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|Armand John "A. J." Piron was a Jazz violinist and one of New Orleans’ most
prominent bandleaders, composers and music publishers. He was born in New
Orleans in 1888 and grew up on Columbus Street. He spent the first few years of
his married life in a house on the same street, just a few blocks away. He gave
violin lessons in the front room of this home during the early days of his career.
Though Mr. Piron's accomplishments were many and varied, he may be best
remembered for a song he composed and played which became a nation-wide
hit, "I Wish That I Could Shimmy Like my Sister Kate."
|Armand John "A. J." Piron
|Piron's New Orleans Orchestra; Mr. Piron is standing.
|At various times, Piron's New Orleans Orchestra included Lorenzo Tio,
Jr. on clarinet, Louis Warnecke on saxophone, Steve Lewis on piano,
Louis Cottrell on drums, Peter Bocage on trumpet and Charles
Bocage on banjo; also, briefly, Johnny St. Cyr on banjo.
|There's a plaque from the Preservation Resource Center commemorating
Mr. Piron's achievements on his former home on Columbus Street. The
home's owner once said that she thought she sometimes sensed Mr.
Piron's presence in the front room, where he had given lessons to
students all those years ago.
|A. J. Piron began playing professionally in 1904 and, by 1912, he was leading
the already established Olympia Orchestra.
In 1915, Piron founded the first African-American music publishing house in
New Orleans, Piron & Williams Music Company, co-owned with pianist-composer
Piron established his own band in 1918, known as Piron's New Orleans Orchestra.
A society band, it featured a smoother, more Creole style of Jazz. The orchestra
quickly became one of the most popular and best paid bands in the city and often
played at Tranchina’s Restaurant at Spanish Fort, the Southern Yacht Club, New
Orleans Country Club and the Pythian Roof Garden, to name just a few.
The Piron Orchestra first traveled to New York in 1923 for an engagement at the
Cotton Club and later went back to play at Roseland Ballroom. While in New York,
he made recordings for three different companies, Okeh, Victor and Columbia.
A. J. Piron returned to New Orleans and remained popular, working steadily for
the rest of his life. He died in his hometown in 1943. -- Nancy
|1927 ad for Piron's Orchestra at the Pythian Temple's Roof Garden:
"Piron's famous Victory recording orchestra, composed of 11 pieces, will
furnish the latest dance hits at all dances ~ Dance on the coolest and most
up-to-date dancing floor south, cooled by natures breezes 200 feet in the air."