This Wednesday’s artist is Louis Armstrong. He was a jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and singer known for songs like "What a Wonderful World,” “Hello, Dolly,” ”Star Dust” and "La Vie En Rose.”
Every Wednesday of the week, Tunitemusic introduces a new artist and their works. These artists have been chosen regardless of their musical genre.
Louis Armstrong, nicknamed "Satchmo," "Pops" and, later, "Ambassador Satch," was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was an all-star virtuoso and came to prominence in the 1920s, influencing countless musicians with both his incredible trumpet style and unique vocals.
Armstrong’s career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in the history of jazz. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Just his two wonderful tracks, “What a wonderful world” and “La Vie En Rose” are enough to make him a legend.
With his instantly recognizable rich, gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer and skillful improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song. He was also skilled at scat singing, which is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables, or without words at all.
He is renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice as well as his trumpet playing. By the end of Armstrong's career in the 1960s, his influence had spread to all popular genres in music.
While in New York, Armstrong cut dozens of records as a sideman, creating inspirational jazz with other greats such as Sidney Bechet, and backing numerous blues singers including the famous Bessie Smith.
In Chicago, OKeh Records decided to let Armstrong make his first records with a band under his own name: Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five. From 1925 to 1928, Armstrong made more than 60 records with the Hot Five and, later, the Hot Seven.
Today, these are generally regarded as the most important and influential recordings in jazz history; on these records, Armstrong's virtuoso brilliance helped transform jazz from an ensemble music to a soloist's art. His stop-time solos on numbers like "Cornet Chop Suey" and "Potato Head Blues" changed jazz history, featuring daring rhythmic choices, swinging phrasing, and incredibly high notes.
Armstrong appeared in films such as High Society (1956) alongside Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra, and Hello, Dolly! (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.
Since his death, Armstrong's stature has only continued to grow. In the 1980s and '90s, younger African-American jazz musicians like Wynton Marsalis, Jon Faddis, and Nicholas Payton began speaking about Armstrong's importance, both as a musician and a human being.
A series of new biographies on Armstrong made his role as a civil rights pioneer abundantly clear and, subsequently, argued for an embrace of his entire career's output, not just the revolutionary recordings from the 1920s.
Armstrong's home in Corona, Queens was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977; today, the house is home to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, which annually receives thousands of visitors from all over the world.