THE ICON: King Oliver
THE LEGACY: His birth name was Joseph Nathan Oliver, but they called him King, a fittingly regal moniker for one of the pioneers of New Orleans jazz. What’s more, he lived up to that name, first in the Crescent City and then in Chicago, where King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band — and its trove of early recordings — served as a key conduit for the exporting of New Orleans-style jazz to the wider world. From a musical standpoint, he was known for his creative use of trumpet mutes –making the instrument “talk” by producing a novel wah-wah sound — but if there’s one thing for which he is most remembered, it’s for his mentorship of a young New Orleans trumpeter named Louis Armstrong, a talented student who would one day surpass the master, but who, unlike the rest of the fickle music world, would never forget who the first cornet king of New Orleans was.
THE ARTIST: Gabriel Flores
THE INSPIRATION: “It was my ambition to play as he did. I still think that if it had not been for Joe Oliver, Jazz would not be what it is today.” — Louis Armstrong, in his autobiography