Keyes, Joe, jazz trumpeter; b. Houston, Tex., ca. 1907; d. N.Y., November 1950. From 1928 he played with various bands in Houston, including Johnson’s Joymak-ers. He was with Eugene Coy (early 1930), then with Jap Allen (summer 1930), but left Allen to join Blanche Calloway in April 1931. He joined Bennie Moten (1932), was with Count Basie in Little Rock, Ark. (early 1934), then briefly was with Nat Towles before joining Rook Ganz in Minneapolis (1934). He rejoined Basie in Kansas City and traveled to N.Y. with him in late 1936. He left in 1937, gigged with various bands including Hot Lips Page’s. He was with Claude Hopkins at Meadowbrook in 1939, briefly with Eddie Durham’s Band (1940), and afterwards played for a short while with Fletcher Henderson and Fats Wailer (1941). In 1943 he worked in the Wildcats Band, organized by Claude Hopkins at the Eastern Aircraft Factory. Because of drinking problems, he did little regular playing in the last years of his life. Cab Calloway bought him a new trumpet and tried to get him to resume regular playing, but to no avail. On Nov. 6, 1950, his body was found floating in the Harlem River. A mystery surrounds the manner of his death; it was formally described as drowning from undetermined circumstances. Shortly before his disappearance he had been showing people a roll of money that his mother had sent him to join her in Dallas.
—John Chilton, Who‘s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter