64 Parishes

Albert Jiles

Albert Jiles was a traditional and brass band drummer who performed regularly at Preservation Hall in New Orleans.

Albert Jiles

Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum

Albert Jiles. Haberman, S. P. (Photographer)

Albert Jiles was a traditional jazz and brass band drummer from New Orleans. In the final years of his life, Jiles regularly performed at Preservation Hall with Billie and Dede Pierce. He enjoyed a long and successful music career in New Orleans, playing with such musicians as Chris Kelly, Isaiah Morgan, Kid Rena, George Lewis, and Papa Celestin.

Jiles was born on November 7, 1905, in Thibodaux, into a musical family: he was the nephew of well-regarded jazz musician Clay Jiles. Albert’s father, Albert Jiles Sr., was a drummer in fiddler Joe Gabriel’s jazz band, which was based in Thibodaux.

Jiles’s first professional gig was with pianist Herman Weiss. In the 1920s, Jiles joined a group that included Lawrence Toca and then moved on to a regular job with trumpeter Chris Kelly. Kelly was originally from Plaquemines Parish, and—like so many others from the more rural parishes outside of New Orleans—faced varying degrees of racism upon moving to the city.

During the Depression, Jiles performed often with Kid Howard’s band as well as in Sam Morgan’s Jazz Band. In the early 1940s, Jiles worked with Papa Celestin. When that ensemble broke up, he moved on to gigs with Kid Clayton and Captain John Handy.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Jiles formed and led the Albert Jiles Original Creole Stompers, a group that included Louis Nelson, Herb Morand, Austin Young, Albert Burbank, and Johnny St. Cyr. The Stompers enjoyed success as an in-demand dance band. Bill Russell would record Jiles in 1949.

The dawn of the 1960s was perhaps the most prolific time of Jiles’s career, as that period saw fruitful collaborations with trombonist Albert Warner’s band, a septet that included Kid Sheik Colar (trumpet), Charlie Love (trumpet), Emile Barnes (clarinetist), Ernest Roubeleau (banjo), and Papa John Joseph (bass). A later version of the group included Louis James (clarinet, violin), Emanuel Paul (tenor saxophone), Eddie Summers (trombone), and Emanuel Sayles (banjo).

The early 1960s also found Jiles and Charlie Love joining forces to form the Love-Jiles Ragtime Orchestra. Together they performed throughout the region and released a number of classic recordings, including “Shake It and Break It,” “C. C. Rider,” and “High Society.” Jiles was recorded for the Riverside Records’ Living Legends series in 1961 and played regularly with Billie and Dede Pierce at Preservation Hall until his death on September 3, 1964, in New Orleans.