Editor, Webmaster: Phil Cartwright Editor@earlyjas.org
|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
Additions, comments, corrections,
contributions to Bill Fuller %Earlyjas, or
In Tune March 2005
Lillian Hardin was the piano player in Joe "King" Oliver's Creole Jazz Band at the Lincoln Gardens in
Chicago before Louis Armstrong was called up from New Orleans in 1922. Of course, Louis took Chicago
by storm with this band and he also made a strong impression on the piano player. In 1924, Louis, who
had already been married once, married Lil Hardin. Lil was a classically- trained pianist and a competent
jazz player - and she recognized talent. She was very ambitious for her new husband and pushed him to
ever new and greater musical accomplishments. She helped him with his sight-reading and made him
practice lengthy repetitions of various high notes. In the summer of '24, she persuaded him to leave the
Oliver band for a job at the Dreamland Cafe. That fall, Fletcher Henderson offered Louis a job with his
More than her piano playing and her marriage of over seven years to Louis, Lil Hardin's most enduring
claim to fame may be that she composed or collaborated on a number of tunes that have become jazz
KING OF THE ZULUS - (1926)- words and music by Lil Hardin-Armstrong who also wrote "Hotter than
That". The tune was popularized by Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five, a group that never played
anywhere outside of a recording studio but became legendary nonetheless. Title refers to an individual
selected from one of the many New Orleans social clubs to lead the Mardi Gras parade.
MY HEART - (1925) - by Lil Hardin-Armstrong who also wrote "I'm Not Rough.” This tune was included
in the first Hot Five session of November 12, 1925. It was the first recording that bore the name of Louis
Armstrong as the leader. There were more recording sessions with the Hot Five as well as a later
augmentation as the Hot Seven.
PAPA DIP - (1926) - by Lil Hardin-Armstrong who also wrote "Jazz Lips." This tune was first recorded in
July of 1926, by the New Orleans Wanderers, a group led by clarinetist Johnny Dodds. Lil died in 1971,
while playing "St. Louis Blues" at a Louis Armstrong tribute concert, less than two months after Louis died.
STRUTTIN' WITH SOME BARBECUE - (1927) - by Lil Hardin-Armstrong who also wrote "Knee Drops."
This tune was first recorded by Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five in 1927, on the Columbia label. Because
of the musical difference between this tune and other tunes Lil wrote, some critics believe Louis actually
composed it. In any case, Lil won a lawsuit against Louis over it copyright - so, her name goes on it.
A note from your Editor. . .
In the early 1960’s, I played in a band with several young white guys. We landed a gig playing opposite a
very well established mature group of African-American New Orleans jazz players. The gig was Friday
and Saturday nights at the Red Arrow in Cicero/Stickney, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Thursday nights,
Lil Hardin had a five piece band at the same club. She invited a few of us to drop by and sit in. It was
great fun — she was a great lady and treated us youngsters with respect and dignity, all the while
encouraging us. (Phil Cartwright)
|for Jazz Advancement and Socialization