Achille Baquet, the notable jazz clarinetist and saxophone player, stands on a chair as he plays with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Credit: Courtesy Wayne Baquet

The talented clarinetist and saxophone player Achille Joseph Baquet died on November 20, 1955. Baquet was a member of several jazz bands and orchestras throughout his career. 

Baquet was born in New Orleans on November 15, 1885, the son of Leocadie Marie Martinez and Theogene Baquet. Theogene was a cornetist, music teacher and leader of the popular Excelsior Brass Band. Baquet’s younger brother, clarinetist George Baquet, was also a well-known musician and music teacher in New Orleans. Among George Baquet’s students was Sidney Bechet.

While his brother and father spent their careers working with and teaching other African American jazz musicians in New Orleans, Baquet’s fair skin allowed him to pass for white. He played with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, an all-white ensemble established in the early 1900s. The band was widely known for recording what was considered the first jazz record, “Livery Stable Blues.”  

According to, Baquet also played with the Original New Orleans Jazz Band, Papa Jack Laine’s Reliance Orchestra, the Happy Schilling Dance Orchestra, and perhaps the Whiteway Jazz Band, although the actual identity of the Whiteway Jazz band members is still unknown.

He is credited with writing and arranging the songs, “Why Cry Blues” and “Ole Miss.” In an interview, Papa Jack Laine said that Baquet was the actual composer behind “Tiger Rag,” a popular jazz standard often played during college football games.

During his career, Baquet spent time in New York and Los Angeles. He died in Los Angeles on November 20, 1955 at the age of 70.

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Shannon Stecker is a creative writer, a marketing director, and a lover of stories. She has spent the past 15 years of her career in a creative space – as a print and broadcast journalist, a freelance...