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Dirty Rag

Brownlee's Orchestra
of New Orleans


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"Where's Emmett Hardy ?"


This side was produced in New Orleans on January 23rd 1925 featuring Sharkey Bonano cornet, Johnny Wiggs trumpet, George Barth trumpet & trombone, Tom Brown trombone, Lester Bouchon and Paul Peque clarinet & sax, Harry Shields clarinet & baritone sax, Norman Brownlee piano & leader, Bill Eastwood, Behrman French, and Freddie Loyacano banjos, Frank Christian tuba, and Alonzo Crombie drums.

*"Dirty Rag" was composed by Sharkey Bonano, Harry Shields, and Norman Brownlee.

Among the groups documented during Okeh's field recording trip to New Orleans in 1925 were "Brownlee's Orchestra of New Orleans." Cornetist, Emmett Hardy, a member of the band since it's 1920 formation, contracted tuberculosis and became too ill to perform. For this reason unfortunately he is not heard here, replaced in 1924 by Sharkey Bonano whose style is said to have been similar.

Emmett Hardy did however make a lasting impression as an early influence on a young Bix Beiderbecke when he played in his hometown of Davenport, Iowa. He is also reported to have once beaten Louis Armstrong in a cutting contest during the late 1910's. -Matt Chauvin

The contest took place in New Orleans in 1919 and the older Armstrong was no push over. It took Hardy a long time to beat Louis whose playing at that stage would have been relatively embryonic when compared both with his later work and with the subtle mastery of harmony and technique. On the other hand the beautiful sound that the white kid (Emmett Hardy) is said to have possessed did gain him praise as the "Mozart of Jazz". -Henry Davis

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