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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

Armstrong, Louis: Jubilee Shows No. 26 & No 32

These two live "Jubilee" radio shows were made in 1943 specifically to entertain the U.S. military during World War II, and have never before been released on CD. The first show features Louis Armstrong and his big band, plus the Red Callender Trio; the second show features the Count Basie Big Band and the Art Tatum Trio. The repertoire on this 19-track CD consists mainly of the greatest popular swing and trad-jazz hits of these two top big bands. The Count Basie Band features four great stars: Harry "Sweets" Edison and Snooky Young on trumpet, Don Byas on tenor sax, and Jimmy Rushing on vocals. One of the high points of the entire CD is Art Tatum's rendition of "Exactly Like You". These Jubilee shows give today's listener a valuable sampling of the swing-oriented black entertainment world of the mid-1940s. After decades of having these performances only available in piecemeal fashion, usually on bootleg LP's with inferior sound, it is a joy to have the opportunity to hear this timeless music as if it were being broadcast on the radio today.