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Narvin Kimball, banjo player for New Orleans band

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Narvin Kimball, the last founding member of the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band who was known for his vocal stylings and banjo playing, died Friday. He was 97.

Mr. Kimball died at his daughters' home, where he and his wife, Lillian, had been staying since shortly after Hurricane Katrina, according to the band's publicist and the local coroner.

Mr. Kimball's vocal renditions of ''Georgia on My Mind" always brought standing ovations, said hall director Ben Jaffe, whose parents founded the Preservation Hall in 1961.

''He was really our last connection to a bygone time in the history of New Orleans," Jaffe said by telephone from New Orleans.

Mr. Kimball was the son of bassist Henry Kimball, and he made his first banjo with a cigar box, stick, and string. He began playing professionally in the 1920s on Mississippi riverboats with the Fate Marable Band. He made his first Columbia Records recording in 1928.

Mr. Kimball formed his own band, Narvin Kimball's Gentlemen of Jazz, and played around New Orleans for 40 years. He also worked for 37 years with the US Postal Service. It was on his mail rounds that he broached the idea of his band playing at the hall.

Mr. Kimball last played with the band in 1999 in a PBS performance. Not long afterward, Jaffe said, he suffered a series of strokes that ended his banjo playing.

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