An important component of early jazz in New Orleans was the plentiful work for musicians on riverboats, as seen in a remarkable online exhibit from Tulane University's Hogan Jazz Archive. Great photos of and information about some of the best and most important early jazz bands, under direction of bandleaders like Fate Marable, whose career was almost entirely riverboat-related (he made just one fantastic record for Okeh in 1924), and Oscar ‘Papa’ Celestin, whose Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra ran in some form from 1910 to the early ‘30s. Many of the important early jazz figures passed through the ranks of one or both of these bands: King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Ladnier, Baby Dodds, Johnny Dodds, Red Allen, Pops Foster, Johnny St. Cyr, Zutty Singleton, etc. More info and Real Audio samples can be found at the Red Hot Jazz Archive.
The above photo of Papa Celestin’s band was taken not long before the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra made the bulk of its recordings for Okeh in 1927, and many of the musicians pictured are the ones who appear in the recordings. (That's Papa third from left.)