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Piron's New Orleans Orchestra

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  • Born: New Orleans, LA
  • Died: New Orleans, LA
  • Years Active: 1920s, 1930s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Armand Piron led one of the finest regularly working dance bands in New Orleans during the 1920's. He received extensive musical training as a violinist from his father (an orchestra leader) and began playing professionally in 1904 when he was 16, landing a position with the Joseph Bloom Philharmonic Orchestra. Within four years, Piron was a bandleader and in 1912 he took over the leadership of the highly-rated Olympia Orchestra when its former leader Freddie Keppard left town; the band soon included King Oliver and Sidney Bechet. Piron formed a publishing company with Clarence Williams in 1915 and continued leading bands while also working with Oscar "Papa" Celestin. Although Piron was later renowned as the composer of "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate," Louis Armstrong always claimed that he sold the hit song to Piron for a very low price, and Armstrong refused to play "Sister Kate" throughout his career. Piron's New Orleans Orchestra worked regularly in his hometown starting in 1918. In 1923 they traveled to New York for an engagement and the start of a series of recordings that continued through Feb. 1924. Among the octet's key sidemen were trumpeter Peter Bocage, trombonist John Lindsay and clarinetist Lorenzo Tio Jr. Their recordings (of which "Bouncing Around," "Kiss Me Sweet," "Mama's Gone, Goodbye" and "New Orleans Wiggle" are among the best) mix together polite and lyrical dance music with hints of hot jazz. Oddly enough, Piron never recorded his theme song "The Purple Rose Of Cairo." After returning to New Orleans, Piron did record two songs backing singer Lela Borden and in 1925 his group cut two final selections. Piron's New Orleans Orchestra lasted until 1928, Armand Piron fronted George Augustin's Moonlight Serenaders into the mid-1930's and he died in poverty (and largely forgotten) in 1943 at age 54.

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