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A Note on Ernest "Doc" Paulin, Trumpet BORN: Wallace, Louisiana,June 16,1906 Provided constant work throughout the years to many young musicians Doc Paulin moved to New Orleans in the same year he started to play the trumpet, 1912. He formed his first band in 1928 and continued to lead nonunion brass bands, mainly at uptown parades , for an incredible seventy years or so. Many well-known musicians worked for DocPaulin in their younger days: Tuba Fats, Flo Anckle, Gregg Stafford, Michael White, and Big Al Carson among them. But as time went on and Doc's six sons were able to play well enough, the band becameincreasingly a familyaffair. Edgar Smith, tuba player, recalled, "Instead of paying us twenty dollars, Doc could pay his kids ten dollars and tell them to go to bed." Michael White, clarinet player, said of his early introduction to brass band Doc Paulin, 2001 Photo by Brian Wood When I first started playing, music in the brass bands was still all traditional, and you would have sometimesthousands of people following theseparades for hours and hours. And there was such a tremendous spirit and sense of abandon in theseparades, likeyou were being a part of more than just people parading and music. The only thing that I've seen that I would parallel it to is some of the things I've studied and read about in West Africa. Strangely enough, a friend of the family had given us a few records . The first traditional record I heard was the Young Tuxedo Brass Rand,Jazz Begins. I started playing along with that, and that was my introduction to brass band music. I had a friend at school, Big Al Carson —he was playing tuba at that time with Doc Paulin. We used to talk 170 MUSIC MUSIC Curtis Mitchell (bass), Michael White (clarinet) Photo by Peter Nissen about it at Xavier University, and I said, "Man, I'd like to do that kind of thing. Maybe you could talk to them and see if I could get into that." The New OrleansJazz and Heritage Festival came up. DocPaulin's band was playing, and I met him there. I told him I was interested in playing. I gave him my phone number, and about two weeks later, he called me. Doc Paulin's a great teacher, in the sense that he taught a lot of the musical , as well as the spiritual and professionalvalues. Alot of guys saw him as just somebody who used to fuss all the time, and make you do stuff. They saw him just like a policeman-type character. For example, when you had a job with Doc, you didn't go to where the job was; you went to his house, and he would take you. He was guaranteeing punctuality. He demanded that, whether you were playing in the worst neighborhoods or parades on Canal Street, that you had clean and pressedclothes, blackpants, clean white shirt, solid black tie (notpolka-dot, not striped), white band cap, and clean shoes. He inspectedyou—if you weren't right, he might send you home. You're going back to values of the music. I think for a lot of musicians (although there are a lot of examples to the contrary) playing was a way of getting people to pay attention to you—it was a step up. Alot of people were very proud to be musicians. How you dressed and how you conductedyourA NOTE ON ERNEST "DOC" PAULIN, TRUMPET IjI self reflected on you,aswell as how you performed. To reflect high standards of professionalism, a lot of musicians insisted on strict uniformity. On manyjobs we went on, peoplewould comment abouthowgood the band looked, and that seemed to help businessa lot.In pictures, bands that dressed alike just seemed to be more impressive than if theyjust dressed any kind of way, in different outfits. Doc Paulin inherited and passed along that ethic. Doc Paulin's musical heritage lives on today in the New Wave BrassBand, which includes Aaron Paulin on bass drum, Phillip Paulin on trumpet, Scott and Dwayne Paulin on trombones, Ricky Paulin on clarinet, and Roddy Paulin on alto saxophone. The tuba player is Ronell Johnson, who's related to the family by marriage. KEEPING THE BEAT ON THE STREET 172 ...


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