Like Miles Davis, this jazz player hailed from East St. Louis, on the Illinois side of the mighty Mississippi. Like Charlie Parker, Horace Eubanks wound up in a mental institution, though the latter reed player's stay was considerably longer. Unlike either of these household names, Eubanks is basically an obscurity, although it has to be said that he got around. His professional tracks go back to the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, when he was performing in Vancouver with Jelly Roll Morton. Eubanks' subsequent list of affiliations touches on both the Chicago jazz scene and the American expatriate movement in Europe in the early '30s. Following a period with the superb Charlie Creath in St. Louis, Eubanks kicked off his own Dixie Strutters outfit, based out of Chicago. Other early milestones in the reedman's career include working with the Doc Watson of Chicago, not to be confused with the fingerpicker of the same name from North Carolina. In 1928, Eubanks teamed up with violinist Wilson Robinson and the following year was off to Europe in the company of Benny Payton.
In the early '30s Eubanks was associated with Willie Lewis, a leader who came up with regular opportunities abroad for players who were having trouble keeping busy in their homeland. But by 1934 Eubanks was back in Chicago, eventually playing in drummer Zutty Singleton's band. In the second half of this decade, Eubanks headed back to St. Louis, working with both Creath and an excellent outfit assembled by Fate Marable. By all reports the '40s were not kind to Eubanks. He became seriously ill and was apparently a resident of the Missouri State Mental Hospital in the '40s, which is where the jazz fans lost track of him. ~ Eugene Chadbourne