Tunes on Tuesday: Struttin’ With Some Barbecue

Why this tune?

Today I’m remembering Louis Armstrong on his birthday. My late father was a big jazz fan, and some of the earliest music I can remember are the sounds of Louis Armstrong coming from my dad’s mono hifi system. I’m sure he played “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue,” written by his wife Lil Hardin and recorded many, many times by Armstrong, starting with his Hot Five in 1928.  

Many of the recordings of this tune stay close to the traditional jazz style of the original, even Lee Konitz’s versions from the 1960s and 70s. There are some exceptions, like Gil Evans’ arrangement for his orchestra, and a big band version arranged by Sammy Nestico. Both of those reflected their unique arranging styles.

Dig this detail!

Whatever the style, it’s an unforgettable tune, maybe because of that opening melody that matches the title so well. I quote it all the time in my solos (for the jazz nerds, it’s a major seventh arpeggio that has plenty of uses). Have a listen and see if you can say “Struttin With Some Barbecue” again without singing it.

Hear the story

Check it out!

Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, 1928

Louis Armstrong All-Stars, 1957

Gil Evans and his orchestra

Lee Konitz Duet with valve trombonist Marshall Brown 

Published by Oren Levine

Jazz pianist and composer in Washington, DC. Also a digital product and technology professional working at a small DC nonprofit

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