In 1946 saxophonist Percy Hughes returned from the military to his native Minneapolis and joined the Wold Chamberlain Navy Band, a/k/a the X-Navy Band, which up to that time had been led by Irv Williams. Williams left for New York and Hughes was elected to be the new leader. The band became known as Percy Hughes and His Orchestra, the most well-known jazz band in the Cities. Their first regular job was at the Treasure Inn in St. Paul. Frequent vocalists with the band were Percy’s wife Judy Perkins and Dickie Mayes. Jazz disk jockey Leigh Kamman promoted the group on his show, featuring them on remotes from venues like the Calhoun Beach Hotel and the Radisson downtown. The band also played at private parties and fraternal balls, many of which were advertised in the Minneapolis Spokesman. Other residencies were at Snyder’s Restaurant and the Flame Cafe, downtown Minneapolis. In 1956 he began a long stay at the Point in Golden Valley, until it burned down in 1973. From there he moved to the Kashmiri Room at the Ambassador Motor Inn on Highway 12 in St. Louis Park, where his trio played until 1982. All this time, Percy Hughes was a full-time mailman for 30 years, and he also was an avid tennis player, going on to win awards for coaching. Percy Hughes was a true force in Minneapolis jazz, and he’s not done yet! Read more about him in the book Sports and All That Jazz: The Percy Hughes Story by Jim Swanson (Nodin Press 2011).
Photos above from the 1970 book Minneapolis Negro Profile by Walter R. Scott, Sr.