Louis Armstrong Essay

Louis Armstrong Essay

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Louis Armstrong's Influential Career





Louis Armstrong’s Influential Career Louis Armstrong was the most successful and talented jazz musician in history. His influence and expansive career continues to make waves in the jazz world. That is what made him become what he is to many today – a legend. Born on August 4, 1901, in the poorest section of New Orleans, Armstrong grew up with his grandparents due to his parents’ separation. On January 1, 1913 he made a mistake which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. At a New Year’s celebration in downtown New Orleans, Louis Armstrong, also known as “Satchmo” and “Satch”, fired a pistol into the air and was placed in the Colored Waifs’ Home. It was there that he was introduced to Peter Davis – the brass band leader who taught him how to play the cornet (Brown 17). Soon after he began playing, Armstrong was made leader of the band – something he was extremely proud of. In June of 1914, Armstrong was free to leave the Waifs’ Home. He was hired by various cabarets throughout the city, as well as for picnics, dances, and funerals. It was at one of these places that he was spotted by the famous Joe ‘King’ Oliver. King Oliver found Armstrong stand-in slots at orchestras and other venues. In 1918, he was offered the vacant seat left by Oliver in the band the Brown Skinned Babies. Kid Ory, leader of the band, once said that after Louis joined them he, “…improved so fast it was amazing. He had a wonderful ear and a wonderful memory. All you had to do was hum or whistle a new tune to him and he’d know it right away” (Boujut 21). At the end of 1918 Armstrong married Daisy Parker, a prostitute he had met at a dance hall that he played on Saturday nights. The marriage ended only four years later due to her beating him regularly (Bergreen 87). Louis Armstrong was hired in May of 1919 to play on a riverboat that traveled the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Louis. Armstrong soon became very popular in St. Louis and was in high demand (Collier 124). Two and a half years later, he was thrown off the riverboat and fired due to a fight. After returning to New Orleans, he received a telegram from King Oliver in Chicago. It was an invitation to join The Creole Jazz Band – an offer Armstrong couldn’t refuse. The Jazz Band cut it’s first record in the spring of 1923 and toured throughout Illinois, Ohio,...


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...s he starred in which shared the same title. For the next seven years of his life he was in and out of the hospital due to heart and kidney problems. On July 6th, 1971, Louis Armstrong died of a lung infection and heart complications. His last wish, that his trumpet be buried with him, was granted. Louis Armstrong influenced almost all aspects of jazz technique and style. He was the first to improvise and elaborate on a given melody. This technique has since been attempted and copied time and time again. Armstrong introduced a freedom to music that continues to impact popular music (Sadie 601). Without this American genius music would not be what it is today.



Bibliography

Works Cited Bergreen, Lawrence. Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life. New York: Broadway, 1997. Boujut, Michel. Louis Armstrong. New York: Rizzoli, 1998. Brown, Sandford. Louis Armstrong. New York: Watts, 1993. Collier, James Lincoln. Louis Armstrong: An American Genius. New York: Oxford, 1983. Crouch, Stanley. “Louis Armstrong.” Time 8 Aug. 1998: 170. Sadie, Stanley. ed. “Louis Armstrong.” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 6th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan, 1995.



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