Holy Ghost Brass Band

The Holy Ghost Brass Band performed around early 1920s.
The name Holy Ghost was taken from the church or school hall on Louisiana Avenue where they rehearsed twice weekly.

From this musicians it’s known that they played in the Brass Band:

Cornet/trumpet Alcide”Al “Big” Landry (Eb cornet), Wooden Joe Nicholas, Martin “Manny” Gabriel sr.
Trombone Albert Warner
Clarinet Harold Dejan (Eb clarinet his first brass band), Albert “Dude” Gabriel
Bariton horn John  Porter, Corella
Alto horn Corella
Tenor horn Jesse Charles (Harold Dejan spook about a tenor sax)
Bass horn Bucko Grammer
Snare drum “Wells”
Bass drum “Little Jim” Mukes, “Koella”
Tour director Pinchback Touro

Interview with Harold Dejan by Marcel Joly

Harold also started to play with the Holy Ghost Brass Band under the direction of Pinchback Touro. He joined the Union which met at St. Katherine’s Hall on Tulane Avenue at that time.

H.D.: “In fact the Holy Ghost Brass Band was the first brass band I played with. That’s when Lorenzo Tio told my daddy that he would put me in a brass band, he said I can get him in the Holy Ghost Brass Band, they need an E-flat clarinet player, if you buy him an E-flat clarinet. So my daddy went the next day and bought me an E-flat clarinet because he liked to hear Eddie Cherie play it. Other good E-flat clarinet players were Lorenzo Tio, Willie Humphrey, George Lewis, John Casimir and Louis Cottrell. So I joined the Holy Ghost Brass Band. I once travelled to Opelousas, Louisiana, with them. We played a concert, it was a church
affair, but it was at a dance hall. They had our band and a family band. We stayed there about three days. Pinchback Touro was the director of the Holy Ghost. Wooden Joe Nicholas and Alcide Landry played trumpet. Corella played baritone and alto horn. Then there was a Jamaican playing French horn. Bucko Grammer, who lived on Mandeville Street somewhere, was playing bass horn. On snare drum was a guy called Wells, can’t remember his first name. On bass drum – I’m looking at him, a dark fellow – was Little Jim Mukes. He was a helluva bass drummer, played with one of the good brass bands. The bass drum was so big you couldn’t see him behind it, but that’s how he beat that bass drum. Albert Warner was one of the trombone players, I can’t remember the other one. I played E-flat and they had a B-flat clarinet too, as well as a tenor sax, Jesse Charles. I can’t think of the B-flat clarinet player’s name, but he could play! He couldn’t read good, but he could play. He could blow the hell out of that damn horn. Can’t recall his name.it was over 60 years ago.

M.J.: “What was the repertoire of the Holy Ghost Brass Band? Was it much the same as you play with the Olympia today?”

H.D.: “Some of ’em, like ‘Panama’, ‘High Society’, ‘That’s a plenty’, ‘Gloryland’, ‘Just a closer walk wit Thee’, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’. They never die. We also had a stack of music numbers that I can’t recall.

M.J.: “Did they only play parades or did they play for dances too?”

H.D.: “Mainly parades. The only dance I ever played with the Holy Ghost was in Opelousas.”

M.J.: “Would the band play different songs or the same songs?”

H.D.: “They played the same songs, but for the dances they take a march, they’d take the chord out of the march or the trio, you would say, and they’d play that part for a dance. They’d play a lot of waltzes, ‘Let me call you sweetheart’, a lot of beautiful waltzes.Like ‘Over the waves’. George Lewis played that one pretty, his improvising was just so beautiful. You see, you got a drummer, a bass playing that good tempo (sings it and beats tempo), I love that number.”

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