), Richard M. Jones ( – ), Willie Eli or Willie James Humphrey (1961 – 1962),
Alto sax Manny Gabriel, Wilbert Tillmann ( – 1946), Ruben Roddy (1946 replacing Tillmann -1958), Isidore Barbarin, “Big head” Eddie Johnson (often replaced Roddy in the 1950s), Joe Harris jr. (often replaced Roddy in the 1950s), Harold Dejan (often replaced Roddy in the 1950s), Paul Barnes (often replaced Roddy in the 1950s)
Tenor sax Emanuel Paul 1/7-72 (1945 –  ), Adolphe “Tats” Alexander
Bass horn/ tuba/ sousaphone  Joe Parker (1920 – ), Ed Verret (1922? – late 1930s), Joseph “Red” Clark (mid 1940s – ’till he died in 1960)6-p84, Edward “Noon” Johnson (replacing Clark 1960 – ), William “Grant” Brown (late 1960s – ), Wilbert Tillmann ( – ), Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen, Jerome “Jerry” Gerold Green Sr.
Snare drum August “Shot” Cato (1920s – ), (Ramos) Remus “Brown Happy” Mathews, Art Ogan or Arthur Ogle (late 1940s replacing Mathews – 1952), Ernest Rogers, Alfred Williams (1952 – 1958), Christopher “Black Happy” Goldston (1958 replacing Williams – ), Thomas “Crackers”,  Daniel Mukes, Cie Frazier, William “Bill” Matthews (late 1960s), Chester Jones, Sammy Penn
Bass drum Willie Parker (manager and former (1920 – ), “Little” Jim Mukes (1920s – ), Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis (1939 – 1963), Henry “Booker T” Glass (replacing Lewis in 1963 – )Christopher “Black Happy” Goldston (occasionaly)
Leader Willie Wilson (founder and first leader until 1937), Dominique “T-boy” (petit boy) Remyi1 (second 1937 – 1946), Percy Humphrey (1946 – 1967 as a regular leader), Eddie Richardson (assistant leader under Humphrey), Frank Oxley.
Manager Joseph “Red” Clark
Grand Marshall Matthew “Fats” Houston 1962
“Shanks” 1963
“Boo boo” 1963
Alcide “Slow drag” Pavageau

* Founding member

Percy Humphrey

Matthew "Fats" Houston

The band met Louis Armstrong when he arrived in New Orleans to play an engagement at the Suburban Gardens.

1931, July 4:
The band played at Buddie Petit’s funeral, Louis Armstrong was a pall bearer at the funeral of Buddie Petit.
Percy Humphrey (tp), George Lewis (cl),

Joseph “Red” Clark became the manager of the band

After Johnson and Wilson left the band the horns were not replaced. At this stage the saxophones were introduced to the band.

Under Remy, Emanuel Paul was the first to play tenor saxophone in the band.

Albert Warner (tb), Emanuel Paul (ts), Charles “Sunny” Henry (tb), Joseph “Red” Clark (sous), Ruben Roddy (as), Eddie Richardson (tp), Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis (bsdm)

1951, August 25:
irst recording session, recorded by Alden Ashford and David Wyckoff (Folkways FA 2462). The recordings were made in open air at Marais street a place known as Belkoma Dance Station:
Ruben Roddy (as), George Lewis (Ebcl), Emanuel Paul (ts), Arthur Ogle (sndm), Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis (bsdm), Joseph “Red” Clark (sous), Percy Humphrey (tp), Albert Warner (tb), Eddie Richardson (tp), Charles “Sunny” Henry (tb), Willie Pajeaud (tp).

1951, was that the above mentioned funeral?

1951: playing a funeral for the Young Men Olympians Benevolent Association:
Albert Warner (tb), Emanuel Paul (ts), Charles “Sunny” Henry (tb), Joseph “Red” Clark (sous), Willie Pajeaud (tp), Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis (bsdm).

Eureka Brass Band in Masonic parade, corner of Dryades and Philip streets, summer 1952 (photo by William Russell).

1952: summer (Masonic parade)
Albert Warner (tb), Charles “Sunny” Henry (tb), Emanuel Paul (ts), Percy Humphrey (tp), Joseph “Red” Clark (sous), “Kid Shiek” Colar (tp), Ruben Roddy (as), Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis (bsdm), Willie Pajaud (tp).

1954 December:
The band played the funeral of Papa Celestin, including Percy Humphrey (tp), George Lewis (Ebcl) and Ricard Alexis (tp).

1956, January 12, 19 and 26:
Sam Charters recorded the band in rehearsel on several occasions.

1956: Funeral
Emanuel Paul (ts), John Casimer (cl), Alphonse Picou (?), Albert Warner (tb), Charles “Sunny” Henry (tb).


Eureka Brass Band on parade, 1956 (l to r): Willie Pajaud, trumpet; Cie Frazier, snare drum; Robert Lewis, bass drum; Manuel Paul, tenor saxophone; Harold Dejan, alto saxophone (photo by Ralston Crawford).


Frederick Ramsey jr. included the band in a film sequence inthe CBS documentary series “Odesey”.
Percy Humphrey (tp)

Eureka Brass Band (1958) Parade in Harahan, Louisiana.
From the left to the right: Percy Humphrey (tp), Alfred Williams (sndm),
Willie Pajeaud (tp), Emanuel Paul (tenor sax), Albert Warner (tb), Robert Lewis (bassdm),
Eddie Summers (tb), Harold Dejean (alto-sax) and Red Clark (tu)

End 1950's:

St. Louis Cemetery

Eureka Brass Band end 1950’s – Percy Humphrey – Kid Sheik – Peter Bocage (tp) – Black Happy Goldston (sn dms) – Robert Lewis (bs dms) – Manny Paul (tnr sx) – Willie Humphrey (alt sx) – Albert Warner – Chicken Henry (tbn) – Red Clark (bs horn) (Jempi De Donder collection)


Eureka Brass Band at Young Men Olympians funeral, 1958 (l to r): Andy Anderson, trumpet; Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis, bass drum (photo by Ralston Crawford).


The Eureka Brass Band May 1960 – Black Happy Goldtson(snr dms) – Sunny Henry (tbn) – Manny Paul (tnr sx) – Albert Fernandez Walters (tpt) – Ernest Cagnolatti (tpt) – John Handy (a sx) – Chicken Henry (tbn) – Fewclothes Lewis (bs dms) – Red Clark (b bs) (photo Mona MacMurray collection) i2

1960, May: (Funeral of Willie Pajeaud who died May 12)
Lionel Ferbos (tp)

1961 February:
The Eureka was filmed at Picou’s funeral. (video Sing On)
Albert Warner (tb), Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis (bsdm), Christopher “Black Happy” Goldston (sndm), Edward “Noon” Johnson (sous), Emanuel Paul (ts),

1961, May 28:
Alcide “Slor Drag” Pavageau (grmarsh), Albert Warner (tb), Emanuel Paul (ts), Oscar “Chicken” Henry (tb), Willie Humphrey (cl), Christopher “Black Happy” Goldston (sndm)

1961, September 28:
Oscar “Chicken” Henry (tb), Bill Matthews (tb), Wilbert Tillman (sous), Willie Humphrey (cl), Robert “Son Fewclothes” Lewis (bsdm), Peter Bocage (tp).

1962, July 2:
The Eureka made their last formal recording session for Atlantic (Atlantic 1408) at the Preservation Hall.
Percy Humphrey (tp), George “Kid Sheik” Colar (tp), Peter Bocage (tp), Albert Warner (tb), Oscar “Chicken” Henry (tb), Willie Humphrey (cl), Emanuel Paul (ts), Wilbert “Bird” Tillman (sous), Josiah “Cie” Frazier (sndm), Robert “Some Fewclothes” Lewis (bsdm).

1962, August 31: playing for a store on Gentilly
Vernon Gilbert (tp), George “Kid Sheik” Colar (tp), Peter Bocage (tp), Louis Nelson (tb), Oscar “Chicken” Henry (tb), Willie Humphrey (cl), Emanuel Paul (ts), Wilbert “Bird” Tillman (sous), Alfred Williams (sndm), Henry Booker T Glass (bsdm).

President Kennedy’s First International Jazz Festival, Washington D.C. 1962

Members of Chris Barber’s band played with the Eureka in the parade .i3


In 1963, trombonist Roy Rubinstein ventured to Louisiana and snapped these photos of the famous Eureka Brass Band in Algiers. Band members include Kid Thomas Valentine, Kid Sheik, Earl Humphrey, Willie Humphrey, Peter Bocage, Emanuel Paul and Wilbert Tillman.
Special thanks to Norrie Cox who asked permission from R. Rubinstein to publish these pictures on our side.

1964, October 10:
Albert Warner (tb), Chester Jones (sndm), Oscar “Chicken” Henry (tb), Jerry Greene (tuba), Andrew Morgan, “Kid Shiek” Colar (tp), Peter Bocage (tp)

Benefit of United Heart Fund at Royal Orleans Hotel

1965, January:

On Stage:

The Eureka was recorded and filmed for the title sequence of the MGM film:
“The Cincinnati Kid”

The band recorded at a concert in Bridgeport, Connecticut February 25 (Jazzology JCE 35)
Percy Humphrey (tp), Earl Humphrey (tb), Oscar “Chicken” Henry (tb), William Brown (bs), Willie Humphrey (cl), Emanuel Paul (ts), Chester Jones (sndm), Henry “Booker T” Glass  (bsdm), Peter Bocage (tp), Milton Batiste (tp), William “Grant” Brown (sous) Grand Marshal Fats Houston.

The recordings were made by Big Bill Bissonnette. He made a deal with Percy Humphrey he could record 4 numbers or 20 minutes of the concert. Four tunes were recorded, St. Louis blues, Nearer My God to thee, Jambalaya and Oh, didn’t he ramble.

1966: spring (according to Lee Friedlander in his book “the Jazz people of New Orleans”
Danny Barker (Grand-Marshall), Willie Humphrey (cl), Peter Bocage (tp), Earl Humphrey (tb), Papa Glass, Milton Batiste (tp)


By Bill Bissonnette

They came by bus from Boston. All eleven of them. Percy Humphrey, trumpet, his brother Willie, clarinet; his other brother, Earl, trombone; Milton Battiste, trumpet; Peter Bocage, trumpet; Oscar “Chicken” Henry, trombone, Emanuel Paul, tenor sax; William Brown, sousaphone; Chester Jones, snare drum; Henry “Booker T” Glass, bass drum and Grand Marshal Fats Houston. The Eureka Brass Band of New Orleans had arrived in Connecticut… in the middle of one of the worst blizzards of the decade.

Percy had called me to let me know that the Eureka would be doing a concert in Boston. They would be traveling by bus from Boston to New York on February 25,1966. If I wanted, they could stop off in Bridgeport for one concert on that day. It would be the most expensive single concert we ever put on but I wanted them to come. And I wanted to record them.

Percy and I discussed terms. Percy always drove a hard bargain and we finally agreed on a price which would allow me to record four songs or twenty minutes whichever was longer. I brought it to the governing board of the jazz club and they approved it in minutes even though it was a budget buster. We would need a minimum of four hundred people in the audience at a higher than normal ticket just to break even. This even after the money I was willing to personally put up for my recording. It was risky business. It would have been risky even in a month when the weath er was reliable. February is winter in extemis in Connecticut. We decided to gamble on the weather. We lost.

By the time we picked up the band at the bus terminal in Bridgeport early in the day, there was already several inches of fresh snow on the ground and it was coming down at a rate of over an inch an hour. Several of us took our cars down to meet them. We made arrangements with various club members to put them up overnight and feed them.

The concert was scheduled for 8PM. About 6PM the snow stopped with over a foot of it on the ground. There was no backing out now. The concert would have to go on. The band would have to be paid in any event so we could have to try to make it to the Glorieta Manor site and hope that at least a few fans would show up. Some of the main roads were being plowed as we prepared to leave. The phone rang. It was the manager of the Manor asking if we intended to cancel He didn’t want to go to the expense of having his parking lot plowed. I told him we were on the way and to make sure the plow got there before we did.

When we arrived, a plow was at work clearing the driveways to the hail. By 8:30, the Easy Riders were ready to go with our opening set. And to our surprise and delight, the hail was already more than half full with a line of cars outside waiting for the plow to clear additional parking areas. We played until 9:30 when the hail was filled to capacity: over 600 fans had braved the storm. What a magnificent tribute to this band that so many people would go out in such bad weather to see and hear them. They would not be disappointed.

I approached the mike and made the announcement all were waiting for. “Ladies and gentlemen,” I raised my finger and pointed over their heads to the back of the hall, “the EUREKA BASS BAND OF NEW ORLEANS!”

The bass drum boomed. The trumpet sounded its call to arms and the Eureka marched into the hail behind the gyrating hulk of Fats Houston, his hat held high in his outstretched arm,
his chest ablaze with the Eureka ban- net The crowd went wild. People were standing on chairs to get a better look as the Eureka snaked through the aisles. The strains of “Just a Little While to Stay Here” filled the hall.

Percy greeted the audience. I went down to where Mike Fast was getting ready and sat beside hint to make the critical decision of when to turn on the machine for those four precious songs. Jack Guckin was there also trying to help me decide. Mike glanced at me and said, “you know I could flick that switch right now and get a whole set. “No Mike. A deal’s a deal. Beyond the very fact of recording the Eureka, another thought went through my mind. This was the opportunity to record the three Humphrey brothers together for the first time. There they were” Percy, Willie and Earl together on the same stage.

Percy and I agreed that I would signal him when the recording would begin and I would then take the next four numbers, no matter what they were or how they came out. I had discussed some numbers with him that I wanted. He would try to do them during my twenty minutes. I was dying to turn the recorder on but I was determined to hold off until I thought the band had hit its stride. It was killing me to wait but I did. We did not record the first set at all.

During the break we were talking to Chicken Henry. He took me aside and turned to me. “Bill,” he said looking very serious, “I’se gonna tell you somethin’ nobody else knows. I knows the secret of good trombonin’ and good health and I’m gonna tell you it. And you never forget it. Clean your horn and your bowels everyday and you’ll always play good and never be sick.” And now you know it too. Don’t forget it.

Percy was in good form that night. Before the job pianist Bill Sinclair noticed him taking swigs out of a bottle. Thinking it was booze, Bill cozied up to him and asked him what he was drinking.

“Olive oil,” Percy replied.
“Olive oil? You’re kidding.”

“No man, it’s olive oil. I always drink olive oil when I’m gonna be drinking alcohol because it cancels out the alcohol and you don’t feel it.

Want some?”

Percy asked me why! hadn’t taped the first set. “You better get that machine going if you gonna get that tape you want?’ I told him I would take the first four numbers of the next set. “Just don’t forget to turn it off after those four numbers,” he said.

The recorder went on. Mike felt confident all his levels were set and he assured me we would get a good recording. The band opened with the “Saint Louis Blues?’

And now I am going to tell you a little story which is the most bizarre story I will tell you in this book. You may not believe it but it is the absolute truth. As the Eureka played through “Saint Louis Blues,” it came time for Earl and Chicken to blow a chorus. Earl stepped up to the mike, raised his trombone to his mouth and, just as he got ready to blow his false teeth dropped out of his mouth onto the stage! He glanced out at the audience, reached down and picked them up, put them back in his mouth and began to blow his horn as if nothing had happened.

I had requested a dirge of Percy and he obliged with a beautiful rendition of “Nearer My God To Thee?’ I also taped “Jambalaya” and “Oh! Didn’t He Ramble.” This completed my four numbers. We switched the recorder off. The concert was over. It was a great success in every way. It was my intention to put out the session as a concert recording with the Eureka on one side and the Easy Riders on the other. It didn’t work out that way. A few months later my wife and I were divorced. I needed money for my legal fees. I had only one way to raise it quickly. I sold the Eureka Brass Band session to George Buck. It was released two decades later coupled on an album with the great Barry Martyn recording of the Olympia Brass Band.

The morning after the concert broke clear and cold. We delivered the Eureka to Kennedy Airport. Fats Houston pranced through the main terminal as if he was leading a parade. the annoyance of the band and the delight of passers-by An hour later the Eureka was on the way home to New Orleans.

1969, Januari 3:

Oscar “” Chicken” Henry

Funeral of George Lewis
Percy Humphrey (tp), Oscar “Chicken” Henri (trb)

1970, April:

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Mahalia Jackson, often called the greatest gospel singer, returned to her hometown to appear at the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April of 1970. While attending the Louisiana Heritage Fair in Congo Square (then known as Beauregard Square), she and Duke Ellington, who also appeared at the event, came upon the Eureka Brass Band leading a crowd of second-line revelers through the Festival grounds. George Wein, producer of the Festival, handed Ms. Jackson a microphone, she sang along with the band and joined the parade…and the spirit of Jazz Fest was born.

1970, July 10: Performens on the New Orleans Jazzfestival at Newport
Percy Humphrey (tp), “De de” Pierce (tp), Lionel Ferbos (tp), Jim Robinson (tb), Paul Crawford (tb), Orange Kellin (cl), Capt. John Handy (as), Billie Pierce (pno), Allan Jaffa (tuba), Josiah “Cie” Frazier (sndm), Henry “Booker T” Glass (bsdm). Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Hackett played each on one song.

De De Pierce (trp) died on November 26. At his funeral the Eureka Brass Band played together with the Olympia and the Young Tuxedo Brassband.

1977, April: Newcombe College in New Orleans.i2
Percy Humphrey, Albert Walters and Alvin Alcorn (tp), Louis Nelson and Frank Demond (trb), Manny Paul (ts), Willie Humphrey (cl), Allan Jaffe (bass horn), Cie Frazier (sndm) and Chester Jones (bsdm).

After the late 1960s the band played more like a pick–up band.

Somewhere in New Orleans, don’t know when

CD’s of this brassband: Brassband history on CD

Sources books:
2 Fallen heroes by Richard H. Knowles
6 Bunk Johnson his life & times by Christopher Hillman
7 New Orleans jazz by Adam Olivier
New Orleans Jazz, family album by Al Rose and Edmond Souchon

Sources (internet):
i1 on tour 1964 and interview April 14, 1960 documented at Tulane University)
i5 From The Jazz CrusadeThe Jazz Crusade: The Inside Story of the Great New Orleans Revival of the 1960s by Big Bill Bissonne.
This article was published in Jazzbeat fall 2003

1 Funeral Parade of the Eureka on You Tube: