Perhaps the sole New Orleans jazz instrumentalist to mess around with the dreaded oboe, Lorenzo Tio came from a musical family and is sometimes credited with a "junior" at the end of his name in order to acknowledge the existence of his father. Both father and son's main axe was the clarinet, as was uncle Luis Tio. The junior
Tio's influence on this instrument spread far beyond his own family once he began teaching: he has a few fingers in some of the most important stylists on clarinet to emerge in subsequent generations. Barney Bigard, one of the greatest musicians to ever stay put in the Duke Ellington band, was one of Tio's students, as were also Jimmie Noone, Albert Nicholas and Johnny Dodds.
Tio gigged in legendary New Orleans large ensembles such as the Lyre Club Syphony Orchestra during the late 19th century. From there he branched out into smaller combos including traditional brass bands. Prior to the Roaring Twenties the clarinetist was already on tour, heading for Chicago with bandleader Manuel Perez in 1916. Meanwhile he had a continuing collaboration with the famed Papa Celestin whenever Tio was back in the Big Easy. After 1918 Tio was also performing with Armand Piron, a relationship which continued for a decade, as well as shorter involvements with groups such as the Tuxedo Brass Band.
Despite Tio's strong ties to New Orleans, he was also associated quite regularly with the New York jazz scene. Steamboats running between the state capitol in Albany at the Big Apple provided one of his regular bandstands. During the late '20s and early '30s, Tio had a regular stint at The Nest Club in New York City. Recorded documentation of this artist is not overwhelming in quantity, yet does include several excellent collections of work by pianists and composers Jelly Roll Morton and Clarence Williams and fellow reed player Sidney Bechet.