Thomas Valentine, commonly known as Kid Thomas (3 February 1896 - 18 June 1987) was a jazz trumpeter and bandleader. Kid Thomas was born in Reserve, Louisiana and came to New Orleans in his youth. He gained a reputation as a hot trumpet man in the early 1920s. Starting in 1926 he led his own band, for decades based in the New Orleans suburb of Algiers, Louisiana. The band was long popular with local dancers. Kid Thomas had perhaps the city's longest lasting old-style traditional jazz dance band. Unlike many other musicians, Thomas was unaffected by the influence of Louis Armstrong and later developments of jazz, continuing to play in his distinctive hot, bluesy sometimes percussive style. He was always open to playing the popular tunes of the day (even into the rock & roll era) as he thought any good dance bandleader should do, but played everything in a style of a New Orleans dance hall of the early 1920s. Kid Thomas Valentine started attracting a wider following with his first recordings in the 1950s. His band played regularly at Preservation Hall from the 1960s through the 1980s. Thomas also toured extensively for the Hall, including a Russian tour, and was often a guest at European clubs and festivals, working with various local bands as well as his own. During the 1960s Kid Thomas recorded extensively for the Jazz Crusade label both with his own band and with Big Bill Bissonnette's Easy Riders Jazz Band. He made over 20 tours with the Easy Riders in the U.S. Northeast. Many of these recordings are now available on CD on the GHB or Jazz Crusade labels. In the mid 1980s, as Thomas's strength started to wane, Preservation Hall management brought in Wendell Brunious, at first as second trumpet; Brunious took over most of the trumpet playing in Thomas's final year or so, though Kid Thomas continued to lead the band, keep rhythm with a slap stick, and blow the occasional chorus if he was feeling up to it.
Following the discovery and subsequent recording of Bunk Johnson in the early 40s, attempts were made to seek out other long obscure local jazzmen and document their playing as well. Very few of these, however, have ever traveled much beyond southern Louisiana and even fewer had attained any recognition outside New Orleans. To the most dedicated of their fans and supporters, though, it never seemed to matter that many were past their prime. What mattered were their authenticity and their ability to evoke the sounds of a bygone era.
This CD being the second in a planned series of six (volume one is on STCD 6026) highlights the artistry of two such players, Kid Thomas and Louis Nelson. The band that accompanies Thomas and Nelson on these performances from the early 1970s does so with an understanding of the requirements of this form of jazz, which is no wonder when you consider that all of these men are deeply steeped in the New Orleans tradition.