DeParis, Wilbur , leader, trombonist, occasionally drummer; b. Crawfordsville, Ind., Jan. 11,1900; d. N.Y., Jan. 3, 1973. His brother, Sidney, was a trumpeter; their father was a bandmaster and music teacher. He began on alto horn at the age of 7, and was soon working with his father’s carnival band. Later he played tent shows and toured on the T.O.B.A, circuit. He traveled to New Orleans (c. 1922) with Mack’s Merrymakers, and sat in on ’C’ melody sax with Louis Armstrong. From 1925 he regularly led his own band in Philadelphia, and also worked with various other local bands. In 1927–28, he managed the big band resident at the Pearl Theatre, Philadelphia. He relocated to N.Y. toward the end of the decade, and during the 1930s worked with various groups, including Noble Sissle (for a European tour in 1931), and Mills Blue Rhythm Band (recording in 1937). He was with Teddy Hill from late 1936–37, including a trip to Europe, then with Louis Armstrong (November 1937 until September 1940). Briefly with the Ella Fitzgerald Orch., DeParis then worked in the pit band for the Broadway show The Pirate (1942). During spring 1943, he toured with the Roy Eldridge Big Band, and then led his own small band, before joining Duke Ellington from late 1945 until May 1947. He also recorded with Sidney Bechet in 1946, 1949, and 1950. He reformed his own highly successful small band (with brother Sidney De-Paris and Omer Simeon), mainly resident at Jimmy Ryan’s in N.Y. from 1951 until early 1962 (he toured Africa in the spring of 1957, a U.S. State-Department sponsored trip). The band continued to work various clubs through the 1960s. He led his own rehearsal studio in N.Y. (1971), and worked as both leader and arranger until 1972.
Evening at Jimmy Ryan’s (1951); And His Rampart Street Ramblers (1952); Wilbur DeParis, Vol. 2 (1952); New New Orleans Jazz (1955); At Symphony Hall (1956); Marchin’ and Swingin’ (1956); New Orleans Blues (1957); That’s Aplenty (1958); On the Riviera (1960); Wild Jazz Age (1960).
—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter