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The Music of Lil Hardin Armstrong

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Album Review

Lillette Jenkins is a little-known but reasonably talented pianist/vocalist who makes her debut as a leader on this CD. However, this set is much less about Jenkins as it is about Lil Hardin Armstrong and her music. Chris Albertson's liner notes shed a great deal of light on Hardin's later life. Fourteen of Armstrong's songs are explored by four different groups on the well-conceived project, including such numbers as "Hotter Than That," "Struttin' with Some Barbeque," "Two Deuces," "Just for a Thrill," "Born to Swing," and "Brown Gal." Five songs are performed by an octet that includes trumpeter Glenn Zottola, trombonist Dan Barrett, Bob Wilber on clarinet and soprano, and Anti Sarpilla on clarinet and alto. Wilber has two features with the rhythm section. Jenkins is put in the spotlight with the trio, singing "Just for a Thrill" and romping on "Lil's Boogie." And Armstrong's swing-era songs are interpreted by a septet with trumpeter Doc Cheatham, tenorman Buddy Tate, Wilber, and guitarist Howard Alden. The program is rounded out by a 10-and-a-half-minute "Jazz Speak" that has Lillette Jenkins talking about both her life and that of Armstrong. A memorable set that is well worth checking out by mainstream listeners and jazz historians who may not be all that familiar with the contributions of Lil Hardin Armstrong.

The Music of Lil Hardin Armstrong, Lillette Jenkins
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