Famous Creoles   Edward "Kid" Ory   Joe "King" Oliver   Armond J. Piron   Louis Armstrong   "Jelly Roll" Morton
The Mulatto Diary....a Triubute to Lena Horne


New Orleans Jazz
Hear his music


Louis Armstrong

is probably the most famous jazz musician that New Orleans ever produced.

He grew up in the same neighborhood as Mary Fritz, a young woman who worked for my mother-in-law. It was a really rough neighborhood and they called it "the bloody bucket."

Mary said people would sit on the front stop of the house, on the banquette, on Mardi Gras morning, watching the young people in the costumes, then somebody would yell "The Indians are coming!" and they would all run inside and bolt the doors.

The "Indians" were the African-American men who wore truly magnificent costumes of satin, beads and feathers. Everyone loved to see them, but by midmorning they were usually pretty well boozed up and aggressive, and the women didn't want to be around until the "Indians had passed by. I am sure those women must have been peeking through the "jalousies" (shutters) on their doors and windows while they passed.





Louis Armstrong's New Orleans




Knowing that background it was probably understandable that Louis got picked up for firing a revolver on New Year's Day. His grandmother was raising him and couldn't cope with that. Louis was sent to a boy's home called The Waif's Home, which was the best thing that ever happened to him.

He was able to have a cornet and to get some rudimentary instruction. He once said they had first given him a bugle and there was a little hole in the horn which made him blow hard, so he was always loud.

When he finally got a cornet (from Joe "King" Oliver), he could make a really big sound. After he could make it on his own, he gave a cornet to the school to someone else could use it. Most of the jazz musicians got their start in Storyville and so did Louis. He developed a solo style which was unique, and was lucky enough to work with "King" Oliver and "Kid" Ory. He played in both their bands at different times, and finally got his own band. His most famous song became "Hello Dolly."

Louis, called "Satchmo" for his big mouth (satchel mouth), was one of the earliest jazz musicians to produce a solo recording. He literally pulled jazz out of the amateur class of street corner players and introduced a new kind of inventive, improvisational music that was unique and powerful.

In addition to playing trumpet in a way few could match, he had a gravelly voice that was definitely unique. This double gift made for a winning combination that pleased audiences. He was always more of a genius than the average person realized, and he was a loveable clown.

Louis Armstrong was invited to be King Zulu one year, an integral part of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The parade was the traditional African component of the whole celebration. We always went to see Zulu's arrival as he came in on a yacht bedecked with all the colored streamers and banners a boat could carry. Added to the decorations were many symbols of African heritage and culture.

The Jahnke Company loaned them a couple of their barges, and they too were decorated for the occasion and carried the members of Zulu's court. The boats steamed up the New Basin Canal into the heart of the city.

Copyright French Creoles of America®, All Rights Reserved