“I Always Played Pretty Under Him”: The King Oliver Creole Jazz Band Centennial Celebration!

Anniversaries don’t come much bigger than this one, folks. 100 years ago today, on April 5, 1923, seven African American jazz musicians entered a ramshackle shed located near the railroad tracks in Richmond, Indiana and made their very first recordings for the Gennett label. Yes, for our purposes, we especially celebrate these historic sides because they represent the first time Louis Armstrong ever stepped in a recording studio, but this was also the debut of Lillian Hardin, Baby Dodds, Johnny Dodds, Honore Dutrey, Bill Johnson, and the man who led the band, Joe “King” Oliver.

Tributes have been pouring in to celebrate this important centennial (Lewis Porter is on part 3 over on his Substack, while John Edward Hasse published a great overview in the Wall Street Journal last Saturday, to name just two). It would be easy to just go song-by-song and say a few words about each and call it a day, but since this site relies on the Louis Armstrong Archives, we’ve dug up some rare audio and other unique gems to make this a tribute really worthy of a King.

Louis Armstrong’s copy of this photo of himself with Joe Oliver, taken in St. Louis, most likely in 1920. LAHM 1987.14.1370.

Last summer, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Armstrong leaving New Orleans to join Oliver with this post. Once in Chicago, Armstrong took his place in Oliver’s band at the Lincoln Gardens in July 1922, playing nightly with his mentor for almost nine full months before setting foot in the Gennett studio. Armstrong wrote a ton about Oliver, and especially the Lincoln Gardens days, in autobiographical manuscripts, letters, magazine articles, and his two published autobiographies, but he doesn’t seem to have written his thoughts down about the recording sessions. However, he did give his very honest and candid thoughts about the experience to a variety of interviewers and we’d like to kick things off with three such clips.

Some readers might be familiar with the 1950 Record Changer article “Joe Oliver is Still King,” “written” by Armstrong and later published in the 1999 anthology Louis Armstrong In His Own Words. I put “written” in quotes because almost everything in that packed July 1950 issue of the Record Changer was taken from a very long conversation Armstrong had at his home in April 1950 with the magazine’s editors, Bill Grauer and Orrin Keepnews. They brought a tape recorder but since not everyone had accesss to such equipment in 1950, a copy was made that stretched across 16 acetate-discs, averaging about 5 minutes a side for 32 sides. A full set was discovered by the late Stan King, who donated them to our Archives in 2013.

Thus, with the preamble out of the way, here is the segment of the conversation where Armstrong discusses the Gennett sides with Grauer and Keepnews, his words later transcribed and turned into the first-person story, “Joe Oliver is Still King”:

Louis Armstrong, interviewed by Bill Grauer and Orrin Keepnews for “The Record Changer,” April 1950.
LAHM 2013.70.7 and LAHM 2013.70.8

Because of the scratchy quality of the acetates, here’s a transcription, opening with Armstrong reminiscing about his first night in Chicago:

Armstrong: And I walked in there and said to Joe…
Grauer: You joined that night?
Armstrong: No, I just sit down and listened that night. Yeah.
Keepnews: Was that stuff really as much- as much better than it sounds on records as- as I think it must have been?
Armstrong: Yeah. Oh, sure. Well, the man was failing when he was making records.
Grauer: Well, not those Gennett records.
Lucille Armstrong: Well, in those days, records weren’t as perfect as they could have been.
Keepnews: I know that.
Armstrong: Yeah, well, I wouldn’t say that–well, well, not those Gennett records. He wasn’t- he wasn’t in his prime then, like he was before he sent for me. You have to realize that.
Grauer: He was failing…
Armstrong: See, now, when we made Gennett records- let me show you how powerful- how much stronger I was than Joe. The horn, you know them old horns. Joe would be right in it, blowing. And I had to stand at the door and play second trumpet!
Keepnews: Well, do you think maybe part of the reason he sent for you was because he was starting to go downhill?
Armstrong: Well, Lil seemed to think it because she told me, she say, “Well, after all, I mean, I don’t see why you should carry on like this. You know, it don’t make sense.” But I never did look at it that way. I wouldn’t dare…
Keepnews: And that was the reason, it was a big break for you.
Armstrong: And I never did try to over-blow Joe at no time when I played with him. And it wasn’t no show-up thing like a youngster would do today. You know what I mean? It wasn’t [makes a malicious noise, almost a growl]. It wasn’t that. He still played whatever he wanted to play, and I always played pretty under him. Yeah. Until I left Joe, I didn’t tear out.


Armstrong’s love and affection for Oliver is well-documented, so it might seem jarring at first to hear him outright state that his mentor was “failing” at the time of these sessions. Six years later, Armstrong sat down with Willis Conover in Washington D. C. to record five hours of programming for the Voice of America. Conover and Armstrong obviously talked some things out in advance and selected some records to be played, but on the air, the only voice heard was that of Armstrong’s. The full five hours can be streamed on the digital site of our friends at the University of North Texas, who administer the Conover collection, but the late George Avakian also donated a copy of the entire broadcast to our Archives in 1993 and we’re using that source for the following clip.

In it, Armstrong chose “Chimes Blues” to spin, a historic choice as not only was it recorded 100 years ago today, but it included Armstrong’s very first recorded solo. But as he talks about it, he again starts speaking with a tinge of regret about his recordings with Oliver. After spinning the entire record–which we’ve kept in the clip–Armstrong doubles down, lamenting that Oliver should have let him play more lead and take more solos because they would have helped the records sell more copies and Oliver would have gotten the credit since his name was on the label. Very astutely, Armstrong compares it to trumpeter Erskine Hawkins, who had a monster hit with “Tuxedo Junction”–a recording on which sideman Dud Bascomb took the trumpet solo. So Armstrong didn’t need his name on the records or the credit, he would have been happy to simply donate his talents to better serve Oliver and the sound of those records. Oliver–mostly–denied his protégé the opportunity, leading Armstrong to complain about what he considered a missed opportunity. Here’s the audio:

Louis Armstrong talks about recording with King Oliver and spins “Chimes Blues,” Voice of America, July 1956.
LAHM 1993.1.9

The sound quality is pristine in that clip, but a transcription always helps understand the unique instrument that’s Louis Armstrong’s voice so here’s a breakdown of the above sequence:

Louis Armstrong: “And you take- when I first joined Joe Oliver, 1922 in Chicago, see–well, I had been playing with Kid Ory’s band when he left New Orleans in 1918 with Jimmie Noone, the clarinet man. They went up, and I took Joe’s place, and finally he sent for me in 1922 to play second trumpet with him. And we start making records for the Gennett, and it shows you about the tonation, as I was explaining to you. My tone was so strong and I was a young boy there, twenty-two years old, you know, blowing, I was liable to blow the bulbs out of anything! Well, Joe, you know, he was getting up in age and he didn’t preserve his chops, well, not thinking of the days was coming to that extent, we just- in the early days, I’d notice how they’d just blow. Some of them would just hang around the Eagle Saloon all night, and then- and then, you know, get all full of that good whiskey to play them parades. And long about two or three o’clock in the afternoon, in that hot sun, some of them would drop dead- some of them cornet players, you know what I mean?”

Louis Armstrong: “So, I watched all that, and when I played this recording date with Joe Oliver for the Gennett the first time, they had to rearrange everything. Joe would be right in the mike with his trumpet and I had to stand waaaay at the door to play second trumpet. [LAUGHING] They blended, you know? So, this is a record here that I admire because it’s a beautiful thing and then, well, I’ll pat myself on the back because it was just a little, light solo, but I like the phrasing in it. This tune, ‘Chimes Blues,’ I thought it was very pretty.”


Louis Armstrong: Yeah, that’s my first trumpet solo, I’d say, up north from New Orleans, because I had just joined as Joe Oliver’s as second trumpet man. And there was Joe Oliver and myself, Honore Dutrey on trombone, Baby Dodds on drums, and Johnny Dodds, clarinet. And Lil Hardin who, formerly, you know, was my wife, she was on the piano. And Bill Johnson, who was with Freddie Keppard in the first Dixieland band that traveled the R.K.O. circuit, he was on bass, you see? And we’d go down and make these records. And the one thing that I figured that Joe Oliver missed the boat–but like they said, the old timers, they wasn’t thinking about things, like these records would be noticed today or something like that or else he would’ve had a better idea, knowing that my tone was stronger than his, see? I would never play over Joe because that’s the respect I had for him, you know? But if he would’ve thought of it, he’d let me play the lead. You notice all these records, you hear more harmony [SCATS] because his lead was weak. That’s why I had to get back to the door to play the second when he should’ve put me to play the lead, knowing that I had that first chair tone. And it would still have been Joe Oliver’s records but bigger, you know? Everybody’s savvy, but we can understand that. Now, if Joe was along today, he would see that. Like, your big name leaders and things and somebody like, uh, we’ll say, for instance, Erskine Hawkins’s ‘Tuxedo Junction.’ That was a big hit, but there’s a man in the band that played the trumpet solo and made the record a hit, see? Well, I thought that was wise of him to do that. It’s still his record, see. And in my estimation, Joe Oliver missed the boat, to that extent. See? Because there’s several records like ‘Chimes Blues’ and some record I made called ‘My Heart,’ and it’s a swing tune and the harmony and all the background, everybody’s wailing, but you don’t know what the tune is because Joe’s lead is overshadowed. And that’s why the older records, you probably- you- you put them aside because you don’t hear the lead, see? The minute you walk into Decca studios, there’s a woman there, looking up saying, ‘Where’s the melody?’ You know? [LAUGHING]

Louis Armstrong: “It’s too bad because that was my man, and he’ll be my idol. I think he’s one of the greatest creators that ever picked up a trumpet, or a cornet, or whatever it is. But it’s just the idea- they don’t believe in, in those days, in letting the youngster that’s coming up, you know, have his fair justice to the extent where we both could’ve been doing wonderful, see? It took me a long time to- to get recognition to the extent where we both could’ve been right there, because it would’ve been the greatest thing. Even this solo in ‘Chimes Blues’ sold this record- oh, a gang of them, you know? Just think of all the records I made with Joe Oliver on the Gennett and the OKeh, they’d all be priceless, which they are, you know, to an extent.”

Louis Armstrong scrapbook collage featuring an image of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band in the center.

Armstrong addressed the Oliver recordings in one more interview, though this one is more high profile and readily available. It took place during a 1963 conversation with Ralph J. Gleason on his Jazz Casual public television program. In those days, videos and films were far from commonplace, so Gleason’s people sent Armstrong a copy of the audio on reel-to-reel tape. On the broadcast, Gleason played the OKeh version of “Snake Rag” from June 1923 for Armstrong–this is the conversation that followed:

Louis Armstrong discusses recording with King Oliver on Ralph J. Gleason’s “Jazz Casual” in 1963.
LAHM 1987.3.643

RALPH GLEASON:  You know I’ve always wanted to ask you, it never was my pleasure to hear that band.  Do these records do that band justice?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well, I don’t know.  They did pretty good without the drums in those days, you know.
RALPH GLEASON:  Oh, they didn’t use the drums at all?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  They didn’t have no drums and then they didn’t have mics.  They just had one big horn.  You know, like-
RALPH GLEASON:  So they line you all up like on a bandstand or-
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well, we stood in front of this horn and played.  And any man that had a solo had to get in that horn or else he wouldn’t be heard, you know?   So that’s the advantage they have today, you know with the-
RALPH GLEASON:  Well you know when you played those breaks with Joe Oliver, were the two of you standing right in front of the horn?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  In front of the horn yeah, or else it wouldn’t have caught it.  Yeah, yeah.
RALPH GLEASON:  Had you played with Oliver before you came up to Chicago?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well, he used to come by Liberty and Perdido there where the Storyville, lightly, he used to come back in. I used to play in the Honky Tonk and he come from down in the Storyville  and come up there where I played because he got off at 12:00 at night and see, they threw the key away where I played, you know. He come up there and sit down and listen to me play, then he’d blow a few for me, you know, try to show me the right things.
RALPH GLEASON:  Well when he went on to Chicago, did you think he would send for you? 
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  No, at that time I had no idea he would.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Yeah, I was playing in the Tuxedo Brass Band and with Kid Ory, too and I just had left excursion boats in 1919 and I played with Kid Ory. Then around 1922 I was playing with the Tuxedo Brass Band, Celestin. And then that’s when King Oliver sent for me to play second trumpet with him at the Lincoln Gardens.
RALPH GLEASON:  And you were surprised?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Was I surprised? I was happy because nobody else get me out of New Orleans but him. I wouldn’t take that chance.
RALPH GLEASON:  But you hadn’t heard the band until-
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  I hadn’t heard the band until I got to Chicago.  Then when I heard them at the door, I said, “I’m not good enough for this band, I think I’ll go back.” Yeah, yeah, that was the highlight of, of, you know my biggest moments.
RALPH GLEASON:  Was this a different kind of band than bands that you had played with in New Orleans?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well it was the same setup, but see we didn’t have no pianos in New Orleans, we had guitars.  Lil was on the piano here.
RALPH GLEASON:  Was he using two cornets before you came up?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  No, just by himself.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  And I don’t know, the band was wailing there. I fit right in there with Joe because I admired him so anyway, you know?  
RALPH GLEASON:  Well did you, when you, when you first came in to hear the band, were they playing tunes that you knew?  
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well the usual Dixieland numbers in New Orleans because there was others that I didn’t know like these that would come up later, he wrote these.  But we played the usual “Panama” and things that we did in New Orleans you know?  With the blues and things like that.
RALPH GLEASON:  Now before you stared in with a band like that, with Joe’s band when you got to Chicago, did you have to rehearse with them, and-
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  I just went to work.
RALPH GLEASON:  You just went to work with them? Wow. 
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  I knew all the boys.  And their routine, you know?  And I just sit in there and went to work the next night. 
RALPH GLEASON:  Now when he would-
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  I played second trumpet to everything he played.
RALPH GLEASON:  Uh-huh. Just like that.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Second cornet at the time because we both was using cornets you know.
RALPH GLEASON:  Well now when you went in to make a record date like Snake Rag and had you been playing this tune?  Had you been, had you been-
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Not this one.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  This is one he made up for the Gennett record when he started making records and he started being a writer you know?  A lot of his stuff would come up later.
RALPH GLEASON:  Would you rehearse that then in the studio before you recorded it?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well we’d rehearse that on the job, you know.  By the time we get to the studio all they got to do is kind of cut it up and time it.  But no trouble at all you know, to make them records because they’d make one after another.  They wasn’t as particular as they was today you know?
RALPH GLEASON:  Well you don’t think you made mistakes in there do you?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well it ain’t that, but we could have had more lead.  See, we could have pushed Joe up or stand him out or we could have played a little softer so they have heard that lead. 
RALPH GLEASON:  Put a balance on it, yeah.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  That’s where you know, all them old records you lose that lead.  You see what I mean?  You notice when everybody got the blowing there, then the lead was gone.
RALPH GLEASON:  Now you spoke before about how they didn’t have the drums, Baby Dodds just played wood blocks.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  I doubt Baby was there on those dates.  They didn’t need him nowhere.
RALPH GLEASON:  They didn’t use drums at all regularly?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  No drums at all at that time, they were scared it’ll throw the needle off.  
RALPH GLEASON:  I see. Yeah.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  So we got by good. But only thing I have about those early recordings is that you didn’t get that lead much. Because you couldn’t tell Joe what to do.  He was the boss.
RALPH GLEASON:  Well now those breaks that you two took on there-
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Well yeah, I put notes to his lead, whatever he made, I just–we didn’t write it. 
RALPH GLEASON:  Did you rehearse it?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  No, it was spur of the moment.  He’d tell me, he’d tell me while the band is playing what he’s going to play [mimes playing trumpet]. And I’d figure out my notes. And that’s why all the musicians used to come around to hear us do that, you know. They thought that was our little secret way.
RALPH GLEASON:  You got everybody cool on that.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Yeah.  Bix, Louis Panico, Paul Whiteman, all the boys used to come around you know.  And they thought that was something.
RALPH GLEASON:  And he would change the things he was going to do from night to night.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Whatever he was going to do, he’d let me know about four, five bars ahead while the band was jumping you know?
RALPH GLEASON:  Was it, was it a different kind of excitement to play with this band coming up from New Orleans for you?  For the inspiration? 
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  That was a big thing for me.  Yes it was.  Because I admired Joe so much, you know.  For him to send for me, I thought that was something.
RALPH GLEASON:  Now did you get, in this band when you were playing second cornet to him, did you get to play solos all by yourself too?
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Oh, very seldom.  Like one or two records. I think it was ‘Chimes Blues’ or something like that.  But I never wanted to do nothing over Joe.
RALPH GLEASON: . Hm-hmm.  Did you sing at all?
RALPH GLEASON:  Not at that time? That came later.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Yeah.  Because he knew I was singing, but the main thing was the cornet playing with him.  I would sing in a little quartet and he knew all of that, you know.
RALPH GLEASON:  Was there any vocalist with the band?
RALPH GLEASON:  But then you made records shortly after that-
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  After that, yeah.
RALPH GLEASON:  …with vocalists, with Bessie Smith.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG:  Yeah, but that is when I went with Fletcher Henderson after I left Joe in 1924.

For those who would like to see this conversation, complete with emotional close-ups of Armstrong listening to his own music, here’s it is via YouTube:

So once again, in between all the praise for Oliver, there’s the regret about the lack of lead playing on the Oliver recordings, and a slightly rueful, “Because you couldn’t tell Joe what to do.  He was the boss.” But on one of his earliest private tapes from 1951, Armstrong sought out to rectify this issue.

The details of this tape are not fully known but I assume it’s from early 1951 and most likely recorded in Seattle, as Armstrong was spinning 78s from the collection of Lawrence Hardin, a relative of Lil, who lived in that city. Armstrong wasn’t a big 78 collector and only had most of the Oliver sides on bootleg records such as this one:

LAHM 1987.3.829

But on this particular tape, Armstrong–evidently backstage as one can hear trombonist Jack Teagarden warming up, in addition to the stated presence of valet, Doc Pugh–had some of Hardin’s original 78s, including “Tears,” recorded for OKeh in October 1923. This was a song that was credited to Louis and his soon-to-be-second-wife Lil (though on the tape, he claims that he was the sole composer), but on the record, it’s not exactly to pinpoint their (quite beautiful) melody. [Note: in the Voice of America interview above, Louis complains about a recording of the tune “My Heart” where you can’t tell what the melody but I believe he had “Tears” in mind as “My Heart” was one of his later Hot Five recordings.] Thus, to illustrate the difference in recording techniques and what these recordings could sound like with a little more lead, Armstrong picks up his trumpet and plays along with the record!

We’ve shared this immortal moment before in our post on Armstrong warming up, but we must share it again. Though the sheer power of Armstrong’s 1951 trumpet tone overwhelms his recorder’s microphone, it’s worth listening to for the power and the passion he puts into this performance, not to mention the mind-bending sequence when the 1951 Armstrong sets up the 1923 Armstrong on a series of breaks!

We’re including an extended version of this tape as, after Louis plays along with “Tears,” he spins the record again (and it’s true that, at least on this tape transfer, Oliver’s lead almost completely vanishes), then follows with “Buddy’s Habits” and one of the April 5 sides, “I’m Going Away to Wear You Off My Mind,” which inspires Armstrong to reminisce about Honore Dutrey’s asthma. Here’s the audio:

Louis Armstrong plays along with “Tears” and spins other King Oliver recordings, c. 1951.
LAHM 1987.3.210
One of Armstrong’s final reel-to-reel tape box collages, made in the summer of 1971 with a photo of himself with the Oliver band in 1923.
LAHM 1987.3.329

Louis obviously mentioned Oliver on numerous other tapes and other interviews, but the above samples represent the most detailed discussions of the recordings we’re celebrating the centennial of today. However, it’s definitely worth adding another voice to the celebration: that of Lillian Hardin Armstrong.

One year after Armstrong’s Voice of America broadcast in 1956, ex-wife Lil sat down and recorded her memories of the Gennett recordings, issued on a Riverside LP as Satchmo and Me. Interestingly, this was issued during a time when Louis and Lil weren’t speaking to each other. In 1955, Louis and Lil were in Europe together when Lil shared the story of Oliver telling her that he was more or less holding Louis back, saying, “As long I keep [Louis] with me, he won’t be able to get ahead of me, I’ll still be the king.” In a fit of seemingly misplaced anger, Louis took his frustration out on Lil and they didn’t speak for almost a decade. But at some point, a copy of Satchmo and Me ended up in Louis’s reel-to-reel tape collection. Here is a watermarked edit of this moment, along with Lil’s reflections about how far away Louis had to stand from Oliver in the Gennett studio:

Excerpt from Lil Hardin Armstrong’s “Satchmo and Me.”
LAHM 1987.3.561

It appears that Louis didn’t really listen to Lil’s record until 1969, but once he did, he dubbed it two more times to his tape collection. In August 1970, Louis wrote a letter to biographer Max Jones, answering a series of questions Jones had sent him for his future biography, Louis. Before sending it, Louis read the letter into his tape recorder, relating the incident and giving Lil all the credit for being in his corner at all times:

Louis Armstrong, letter to Max Jones, August 15, 1970.
LAHM 1987.3.424

Here’s the transcription:

Louis Armstrong: And this Joe- Joe Oliver? You know how much I love Joe Oliver, regardless of all that other crap but still in all, he did make a statement to Lil during a conversation. He said, “As long as Little Louis is with me, he can’t hurt me.” Right away Lil got to–oh, god. Right away Lil got behind me when she told me this and said–mm. When she told me that, that did it. “With a thought like that in King Oliver’s mind, as much as you idolize him,”–that’s what she said. “As much as you idolize him, daddy, you must leave him immediately because King Oliver and his ego and wounded vanities make hurt and may hurt your pride.” And to me, she said, “It’s all indications that King Oliver’s trying to hold you back.” Yes sir. I must be very quiet because I didn’t say a mumbling word. I didn’t may a mumbling word. Even after she told me, I didn’t say nothing. I just split, that’s all. Lil spoke and that was it. And I don’t regret it today. It proved all indications that the woman was in my corner at all times.

But even with those bruised feelings and the regrets about not being featured more on their recordings, Armstrong never let Oliver out of his mind as his inspiration. He made this point literally in a collage from the early 1950s where Armstrong taped a photo of himself to a page and surrounded it with people he admired: Bunny Berigan, Bix Beiderbecke, Judy Garland, Duke Ellington, Big Sid Catlett, Jack Teagarden, Bing Crosby, Jelly Roll Morton, Florence Mills, Ruth Brown, even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But placed directly in the center of his brain? King Oliver.

LAHM 1987_08_20_002

Those tapes, plus the scrapbook pages, collages, and photos spread across this post represent the rarest archival materials we have of Armstrong chronicling his recordings with Oliver, but we should close with a few words about the music recorded on this date. This music has been transferred and transferred and transferred again over the past 100 years and it seems like every listener has their preference for which mastering sounds the best. Honestly, nothing on the streaming sites is as good as the jobs John R. T. Davies and Doug Benson did in the C.D. era, but their reissues are not streaming.

However, Brad Kay to the rescue! During the pandemic, Los Angeles-based collector/historian/engineer/pianist/composer Brad Kay took a stab at creating new transfers of the nine sides recorded for Gennett in April 1923 and personally, I think his are the finest-sounding versions to date. With the help of Dustin “Exponent_of_sock” Wittmann, all of Brad’s transfers are live on YouTube–and here they are in the order they were recorded 100 years ago!

First, the April 5 sides, beginning with “Just Gone” (written by Joe Oliver and Bill Johnson):

“Canal Street Blues” (written by Joe Oliver and Louis Armstrong):

“Mandy Lee Blues” (written by Marty Bloom and Walter Melrose):

“I’m Going Away to Wear You Off My Mind” (written by Lloyd Smith, Warren Smith, and Clarence Johnson):

“Chimes Blues” (written by Joe Oliver, and again, featuring Louis Armstrong’s first recorded solo):

The April 6 session began with “Weather Bird Rag” (written by Louis Armstrong):

“Dipper Mouth Blues” (written by Joe Oliver and Louis Armstrong):

“Froggie Moore” (written by Reb Spikes, John Spikes, and Jelly Roll Morton):

And finally, “Snake Rag” (written by Joe Oliver):

If that’s not all–and if you’re still with us–we’ll close with a little lagniappe as they say in New Orleans. In late 2022, I, Ricky Riccardi, Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum, appeared on WKCR’s “Hot Club on the Air,” hosted by Matthew “Fat Cat” Rivera, denizen of the Hot Club of New York and current Consulting Archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum. We knew the Oliver centennial was coming up and wanted to celebrate it together on WKCR–but once we got going, we couldn’t stop and ate up two three-hour blocks of time for a total of six hours – devoted to the Creole Jazz Band! We played every single side from 1923 plus some bonus material related to the sessions and Armstrong and Oliver’s post-KOCJB output.

If you’d like to download copies of both shows to listen at your leisure, head over to the Hot Club of New York’s “Radio” page for the links to those and a whole lot more. But since you’re already hear, we’ll close with the audio of both shows, opening with Part 1, originally broadcast on October 24, 2022:

King Oliver Tribute Part 1, on “Hot Club on the Air,” WKCR, October 24, 2022

And here’s Part 2, originally broadcast on December 19, 2022:

King Oliver Tribute Part 2, on “Hot Club on the Air,” WKCR, December 19, 2022

Here’s a photo from the second episode so you can associate the voices with the faces; I’m holding Laurie Wright’s King Oliver bio-disography and Matthew’s holding an Oliver OKeh 78:

Matt and I have done our part, so now it’s up to you–go forth and spread the glories of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, and the timeless music created 100 years ago today!

Published by Ricky Riccardi

I am Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

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