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Milton Batiste, Jr: 1934-2001
Milton Batiste, Jr
Trumpet, bandleader

Born: September 5, 1934 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Died: March 29, 2001 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Charismatic Leader of Olympia Band

Copyright © 2001 


Milton Batiste became the driving force behind the famous Olympia Brass Band in New Orleans. His high note trumpet style and showmanship were a familiar part of the band’s performances. He joined the group, which had been resurrected three years before by Harold Dejan, in 1963, and was still playing in a cut-down version at New Orleans’s famous Preservation Hall until failing health caused him to quit last year.

He was brought up in a large family in the city. Attracted by the community marching bands he heard as a kid, he began to play trumpet in high school. One of his earliest gigs was with professor Longhair’s band, The Shuffling Hungarians. His bold, energised playing and flamboyant style brought him regular R ‘n’ B gigs, including stints with Little Richard, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Big Joe Turner, and Champion Jack Dupree.

After joining the Olympia in 1963, he gradually took over the running of the band. The revival of interest in New Orleans music saw the group regularly travel to Europe (and also to Africa and China) to perform, led by Batiste, often playing his horn in one hand and a tambourine with the other.

He encouraged the development of the music not only by his own example, but also by attracting youngsters to a junior version of the band, the Young Olympians. He also launched a record label, Dubat Records, aimed at recording new bands.

He performed at Preservation Hall until diabetes and heart trouble forced him to retire. He is survived by his wife, Ruth, and two children.

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With 5 reader comments, latest December 23, 2008