Zue Robertson

* Mar 7, 1891 New Orleans, La.
† 1943, Watts Ca.

Instrument: trombone

As a brass band musician he played with: Olympia, Onward Brass Band

Alvin Cornelius “Zue” Robertson was born in New Orleans and was a of cousin Baptiste Delisle. In New Orleans he worked in Storyville with all the greats of that time and played frequently at Pete Lala’s in the district. Drafted in 1918, discharged the following year. Worked a lot in carnivals and circuses.16

In 1911 he played with King Oliver at Pete Lala’s and in 1916 he played with Oliver’s band at John T. Lala’s Cabaret.17

Around 1914 Bunk Johnson (trp) made a trip to Alexandria, some 200 miles to the north-west of New Orleans, with the pianist Clarence Williams and the celebrated itinerant trombonist Zue Robertson, whom Bunk rated very highly. Zue had worked with Buddy Bolden’s drummer Cornelius Tillman in New Orleans and then left to join Kit Carson Wild West Show. After returning home he played with Manuel Perez, Jim Robichaux and Richard M. Jones before settling in Chicago to work with Jelly Roll Morton and Joe King Oliver.6

Zue later played with the Original Creole Orchestra.5

Sunny Henry (trb) when asked if he had played with Joe Oliver and Zue Robertson, said that he had played with both of them in the Henry Allen Brass Band. The latter he said was a good musician who could read well and play “barrel house. Interview Jan 8. 1959 (William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University New Orleans).2

– Johnny St. Cyr told that Zue was a very good musician. He played both piano and trombone. He just had no scruples about telling a man he couldn’t play. When the circus came to town, Zue would be of. He loved to travel.
– According to Pops Foster Zue played with Johnny Lindsey on a riverboat.
– Wellman Braud said about Zue, he together with Edward “Kid” Ory were the best trombone men. He also mentioned that Zue was a fine piano player too.
– Roy Palmer, a trombone player too, talked about Zue as the man, one of the best fellows that would go with him in a band. They played brass band jobs together Zue playing first and Roy second. He discribed him as a sweet trombone player, not no whole load of hoarseness, he just played nice and sweet. 
Roy Palmer said Zue could play a little bit of piano. Only thing about Zue Ray said , he learned to play trombone correct and he wouldn’t play with a fellow if he didn’t play right. A man that cam in and played with him, played double with him, and he blasted. Oh, he wouldn’t worry with him at all. That’s why they say he was kind of funny.
– Natty Dominique (trp) said about Zue that he was a very nervous guy.3

Zue Robertson also played in the Olympia Orchestra.14

Also Zue was a member of the Magnolia Orchestra, formed by famous trompet player Louis Keppard in 1908. He was also a musician in Armand Piron’s Olympia Orchestra that played between 1912/14.
In 1923 Zue recorded with Jelly Roll Morton’s Jazz Band. Listen to his record: http://www.redhotjazz.com/jrmjazzband.html
Source: Exploring Early Jazz by Daniel Hardie

Credited by many as setting the pace on slide trombone, but was said to have been irresponsible. He thus never had any lasting fame, although he was rated very highly by Bunk Johnson. After starting up on piano he learnt to play trombone when he was 13. He was with Freddy Keppard’s Olympia band around 1913, and also with Joe Oliver. Sonny Henry recalled playing alongside Zue, and Joe Oliver, in the Allen Brass Band. He frequently appeared at Pete Lala’s. Around 1917 he was out of town playing in a Wild West Show band that was said to have featured the frontiersman, Kit Carson. After a spell back in New Orleans with Manuel Perez, also John Robichaux at the Lyric, and Richard M Jones, he settled in Chicago, playing with Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver. During much of the 1920s he was on the road with touring outfits, notably P.G.Lowery’s Circus, the Ringling Brothers, and Barnum and Bailey. Recorded with Morton’s Stomp Kings in 1923 with Natty Dominique. From 1929 he was a resident of New York, and in 1931 he gave up trombone for the piano. Finally in 1932 he settled on the West Coast and remained there for the rest of his life, occasionally working on piano and string bass.
Source: The Song For Me – Brian Wood

Jelly Roll Morton was the bandleader who pulled out a pistol at a session when trombonist Zue Robertson didn’t play the boss’s tune the way he wanted. i1

Sources (internet):

Sources (brassband history):
2 Fallen heroes
by Richard H. Knowles
3 New Orleans style by Bill Russell
In search of Buddy Bolden by Don Marquis
Bunk Johnson by Christopher Hillman
14 Shining trumpets by Rudi Blesh
New Orleans Jazz, family album by Al Rose and Edmond Souchon
Storyville New Orleans by Al Rose