Albert Nicholas

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Albert Nicholas, Jimmy Ryan's (Club), New York, circa March 1947. Image: William P. Gottlieb

Albert Nicholas (born May 27, 1900 in New Orleans , † September 3, 1973 in Basel , Switzerland ) was an American jazz clarinetist (also saxophonist) of New Orleans jazz and band leader.


Albert Nicholas (1900–1973) jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, grave of honor at the Hörnli cemetery, Riehen, Basel-Stadt
Honorary grave in the Hörnli cemetery , Riehen, Basel-Stadt

Nicholas was a nephew of Wooden Joe Nicholas , who gave him a clarinet at an early age and with whom he was an apprentice, followed by the clarinetist Lorenzo Tio . He played with King Oliver , Buddy Petit and Manuel Perez at a young age .

During the First World War he was Nicholas from 1917 to 1919 in the Merchant Navy (as well as Zutty Singleton ) and on his return to New Orleans he founded his own band, in which Barney Bigard and Luis Russell played. In 1924 he went to King Oliver (and his "Dixie Syncopators") in Chicago . In 1926 he left him and wandered around the world. He played u. a. in Shanghai , Cairo (“Guido Curti's Band”) and Alexandria (“Benedetti's Six Crackerjacks”).

In 1928 he was back in the USA after a stopover in Paris and played in the Luis Russell Orchestra until 1933, as well as again from 1937 to 1939, when it formed the Louis Armstrong Orchestra . In between he worked for Sam Wooding , Bernard Addison and Chick Webb . He then recorded with Jelly Roll Morton (1939) and played with Zutty Singleton and John Kirby .

During the Second World War he was forced to earn his living as an overseer on the New York subway before he found work again in the " Dixieland Revival" after the war (1945 with Art Hodes , with Bunk Johnson and Kid Ory ) . In 1953 he followed Sidney Bechet's example and went to Paris, from where he toured Europe as a star soloist with the bands of Claude Luter and André Reweliotty as well as the Dutch Swing College Band . In the mid-sixties and early seventies, Nicholas played several times with Abbi Hübner's "Low Down Wizards" in Hamburg . In 1969 he had an appearance at the "Jazz Expo" in London and settled in Basel, where he played with Oscar Klein , but also with Bob Carter , Barry Martyn and with the Harlem Ramblers , with whom he a. a. 1971 had a highly regarded appearance at the Zurich Jazz Festival. In 1972 he opened Jazzland in Vienna with the “Red Hot Pods” and played at the Montreux Jazz Festival .

Musical assessment

The music journalist Martin Kunzler described him as “the most virtuoso of all New Orleans Creole clarinetists. In his elegant, poetic game he combined influences of the first and second generation [...] with his own elements. "


Nicholas has a guest appearance in the German hit film Die große Chance .

Record releases

Mezz Mezzrow, Albert Nicholas and Sy Sinclair, New York City, circa January 1947. Photo: Bill Gottlieb


Web links


  1. There are recordings of these appearances that were released in 2004 ( Weary Blues, Lonesome Road and Nobody Knows You, When You're Down and Out ), recorded at the Blue Note Jazz Club in 1968.
  2. (Re) establishing German Being: Whiteness and Masculinity in West German Cinema of the 1950s . Page 358