Monday, January 14, 2019

Struttin' with Some Barbecue - a review

Struttin' with Some Barbecue: Lil Hardin Armstrong becomes the First Lady of Jazz 
by Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrated by Rachel Himes 
Charlesbridge, 2018

Almost everyone has heard of jazz trumpet player Louis Armstrong, but what of his wife, Lil Hardin? In this illustrated,  novel-in-verse, Patricia Hruby Powell introduces us to the the talented piano player and composer, Lil Hardin. She was Louis Armstrong's wife, his early manager, and the composer of several famous jazz hits of the day, including "Struttin' with Some Barbecue." With or without her famous husband, Lil Hardin was destined to be a star.

Short chapters in chronological order start with Liz's upbringing with her strict mother—a staunch foe of "race music," as jazz was called at the time.  However, Liz's talent, drive, and ability to make money, finally won over her disapproving mother.  Lil began dating the shy Louis Armstrong in 1922. Together they played music, married, and rose to the top,

Lil and Louis
were struttin' high on the hog
right there in Chicago,
up from the South,
raw and raucous
rompin', rollickin'

Dang, they were musical royalty—
a new kind of sound—
After reading Struttin' with Some Barbecue, you won't be able to look up a recording of Lil's music fast enough.  I've saved you the trouble.  Listen to "Struttin' with Some Barbecue" below.

In addition to a glossary, bibliography, index, etc., back matter includes additional information on Lil, jazz, and racial conditions of the era.

My copy of Struttin' with Some Barbecue was provided by the publisher.

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