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Armstrong, Louis

Biography

Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an "inventive" cornet and trumpet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance. With his instantly recognizable deep and distinctive gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also greatly skilled at scat singing (vocalizing using sounds and syllables instead of actual lyrics). Renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice almost as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong's influence extends well beyond jazz music, and by the end of his career in the 1960s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general. Armstrong was one of the first truly popular African-American entertainers to "cross over", whose skin-color was secondary to his music in an America that was severely racially divided. He rarely publicly politicized his race, often to the dismay of fellow African-Americans, but took a well-publicized stand for desegregation during the Little Rock Crisis. His artistry and personality allowed him socially acceptable access to the upper echelons of American society that were highly restricted for a black man.

Featured Tracks




Recordings

Crosby, Bing / Armstrong, Louis: Havin' Fun

This 2CD set, comprising the albums Havin’ Fun and Havin’ More Fun, captures Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong highlights from 1949 – 1951 editions of The Bing Crosby Show. The show ran – under changing sponsorships - through most of the 1950s and had a guest roster that read like a who’s who of mainstream entertainers. Bing’s most frequent guest was Louis Armstrong. The mutual respect and love that Satch and Bing had for each other is obvious on these recordings, the writing is inspired and Armstrong is extremely funny, often causing Crosby to crack up. Other featured guests on these sessions include trombonist Jack Teagarden, violinist Joe Venuti and singers Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Dinah Shore. Some of the most memorable highlights include Bing and Satch’s collaborations on A Kiss to Build A Dream On, Gone Fishin’ and Lazy Bones. Louis had profoundly influenced Crosby since 1926 when he first heard him perform in person during a Chicago visit. The young singer was struck by the ease with which Armstrong seamlessly combined comedy with extraordinary musicianship – that ab...