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Pretty Lil

Jelly Roll Morton & His Orchestra


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Dedicated to Lil Hardin


Recorded in New York City on July 9th 1929 featuring Boyd 'Red' Rosser and David Richards trumpets, Charlie Irvis trombone, George Baquet clarinet, Paul Barnes soprano sax, Walter Thomas alto sax, Joe Thomas tenor sax, Jelly Roll Morton piano & leader, Barney Alexander banjo, Harry Prather tuba, and William Laws drums.

"Pretty Lil" was composed by Jelly Roll Morton in honor of female jazz pianist Lil Hardin Armstrong.

Lil had first met Jelly Roll as a teen while she was working at a Chicago music store where she demonstrated sheet music. Morton frequented the store and played his style for her which she came to adopt(for a while being known as the female Jelly Roll Morton)and the two remained friends while both worked in Chicago. Morton had in fact started his "Red Hot Peppers" band from Lil's disbanded "Dixieland Syncopators" in 1926.

Lil Hardin was Louis Armstrong's second wife, they were married from 1926-1938 and had met in 1921 while both played in "King Olivers Creole Jazz Band". Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong had collaborated on Wildman Blues in 1926 with Morton recording the song on the Bluebird label in 1927 while Louis Armstrong recorded the tune with his Hot Seven" in May of the same year for Okeh. The pianist for that Hot Seven session was none other than Lil Hardin Armstrong.

Lil was the most famous woman of early jazz and was hired as a jazz pianist for her first gig at age seventeen playing in the male dominated world of tough and seedy clubs on Chicago's notorious South Side. She not only held her own but had eight different orchestras of her own from 1925-1950 remaining active as a jazz musician until her death in 1971. Lil appeared on Broadway in "Hot Chocolates", cut twenty-six records as a vocalist, was a fashion designer in the 1940's, then returned to music where she had 4 successful years of engagements in Europe in the 1950's and held a post graduate degree in music from the NY College of Music.

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