Heading: Local 627 and the Early Jazz Bands
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Paul Banks Orchestra, c. 1925 MMF Photo Collection, #20-SW

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Paul Banks Band

Based in Kansas City, Kansas, the Paul Banks band provided a training ground for young musicians. Banks began his career as a drummer with the Western Imperial Brass Band. He switched to piano and toured the Midwest with minstrel and road shows traveling on vaudeville circuits. Banks returned to Kansas City and formed a six-piece band. Initially he faced little competition. "Bennie Moten was at the McHugh Dancing Academy at 15th and Paseo, and they were called the B.B.&D. [Orchestra] then," Banks recalled. "That was around 1918 when three pieces could draw a crowd. George E. Lee was singing around town, but hadn't gotten a band organized yet." Banks worked full-time for the Armour meat-packing plant, which impeded the band's ability to work during the week or tour regionally. Consequently, the band suffered from a constant turnover of personnel. The Paul Banks band persisted, but failed to develop into a professional organization on par with the Lee and Moten bands.

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