One afternoon in the spring of 1928, 26-year old Louis Armstrong was strolling through his South Side Chicago neighborhood with a worshipful young admirer, tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, when they came upon a group of street musicians. They were playing "Struttin' With Some Barbecue," a tune written by Armstrong's wife, Lil, and recently recorded by Armstrong's Hot Five, and the trumpet player was laboring his way through Armstrong's own solo, note for note.
When the man finished, Freeman remembered, Armstrong clapped politely, then stepped closer, not wanting to embarrass him, and murmured, "Man, you're playing that too slow."
"How would you know?" asked the trumpet player, indignant.
"I'm Louis Armstrong. That's my chorus you're playing."
When he and Freeman passed by the next day, the musicians had put out a hand-lettered sign next to their tin cup: "PUPILS OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG".
- Geoffrey C. Ward