Thursday, August 4, 2011

In Honor of Satchmo

Louis Armstrong, born August 4, 1901

It's been a while since my last Jazz post. But today marks the 110 year birth date of one of the greatest Jazz musicians, Louis Armstrong. Perhaps more than any other performer, Armstrong popularized the Jazz movement as an American and global style. With an instantly recognizable voice and charismatic presence, he became the first African-American "cross over" performer and media star.

Although Jazz techniques and styles have changed radically over the decades since Armstrong's time, his music retains its potency and charm. Not only does it capture the vibe of the era, but it still speaks to the listener with authenticity and resonance. He served as an inspiration for generations of musicians, even when his style become "old fashioned" and "moldy" as the Bebop musicians would describe it.

Armstrong and his ever present handkerchief

His time in the spotlight lasted nearly half a century, during which the Jazz movement went from an obscure regional style from New Orleans to a high style art form. Armstrong's influence through the course of this development was profound.

Now days, we associate Armstrong with certain standard tunes, but his performance catalog goes much deeper than "Hello Dolly" or "When the Saints Go Marching In". I highly recommend looking beyond the "greatest hits" collections. There are many obscure treasures hidden behind the famous highlights.

Louis Armstrong and his trumpet

That's enough writing. Satchmo's music can speak for itself. ;-)

Great stuff!!!

Here's Louis Armstrong's Wikipedia page.

And here's the fine photo exhibit at the Fowler Museum featuring Armstrong and other Jazz greats, "Jam Session: America's Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World" which is ending on August 14th. Check it out.


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