Albert Vincent “Fernandez” Walters was a traditional jazz pianist, cornetist, and trumpet player from New Orleans. Remembered as a long-term member of the George Williams Brass Band and Young Tuxedo Brass Band, Walters would also replace “Wooden” Joe Nicholas in his Camellia Band, a group with whom Walters played for many years. Walters’s musical work is perhaps best showcased on the Young Tuxedo Brass Band’s 1950s Atlantic Records album, Jazz Begins.
Walters was born on July 19, 1905, in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. From a musical Creole family, Walters got his nickname, “Fernandez,” from his stepfather’s father, Panistat Fernandez. Walters began his musical career as a pianist playing for house parties. In the 1920s he began playing in bands with Kid Howard and, later, Henry James “Red” Allen, with whom he played for a few years in the rowdy bars along the Decatur Street waterfront in New Orleans.
While playing piano in “Wooden” Joe Nicholas’s Camellia Band, Walters finally switched from piano to trumpet, the instrument that would garner him local notoriety. The Camellia Band also included banjo player John Smith. Taking lessons on trumpet from Professor Paul Chaligny and Manuel Perez, Walters replaced Nicholas in the Camellia Band after Nicholas’s retirement. Walters spent time learning to read music while playing with David Jones for dance hall jobs and gigs at nearby lake resorts, and he played on occasion with Albert Jiles at a venue located at Bienville and Dauphine Streets. In 1931, along with Jiles, Walters organized the Crescent City Serenaders, a group that was active throughout the Great Depression.
Walters played with many of the leading brass bands in the city during his career. In the early 1930s he was a member of the Tulane Brass Band, followed by the George Williams Brass Band. Walters also played with the Young Tuxedo Band and was part of that John Casimir-led group in the late 1950s, when the band recorded its classic album, Jazz Begins, for Atlantic. Other musicians on that recording were Andrew Anderson (trumpet), Paul Barbarin (snare drums), Andrew Morgan (tenor sax), and Wilbert Tillman (sousaphone). Toward the end of Walters’s career, he occasionally performed at Preservation Hall, usually as a replacement player for Alvin Alcorn.
Walters died on October 20, 1980, in New Orleans.
Author: Holly Hobbs
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Hobbs, Holly "Albert Fernandez Walters." In knowlouisiana.org Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published December 4, 2013. http://www.knowlouisiana.org/entry/albert-fernandez-walters.
Hobbs, Holly "Albert Fernandez Walters" knowlouisiana.org Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 4 Dec 2013. Web. 22 Jun 2018.
Borenstein, Larry, and Bill Russell. Preservation Hall Portraits. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968.
Knowles, Richard. Fallen Heroes: A History of New Orleans Brass Bands. New Orleans: Jazzology Press, 1996.
Newhart, Sally. The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band: More than a Century of a New Orleans Icon. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
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“Albert Fernandez Walters.” Oral history transcripts. January 5, 1959; July 15, 1974. Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University, New Orleans.
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