Lil Hardin was only 18 years old when she began to play with Sugar Johnnie’s New Orleans Creole Orchestra in 1917. Within a few years she had established such acclaim that she was invited to join what was to become the most influential and important jazz band of early jazz, Kid Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. It was in this band that Lil Hardin-Armstrong met her future husband, a very young and relatively inexperienced Louis Armstrong. They married shortly prior to their exit from Kid Oliver’s band. It was in fact Lil Hardin that convinced Louis Armstrong to leave Oliver’s band to pursue more ambitious things. Louis was quite reluctant at first, since Oliver had acted as a mentor to him early in his career, however he decided to quit Oliver's band in late 1924. This allowed Armstrong to start his solo career with his band “The Hot Five”. This band included Lil Hardin-Armstrong on piano and the recordings of this band are widely considered to be among the finest in jazz music.
Lil was not only a great supporting pianist for her then husband, she also led her own bands including the Hot Shots ( a pseudonym for Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five), and The New Orleans Wanderers. This post’s song, is from Lil’s New Orleans Wanderers. It was comprised from the members of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, but due to contractual reasons Satchmo was replaced with a relatively unknown cornet player named George Mitchell. The title of the song is the Perdido Street Blues. It was recorded on the 7-13-1926 for Columbia records. It begins with a solo by Johnny Dodds on clarinet, while the rhythm section makes short bursts of action in the background. Dodds’s solo is followed by a solo by George Mitchell on cornet. This time the rhythm plays continuously in the background. The solo by Mitchell has a very strong blues tinge, and while it is not up to the same standard as Armstrong, it is more than sufficient. After Mitchell’s solo, Dodds comes back in, screeching with a long sustained note. Dodds was definitely on fire for this recording, and plays an excellent second solo. The rhythm section maintains a constant repeating phrase in the background, with only slight variation in tone, this I believe allows the listener to more effectively listen to the soloing that occurs on top of their rhythm. After Dodds’ second solo, the rhythm section takes over and after a short solo by trombonist Kid Ory, the band plays all together and the song comes to an end.