Elmer Talbert "Coo Coo"
Born in New Orleans on August 8, 1900 – Died in New Orleans on December 13, 1950.
The following is a brief summary of Elmer Talbert's career with thanks to "New Orleans Jazz – a family album by Dr. Edmond Souchon and Al Rose (Louisiana University Press)
In 1929, he was with the Arnold Depass Dance Orchestra. He had lessons from Kid Rena and sometimes worked with Rena's low band and Paul Barnes. He was, like many New Orleans musicians, a part-time musician and made a living working in a laundromat. In 1947, he suffered a stroke but recovered well.
Between 1947 and his untimely death from another stroke in the late 1950s, he made some notable recordings, all with the George Lewis Band. On November 23, 1949, a party was held at 1111 Bourbon St. by jazz fan Herb Otto. George Lewis's full band was there, with other musicians and jazz fans present. Herb Otto and his friend Bob Greenwood had record labels and much of the music was recorded. On the American music label AMCD 74 "George Lewis's band at Herb Otto's party in 1949" you can hear the result. It's not high fidelity, but the music shines, it's very hot and our first chance to hear "Coo Coo" Elmer Talbert.
In May 1950, Dr. Edmond Souchon organized a George Lewis Band recording on behalf of the New Orleans Jazz Club. The understanding was that if Dr. Souchon could sell the record, George and the band would get the money. The recording took place at Filiberto's Music Store on Barracks Street. A hot, stuffy New Orleans day; Cold water, soda, beer and other good things were available with plenty of ice. George, the band's leader, kept strict control of the drinks, and the resulting music is undoubtedly one of the great classical jazz sessions in any style. It's your chance to listen to "George Lewis Jam Session" on AMCD 104. The whole band is fantastic, but Elmer Talbert's trumpet and his amazing vocal on "2.19 Blues" and "Pallet On The Floor" are Desert Island records for me. !
Just a few weeks later, on June 5, 1950, the George Lewis Band with "Coo Coo" on the trumpet made four tracks for the "Good Time Jazz" label. This was recorded in New Orleans and supervised by Jack Lewerke. In my opinion, this is one of the best qualities about George Lewis Band's sound and balance. I suppose there is a certain personal bias here, because this version of "Burgundy Street Blues" was played at my wedding with Diana Clark at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New Orleans. The CD is on Good Time Jazz L12005. GTCD 12005-2.
Finally, on Jazz Crusade JCCD 3054, an aerial recording of the George Lewis Band with Elmer Talbert. This was a Dixieland Clambake show in New Orleans in September and October 1950. Some excellent George Lewis and Jim Robinson here and, unfortunately, our last chance to hear Elmer on the trumpet.