Louis “Prez” Cottrell, Jr. (1911-1978) was a Louisiana Creole jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist. He was the son of the pioneering drummer, Louis Cottrell, Sr. Louis studied under Lorenzo Tio, Jr. and was one of the last of Tio’s students to achieve fame. Some of Tio’s other students included Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, Omer Simeon, Jimmie Noone, Albert Nicholas and Barney Bigard, who would later instruct the younger Cottrell when Tio was set to travel to Chicago. Tio thought it was time for the younger Cottrell to start associating more with the younger musicians of his day.
Cottrell began his professional career in 1925 with the Golden Rule Band and would later join bands headed by Paul Barnes and Sidney Desvignes. In 1929, Cottrell was invited to join the Don Albert Orchestra, and was traveling throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Cottrell eventually became the band’s manager. While with the Albert Orchestra, Cottrell wrote “You Don’t Love Me” (True), a song that ascended to the top 5 on the R & B charts when recorded by Paul Gayten. Cottrell returned to New Orleans after a 10 year stint with Albert, and joined A.J. Piron. He became a union activist in 1928 and was subsequently elected President of the Musicians Union, Local 174 in 1956.
In 1961, Riverside Records highlighted Cottrell in their “Living Legends” series. The 1960’s also saw the reincarnation of the Onward Brass Band by Paul Barbarin and Louis Cottrell. Their fathers had each performed in the original band at the turn of the Century. In 1967 Cottrell was chosen for a U.S.O. tour to entertain the troops in Vietnam. In 1971 Louis Cottrell formed the Heritage Hall Jazz Band. He performed at Carnegie Hall and appeared on numerous national television shows including the Mike Douglas Show, the Today Show and Perry Como’s Spring in New Orleans. Cottrell was also featured on the soundtrack Pretty Baby.
Louis Cottrell Trio
Founder, Heritage Hall Jazz Band
Co-Founder of the revised Onward Brass Band
America Federation of Musicians, Union President, Local 174