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Papa Jack Laine

From Academic Kids

George Vital Laine aka Papa Jack (September 21, 1873 - June 1, 1966) was the most busy and perhaps the most important band leader in New Orleans in the years from the Spanish-American War to World War I.

Laine in 1906
Laine in 1906

Many of the New Orleans musicians who first spread jazz around the USA in the 1910s and 1920s got their start in the Laine bands.

Laine was a drummer, but was more noted for his skills at arranging and booking bands. He often had several different bands playing parades, dances, and advertising events around town at the same time. He usually used the band name "Reliance" for parade marching band jobs.

Laine's musicians included individuals from most of New Orleans' many ethnic groups-- French, Italian, German, Jewish, Latin American, etc. It also included African American musicians. Laine started leading bands before the Jim Crow codes went into effect in New Orleans. Even after segregation laws started demanding "whites" and "colored" be kept separate, Laine continued to hire light and medium light skinned African-American musicians, claiming that they were "Cuban" or "Mexican" if any segregationist tried to start trouble. Hence some musicians who played with black bands like those of Buddy Bolden and Joe "King" Oliver also played with Laine. Thus there was a wide cross-fertilization of musical ideas in the Laine organization.

Laine retired from the music booking business by 1920, but he lived a long life past 90, and was interviewed a number of times, providing first hand accounts of the early days of the development of New Orleans jazz.

Laine hired well over 100 musicians to play in his bands. Some of the more prominent musicians with his bands included:

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