Braud (Breaux), Wellman

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Braud (Breaux), Wellman

Braud (Breaux), Wellman, jazz bassist; b. St. James Parish, La., Jan. 25, 1891; d. La., Oct. 27, 1966. A major force in the early Ellington band, he was one of those who brought, at Ellington’s instigation, a New Orleans influence into the music. He began playing violin at the age of seven, later played violin and bass in string trios in New Orleans, including residency at Tom Anderson’s Cabaret; he also learned to play the trombone. He moved to Chicago in 1917, toured with John H. Wickliffe’s Band, then joined the Original Creole Orch. at the Pekin Cafe, Chicago; played with this band at Dreamland and De Lure Cafe, then joined Charlie Elgar’s Orch. c. 1922. He traveled to London with the Plantation Orch. in March-May 1923, doubling string bass and trombone. He returned to N.Y., worked a spell with Wilbur Sweatman, then played for various revues, including 7–11 Burlesque Company (1926), and Vaughn’s Lucky Sambo (1926–27). He joined Duke Ellington in mid-1927 and remained until May 1935 (sharing bass duties with Billy Taylor for last few months). He left to organize a band with Jimmy Noone for residency at their own short-lived Vodvil Club on 132nd Street, N.Y., with Kaiser Marshall Band, then late in 1935 became player-manager of The Spirits of Rhythm. He formed his own trio in 1937, which he led for several years, combining this work with many other bands including: Hot Lips Page (1938), Edgar Hayes (1939), Sidney Bechet (1940–41), Al Sears (1943), Garvin Bushell (1944), etc. He subbed in Duke Ellington’s Orch. (summer 1944), then worked regularly in N.Y. with Garvin Bush-ell’s Band (1944). He left full-time music to manage a pool hall and meat-marketing business, but continued to do regular gigs, including week-end work with Bunk Johnson in N.Y. (November 1947). In early 1956 he returned to full-time music and joined Kid Ory (touring Europe with Ory later that year). During the 1960s he lived in Calif.; worked with Joe Darensbourg (1960). He suffered a mild heart attack in the summer of 1961, and celebrated his return to good health by sitting in with Duke Ellington in autumn 1961. He worked regularly accompanying folksinger Barbara Dane in San Francisco, with brief spells of semi-retirement. In the early autumn of 1966 he toured Ore. with pianist Kenny Woodson. Shortly afterward he suffered a fatal heart attack at his homein Los Angeles.


Duke Ellington: Saturday Night Function (1929); “Misty MorninVSaratoga Swing” (1929); Double Check Stomp (1930). S. Greer: Saturday Night Function (1929). J.R. Morton: “Sweet Substitute/Panama” (1940). Bechet-Spanier Big Four: “Sweet Lorraine/Lazy River” (1940). B. Johnson: Last Testament of a Great Jazzman (1947). K. Ory: The Legendary Kid.

—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter