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L E’s Stories – To Satchmo: “What A Wonderful World It Is With You In It”

From as long as Bone Daddy can remember…..his entire family growing up was into Satchmo known as Louie Armstrong (not Satchmo or Louis, but Louie)….as they turned up the volume any time a song came on the radio….while considering any television program that Satchmo was gonna be on….then you could be that the dinner trays would be in front of everyone’s seat…and as BD tells the story…. every male in Bone Daddy’s immediate family….to include Lil Wally, Runt and Pops….all could do their own Satchmo imitation of each of their favorite Satchmo songs….so, this story is posted with a great deal of “joyful memories of Satchmo imitations”…. plus, I will showcase many Satchmo videos along with my Top 20 favorite Satchmo song’s videos….which is well worth the price of admission here at ImaSportsphile.                

Music – 1968 – Louie Armstrong – “What A Wonderful World”                                                                                  

Louie Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed “Satchmo”, “Satch” and “Pops”, was an American trumpeter, composer, vocalist and actor….who was among the most influential figures in jazz. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920’s to the late 1960’s…..and through different eras in the history of jazz.   Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans…..while coming into prominence in the 1920’s as an inventive trumpet and cornet player….as Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz….when he shifted the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance.  Around 1922, he followed his mentor, Joe “King” Oliver, to Chicago to play in the Creole Jazz Band…..where he spent time with other popular jazz musicians…..as he reconnected with his friend Bix Beiderbecke….along with pending time with Hoagy Carmichael and Lil Hardin. He earned a reputation at….and relocated to New York in order to join Fletcher Henderson’s band.  With his instantly recognizable rich, gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer and skillful improviser….while bending the lyrics and melody of a song…..who was also skilled at scat singing. Armstrong is renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice….as well as his trumpet playing. By the end of Armstrong’s career in the late 1960’s, his influence had spread to popular music in general. Armstrong was one of the first popular African-American entertainers to “cross over” to wide popularity with white and international) audiences…..as he rarely publicly politicized his race, to the dismay of fellow African Americans….but took a well-publicized stand for desegregation in the Little Rock crisis. He was able to access the upper echelons of American society at a time when this was difficult for black men.  Armstrong appeared in films such as High Society in 1956 alongside Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra….and Hello, Dolly! in 1969 starring Barbra Streisand. He received many accolades including three Grammy Award nominations and a win for his vocal performance of Hello, Dolly! in 1964.                                                                                               

Music – 1919 To 1971 – Special Jazz Documentary – “The Wonderful World Of Louis Armstrong”                              

Armstrong was born in New Orleans to Mary Albert and William Armstrong. Albert was from Boutte, Louisiana…..and gave birth at home when she was about sixteen…..and shortly thereafter, William Armstrong abandoned the family.  Louis Armstrong was raised by his grandmother until the age of five when he was returned to his mother.  He spent his youth in poverty in a rough neighborhood known as The Battlefield.  At six he attended the Fisk School for Boys,  a school that accepted black children in the racially segregated system of New Orleans…..while doing odd jobs for the Karnoffskys, a family of Lithuanian Jews….then while selling coal in Storyville, he heard spasm bands, groups that played music out of household objects…..and he heard the early sounds of jazz from bands that played in brothels and dance halls such as Pete Lala’s, where King Oliver performed.  The Karnoffskys took him in and treated him like family. Knowing he lived without a father, they fed and nurtured him.  In his memoir Louis Armstrong + the Jewish Family in New Orleans, La., the Year of 1907, he described his discovery that this family was also subject to discrimination by “other white folks” who felt that they were better than Jews while saying  “I was only seven years old but I could easily see the ungodly treatment that the white folks were handing the poor Jewish family whom I worked for.”  He wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life and wrote about what he learned from them things like “how to live—real life and determination.”   His first musical performance may have been at the side of the Karnoffsky’s junk wagon. To distinguish them from other hawkers, he tried playing a tin horn to attract customers…..as Morris Karnoffsky gave Armstrong an advance toward the purchase of a cornet from a pawn shop.                                                                     

Music – 1928 – Louie Armstrong – “West End Blues”                                                                                                     

When Armstrong was eleven, he dropped out of school. His mother moved into a one-room house on Perdido Street with him, Lucy, and her common-law husband, Tom Lee, next door to her brother Ike and his two sons.  Armstrong joined a quartet of boys who sang in the streets for money. He also got into trouble. Cornetist Bunk Johnson said he taught the eleven-year-old to play by ear at Dago Tony’s honky tonk. (In his later years Armstrong credited King Oliver.) He said about his youth, “Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine—I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans … It has given me something to live for.”  Borrowing his stepfather’s gun without permission, he fired a blank into the air and was arrested on December 31, 1912. He spent the night at New Orleans Juvenile Court, then was sentenced the next day to detention at the Colored Waif’s Home.  Life at the home was spartan….as mattresses were absent…..and meals were often little more than bread and molasses….while Captain Joseph Jones ran the home like a military camp and used corporal punishment.  Armstrong developed his cornet skills by playing in the band. Peter Davis, who frequently appeared at the home at the request of Captain Jones, became Armstrong’s first teacher and chose him as bandleader. With this band, the thirteen year-old Armstrong attracted the attention of Kid Ory.                                                                                  

Music – 1962 – Louie Armstrong Live – “A Kiss To Build A Dream On”

 

In June of 1914, Armstrong was released into the custody of his father and his new stepmother, Gertrude. He lived in this household with two stepbrothers for several months….but after Gertrude gave birth to a daughter….while Armstrong’s father never welcomed him….so he returned to his mother, Mary Albert…. where he had to share a bed with his mother and sister. His mother still lived in The Battlefield….which left him open to old temptations….but he sought work as a musician…..and found a job at a dance hall owned by Henry Ponce….who had connections to organized crime…..when he met the six-foot tall drummer Black Benny….who became his guide and bodyguard.  Around the age of fifteen, he pimped for a prostitute named Nootsy….but that relationship failed after she stabbed Armstrong in the shoulder…. and his mother nearly choked her to death.                                                                                                                 

Music – 1952 – Louie Armstrong – “It Takes Two To Tango”

 

Armstrong was a member of Fate Marable’s New Orlean’s Band in 1918, here on board the riverboat S.S. Sidney….and traveled with the band while touring on the steamboat with the Streckfus Steamers line up and down the Mississippi River. Marable was proud of his musical knowledge, and he insisted that Armstrong and other musicians in his band learn sight reading. Armstrong described his time with Marable as “going to the University”….which gave him a wider experience working with written  arrangements. After returning to New Orleans in 1919, he found that King Oliver decided to go north and resigned his position in Kid Ory’s band….so, Armstrong replaced him……and he also became second trumpet for the Tuxedo Brass Band.                                                                                                                              

Music – 1931 – Louie Armstrong – “Stardust Melody”

 

Throughout his riverboat experience, Armstrong’s musicianship began to mature and expand….when at age 20, he could read music…..which enabled him to become one of the first jazz musicians to be featured on extended trumpet solos….while injecting his own personality and style….plus he started singing in his performances.  In 1922, he moved to Chicago at the invitation of King Oliver. With Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band he could make enough money to quit his day jobs. Although race relations were poor, Chicago was booming. The city had jobs for blacks making good wages at factories with some left over for entertainment….as Oliver’s band was among the most influential jazz bands in Chicago in the early 1920’s….as Armstrong lived luxuriously in his own apartment with his first private bath….and while excited about being in Chicago….that is when he began his career-long pastime of writing letters to friends in New Orleans. At this point in his musical career….Louie Armstrong could blow two hundred high Cs in a row…..and as his reputation grew, he was challenged to cutting contests by other musicians.            

Music – 1962 – Louie Armstrong Live In Berlin – “The Dippermouth Blues” + “Canal Street Blues”

 

His first studio recordings were with Oliver for Gennett Records in early April of 1923. They endured several hours on the train to remote Richmond, Indiana, and the band was paid little. The quality of the performances was affected by lack of rehearsal, crude recording equipment, bad acoustics, and a cramped studio. In addition, Richmond was associated with the Ku Klux Klan…..and that is when Lil Hardin Armstrong urged him to seek more prominent billing and develop his style apart from the influence of Oliver….and she encouraged him to play classical music in church concerts to broaden his skills…..plus she prodded him into wearing more stylish attire to offset his girth. Her influence eventually undermined Armstrong’s relationship with his mentor, especially concerning his salary and additional money that Oliver held back from Armstrong and other band members.  Armstrong’s mother, May Ann Albert, came to visit him in Chicago during the summer of 1923 after being told that Armstrong was “out of work, out of money, hungry, and sick”; Hardin located and decorated an apartment for her to live in while she stayed.                                                                                                                                                                     

Music – 1927 – Louie Armstrong & The Hot Five – “Once In A While”

 

Armstrong and Oliver parted amicably in 1924….and shortly afterward, he received an invitation to go to New York City to play with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra….which was the top African-American band of the time…..and that is when he switched to the trumpet to blend in better with the other musicians in his section. His influence on Henderson’s tenor sax soloist, Coleman Hawkins, can be judged by listening to the records made by the band during this period…..for this was when Armstrong open the doors to becoming Satcchmo…..as he adapted to the tightly controlled style of Henderson…..while playing trumpet and experimenting with the trombone…..as the other members of the band were affected by Armstrong’s emotional style….when his act included singing and telling tales of New Orleans characters, especially preachers.  The Henderson Orchestra played in prominent venues for patrons only…. which included the Roseland Ballroom….with arrangements by Don Redman…..as the likes of  Duke Ellington’s orchestra went to Roseland to catch Armstrong’s performances.  During this time, Armstrong also recorded with Clarence Williams….who was a friend from New Orleans …..as the Williams Blue Five, along with Sidney Bechet, and blues singers Alberta Hunter, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith.                                                         

Music – 1935 – Louie Armstrong – “I’m In The Mood For Love”

 

In 1925, Armstrong returned to Chicago largely at the insistence of Lil, who wanted to expand his career and his income…..while publicity billing him, much to his chagrin, as “the World’s Greatest Trumpet Player”…..and for a time he was a member of the Lil Hardin Armstrong Band and working for his wife.  Shortly thereafter, he formed Louis Armstrong and his “Hot Five”….and recorded the hits “Potato Head Blues” and “Muggles”.  The word “muggles” was a slang term for marijuana….which is something that Satchmo used often during his life.  The Hot Five included Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Johnny St. Cyr on banjo, Lil Armstrong on piano….and usually not using a drummer…..when over a twelve-month period starting in November 1925, this quintet produced twenty-four records.   Armstrong’s band leading style was easygoing, as St. Cyr noted, “One felt so relaxed working with him, and he was very broad-minded … always did his best to feature each individual.”  Among the most notable of the Hot Five and Seven records were “Cornet Chop Suey”, “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue”, “Hotter Than that” and “Potato Head Blues,”….which all featured highly creative solos by Armstrong. According to Thomas Brothers, recordings, such as “Struttin’ with Some Barbeque,”….were so superb, while being “planned with density and variety, bluesyness, and showiness,” which were probably showcased at the Sunset Café.  His recordings soon thereafter with pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines….with the most famous being their 1928 “Weather Bird” duet…..along with Armstrong’s trumpet introduction to and solo in “West End Blues” remain some of the most famous and influential improvisations in jazz history. Armstrong was now free to develop his personal style as he wished….which included a heavy dose of effervescent jive, such as “Whip That Thing, Miss Lil” and “Mr. Johnny Dodds, Aw, Do That Clarinet, Boy!”                                                                                                                                                                               

Music – 1931 – Louie Armstrong – “Muggles”

 

Armstrong also played with Erskine Tate’s Little Symphony….which played mostly at the Vendome Theater…..when they furnished music for silent movies and live shows….which included jazz versions of classical music such as “Madame Butterfly”….and this gave Armstrong experience with longer forms of music….plus, with hosting before a large audience. He began to scat sing (improvised vocal jazz using nonsensical words)….and was among the first to record it on the Hot Five recording “Heebie Jeebies” in 1926…..when the recording was so popular that the group became the most famous jazz band in the United States, even though they had not performed live to any great extent. Young musicians across the country, black or white, were turned on by Armstrong’s new type of jazz.

 

Music – 1925 – Louie Armstrong & The Hot Five – “Heebie Jeebies”                                                                           

After separating from Lil, Armstrong started to play at the Sunset Café for Al Capone’s associate Joe Glaser in the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra….with Earl Hines on piano….which was renamed Louis Armstrong and his Stompers….even though Hines was the music director and Glaser managed the orchestra.  Hines and Armstrong became fast friends and successful collaborators. It was at the Sunset Café that Armstrong accompanied singer Adelaide Hall during her tenure at the venue that she experimented, developed and expanded her use….along with the art of Scat singing with Armstrong’s guidance and encouragement.  In the first half of 1927, Louie assembled his Hot Seven group….which added drummer Al “Baby” Dodds and tuba player, Pete Briggs….while preserving most of his original Hot Five lineup…..as John Thomas replaced Kid Ory on trombone.  Later that year he organized a series of new Hot Five sessions which resulted in nine more records.  In the last half of 1928, he started recording with a new group including Zutty Singleton (drums), Earl Hines (piano), Jimmy Strong (clarinet), Fred Robinson (trombone), and Mancy Carr (banjo).                                                                                                                 

Music – 1929 – Louie Armstrong – “The St Louis Blues”

 

Armstrong returned to New York in 1929, where he played in the pit orchestra for the musical Hot Chocolates….which was an all-black revue written by Andy Razaf and pianist Fats Waller.  He also made a cameo appearance as a vocalist, regularly stealing the show with his rendition of “Ain’t Misbehavin'”…..as his version of the song became his biggest selling record to date.  Armstrong started to work at Connie’s Inn in Harlem, chief rival to the Cotton Club, a venue for elaborately staged floor shows…..and a front for gangster Dutch Schultz.  Armstrong also had considerable success with vocal recordings, including versions of famous songs composed by his old friend Hoagy Carmichael. His 1930’s recordings took full advantage of the new RCA ribbon microphone….which was  introduced in 1931….while imparted a characteristic warmth to vocals and immediately became an intrinsic part of the ‘crooning’ sound of artists like Bing Crosby…..when  Armstrong’s famous interpretation of Carmichael’s “Stardust” became one of the most successful versions of this song ever recorded….while showcasing Armstrong’s unique vocal sound and style….not to mention his innovative approach to singing songs that had already become standards.  Armstrong’s radical re-working of Sidney Arodin and Carmichael’s “Lazy River” (recorded in 1931) encapsulated many features of his groundbreaking approach to melody and phrasing…..as the song begins with a brief trumpet solo….then the main melody is introduced by sobbing horns…..which have been memorably punctuated by Armstrong’s growling interjections at the end of each bar….“Yeah! …”Uh-huh”…”Sure”…”Way down, way down.”….when in the 1st verse, he ignores the notated melody entirely……and sings as if playing a trumpet solo…..while pitching most of the first line on a single note….. and using strongly syncopated phrasing…..then in the 2nd stanza he breaks into an almost fully improvised melody, which then evolves into a classic passage of Armstrong “scat singing”              .

Music – 1960 – Louie Armstrong + Danny Kaye – “When The Saints Go Marching In” – With Some Serious Scat Singling

As with his trumpet playing, Louie Armstrong’s vocal innovations served as a foundation stone for the art of jazz vocal interpretation. The uniquely gravelly coloration of his voice became a musical archetype that was much imitated and endlessly impersonated. His scat singing style was enriched by his matchless experience as a trumpet soloist. His resonant, velvety lower-register tone and bubbling cadences on sides such as “Lazy River” exerted a huge influence on younger white singers such as Bing Crosby.                  

Music – 1958 – Newport Jazz Festival – Louie Armstrong Live – “Up The Lazy River”

 

The Great Depression of the early 1930’s was especially hard on the jazz scene…..as The Cotton Club closed in 1936…..after a long extended downward spiral….and that is when many musicians stopped playing altogether….as club dates evaporated…..then Bix Beiderbecke died and Fletcher Henderson’s band broke up…..while King Oliver made a few records but otherwise struggled…..as Sidney Bechet became a tailor and later moving to Paris…..and Kid Ory returned to New Orleans to raise chickens…..while Louie moved to Los Angeles in 1930 to seek new opportunities.  He played at the New Cotton Club in Los Angeles with Lionel Hampton on drums…..and the band drew the Hollywood crowd…. which could still afford a lavish night life….and that is when radio broadcasts from the club connected with younger audiences at home…..while Bing Crosby and many other celebrities were regulars at the club…..which opened the doors to Satchmo appearing in his first movie, Ex-Flame…..plus, it was during this time that Louie was also convicted of marijuana possession…..but received a suspended sentence.  He returned to Chicago in late 1931 and played in bands more in the Guy Lombardo vein and he recorded more standards. When the mob insisted that he get out of town,  Armstrong visited New Orleans, had a hero’s welcome, and saw old friends. He sponsored a local baseball team known as Armstrong’s Secret Nine and had a cigar named after him.  But soon he was on the road again. After a tour across the country shadowed by the mob, he fled to Europe.                                                                                                                      

Music – 1958 – Bing Crosby + Louie Armstrong – “Now We Has Jazz”                                                                            

After returning to the United States, he undertook several exhausting tours. His agent Johnny Collins’s erratic behavior and his own spending ways left Armstrong short of cash. Breach of contract violations plagued him. He hired Joe Glaser as his new manager, a tough mob-connected wheeler-dealer, who began to straighten out his legal mess, his mob troubles, and his debts…..and around that time is when Satchmo also began to experience problems with his fingers and lips…..which were aggravated by his unorthodox playing style…..and as a result, he branched out and developed his vocal style….while also making his first theatrical appearances. He appeared in movies again, including Crosby’s 1936 hit Pennies from Heaven…..while substituting for Rudy Vallee on the CBS radio network in 1937…. and became the first African American to host a sponsored, national broadcast.                                                             

Music – 1932 – Louie Armstrong – “All Of Me”

 

During his past in the 1920’s, Louis Armstrong had brought a huge impact during the Harlem Renaissance within the Jazz world. The music he created was an incredible part of his life during the Harlem Renaissance…..as his impact touched many, including a well-known man during that time named Langston Hughes….for the admiration he had for Armstrong and acknowledging him as one of the most recognized musicians during the era.  Within Hughes writings, he created many books which held the central idea of jazz….and recognition to Armstrong as one of the most important person to be part of the new found love of their culture. The sound of jazz….along with many other musicians such as Armstrong…..went a long way in helping shape Hughes as a writer…..when just as the musicians, Hughes wrote his words with jazz…..for Louie Armstrong changed the jazz during the Harlem Renaissance.  Being known as “the world’s greatest trumpet player” during this time he continued his legacy and decided to continue a focus on his own vocal career. The popularity he gained brought together many black and white audiences to watch him perform.                                                                                                                            

Music – 1939 – Louie Armstrong Live – “When The Saints Go Marching In”                                                              

After spending many years on the road, Armstrong settled permanently in Queens, New York in 1943 in contentment with his fourth wife, Lucille…..and although subject to the vicissitudes of Tin Pan Alley and the gangster-ridden music business…..as well as anti-black prejudice…..he continued to develop his playing.  He recorded Hoagy Carmichael’s “Rockin’ Chair” for Okeh Records.  During the next 30 years, Armstrong played more than 300 performances a year. Bookings for big bands tapered off during the 1940s due to changes in public tastes: ballrooms closed, and there was competition from television and from other types of music becoming more popular than big band music. It became impossible under such circumstances to finance a 16-piece touring band.                                                                                                                         

Music – 1947 – Jack Teagarden + Louie Armstrong – “Old Rockin’ Chair”

 

During the 1940’s, a widespread revival of interest in the traditional jazz of the 1920’s made it possible for Armstrong to consider a return to the small-group musical style of his youth…..when Louis was featured as a guest artist with Lionel Hampton’s band at the famed 2nd Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Chicago…..which was produced by Leon Hefflin Sr. on October 12, 1946.  Following a highly successful small-group jazz concert at New York Town Hall on May 17, 1947, featuring Armstrong with trombonist/singer Jack Teagarden, Armstrong’s manager, Joe Glaser dissolved the Armstrong big band on August 13, 1947, and established a six-piece traditional jazz group featuring Armstrong with (initially) Teagarden, Earl Hines and other top swing and Dixieland musicians, most of whom were previously leaders of big bands. The new group was announced at the opening of Billy Berg’s Supper Club.  This group was called Louis Armstrong and His All Stars and included at various times Earl “Fatha” Hines, Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall, Jack Teagarden, Trummy Young, Arvell Shaw, Billy Kyle, Marty Napoleon, Big Sid “Buddy” Catlett, Cozy Cole, Tyree Glenn, Barrett Deems, Mort Herbert, Joe Darensbourg, Eddie Shu, Joe Muranyi and percussionist Danny Barcelona. During this period, Armstrong made many recordings and appeared in over thirty films. He was the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time magazine, on February 21, 1949. Louis Armstrong and his All Stars were featured at the ninth Cavalcade of Jazz concert also at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles produced by Leon Hefflin Sr. held on June 7, 1953 along with Shorty Rogers, Roy Brown, Don Tosti and His Mexican Jazzmen, Earl Bostic, and Nat “King” Cole.  In February 1948, Suzy Delair sang the French song C’est si bon at the Hotel Negresco during the first Nice Jazz Festival. Louis Armstrong was present and loved the song….and in  1950, he recorded the American version of the song (English lyrics by Jerry Seelen) in New York City with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra. When it was released, the disc was a worldwide success and the song was then performed by the greatest international singers.                                                                                      

Music – 1956 – Louie Armstrong Live On Stage – “Mack The Knife”

 

By the 1950’s, Armstrong was a widely beloved American icon and cultural ambassador who commanded an international fan base…..however, a growing generation gap became apparent between him and the young jazz musicians who emerged in the postwar era such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Sonny Rollins…..as the postwar generation regarded their music as abstract art…..while considering Satchmo’s a vaudevillian style, half-musician and half-stage entertainer….which was considered outmoded and “Uncle Tomism “….as he seemed a link to minstrelsy that we were ashamed of.  He called bebop “Chinese music” While touring Australia, 1954, he was asked if he could play bebop. “Bebop?” he husked. “I just play music. Guys who invent terms like that are walking the streets with their instruments under their arms.”                                                                                                                                                                                

Music – 1958 – The Colgate Comedy Hour Live – With Louie Armstrong Playing “The Military Blues”                      

In the 1960s, he toured Ghana and Nigeria.  After finishing his contract with Decca Records, he became a freelance artist and recorded for other labels.  He continued an intense international touring schedule, but in 1959 he suffered a heart attack in Italy and had to rest.  In 1964, after over two years without setting foot in a studio, he recorded his biggest-selling record, “Hello, Dolly!”, a song by Jerry Herman, originally sung by Carol Channing. Armstrong’s version remained on the Hot 100 for 22 weeks, longer than any other record produced that year, and went to No. 1 making him, at 62 years, 9 months and 5 days, the oldest person ever to accomplish that feat. In the process, he dislodged the Beatles from the # 1 position they had occupied for 14 consecutive weeks with three different songs.                                                            

Music – 1965 – Louie Armstrong Live In Berlin – “Hello Dolly”

 

Armstrong made his last recorded trumpet performances on his 1968 album Disney Songs the Satchmo Way  Armstrong kept touring well into his 60s, even visiting part of the communist bloc in 1965. He also toured Africa, Europe, and Asia under the sponsorship of the US State Department with great success, earning the nickname “Ambassador Satch” and inspiring Dave Brubeck to compose his jazz musical The Real Ambassadors. By 1968, he was approaching 70 and his health began to give out. He suffered heart and kidney ailments that forced him to stop touring. He did not perform publicly at all in 1969 and spent most of the year recuperating at home. Meanwhile, his longtime manager Joe Glaser died. By the summer of 1970, his doctors pronounced him fit enough to resume live performances. He embarked on another world tour, but a heart attack forced him to take a break for two months. Armstrong made his last recorded trumpet performances on his 1968 album Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.

 

Music – 1968 – Disney Songs Done The Satchmo Way – Louie Armstrong – “Bibbidi Bobbidi Bu” From Cindarella

The influence of Armstrong on the development of jazz is virtually immeasurable…..for his irrepressible personality both as a performer and as a public figure was so strong that to some it sometimes overshadowed his contributions as a musician and singer.  As a virtuoso trumpet player, Armstrong had a unique tone and an extraordinary talent for melodic improvisation…..when through his playing, the trumpet emerged as a solo instrument in jazz and is used widely still today. Additionally, jazz itself was transformed from a collectively improvised folk music to a soloist’s serious art form largely through his influence. He was a masterful accompanist and ensemble player in addition to his extraordinary skills as a soloist. With his innovations, he raised the bar musically for all who came after him.                                           

Music – 1963 – Louie Armstrong – “Ain’t Misbehavin”

 

Though Armstrong is widely recognized as a pioneer of scat singing, Ethel Waters precedes his scatting on record in the 1930’s according to Gary Giddins and others.  Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra are just two singers who were greatly indebted to him. Holiday said that she always wanted Bessie Smith‘s ‘big’ sound and Armstrong’s feeling in her singing. Even special musicians like Duke Ellington have praised Armstrong through strong testimonials…..like in 1971 when Duke told DownBeat magazine….“If anybody was a master, it was Louis Armstrong. He was and will continue to be the embodiment of jazz.”….and in 1950, Bing Crosby, the most successful vocalist of the first half of the 20th century, said, “He is the beginning and the end of music in America.”                                                                                                                

Music – 1959 – Special – Louie Armstrong + Duke Ellington – “Send Back My Love” “I Got It Bad, And That Ain’t Good”

 

In the summer of 2001, in commemoration of the centennial of Armstrong’s birth, New Orleans’s main airport was renamed Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport….then in 2002, the Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings from 1925 – 1928 were preserved in the United States National Recording Registry…..which was a registry of recordings selected yearly by the National Recording Preservation Board for preservation in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.  The US Open tennis tournament’s former main stadium was named Louis Armstrong Stadium in honor of Armstrong who had lived a few blocks from the site…..plus, Congo Square was a common gathering place for African-Americans in New Orleans for dancing and performing music…..and the park where Congo Square is located was later renamed Louis Armstrong Park…..and includes a 12-foot statue of Armstrong, trumpet in hand.

Music – 1963 – Louie Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald – “Summertime”                                                                        

The house where Armstrong lived for almost 28 years was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and is now a museum. The Louis Armstrong House Museum, at 34-56 107th Street between 34th and 37th avenues in Corona, Queens, presents concerts and educational programs, operates as a historic house museum and makes materials in its archives of writings, books, recordings and memorabilia available to the public for research. The museum is operated by the Queens College, City University of New York, following the dictates of Lucille Armstrong’s will. The museum opened to the public on October 15, 2003.             

Music – 1964 – Louie Armstrong Live – “The Basin Street Blues”                                                                                

Armstrong appeared at many New York area venues, including several extended engagements at Freedomland U.S.A. in The Bronx…..as his performances there are featured in the book, Freedomland U.S.A.: The Definitive History.  According to literary critic Harold Bloom, “The two great American contributions to the world’s art, in the end, are Walt Whitman and, after him, Armstrong and jazz … If I had to choose between the two, ultimately, I wouldn’t. I would say that the genius of this nation at its best is indeed Walt Whitman and Louis Armstrong.”   

 

Music – 1982 – Danny Kaye & Louie Armstrong – “That’s How Jazz Was Born”

In concluding this story, suffice to say….Louie “Satchmo” Armstrong is a legendary music giant of the highest order in America….the kind of which only comes along in “a month of blue moons”…..which makes this lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile down right happy….so, I’ll leave you with a tidbit of a story which stems from having heard the family stories of loving Louie Armstong and his music….and about how Pops and Los Tres Hermanos (3 brothers) each sang their favorite Satchmo tune in their best Louie Armstrong impersonation the could muster up…..cuz that’s when I called up Bone Daddy and I played him Satchmo’s “What A Wonderful World”…..as he was very quiet throughout….then he said, “that was Dad’s song….I could hear him singing in Satchmo….thanks for the memory”….as I guess that pretty well sum’s up ImaSportsphile….it’s all about memories.                                                                                                                      

Music – 1965 – Live From Berlin – Louie Armstrong In Concert

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